A NASA Physicist’s Brilliant Take on Pinot Noir
“Highly Recommended” is the designation Harvey Steiman gives this excellent Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains AVA in his 94-point Wine Spectator review, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s certainly the most exciting new Oregon Pinot I’ve tasted so far this year. And as soon as you taste, you’ll know this is something special — revealing a svelte and fleshy red, that is lavish and velvety. Spectator was equally enamoured by this “sleek and harmonious” wine with its “long, inviting finish.” Only 710 cases were made, sold almost exclusively to the winery mailing list, but kindly offered today to Wine Access clients for $39.99 per bottle.
On July 20, 1969, as the world held its breath, and Neil Armstrong along with the crew of Apollo 11 took the first and greatest leap mankind has ever made, Don Hagge was watching from Mission Control. As an astrophysicist, Hagge’s attention to detail elevated him to a Chief post at NASA and an illustrious career studying our solar system. That he very likely is one of the few people in the world to be around real moon-dust might explain why as a grapegrower, he’s got a leg up. Soil science is in his DNA.
Unsurprisingly, Don’s 10-acre vineyard and small but perfectly formed winery are equally as beautiful as the wines he makes. After all, the former NASA physicist was deeply inspired by his childhood farm in North Dakota, and love for Burgundy, which he acquired during time spent living in France.
From elevations ranging 300 to 500 feet in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, Don has planted three distinct Pinot Noir clones — Dijon clones 777, 115 and Pommard clones. All are rooted in southwest facing deep volcanic Jory soils, and blended together, they produce a beautifully structured and complete Pinot Noir that reveals juicy acidity and a lavish mouthfeel.
Matt Deller MW
Master of Wine