Walter Scott's Show Stopping 2019s
2019 is turning out to be a magical vintage in Oregon.
It was a long, cool and dry growing season with almost no drama except for a bit of late rain that was followed by a few more weeks of cool and dry weather.
There were none of the heat spikes or waves that marked 2017 and 2018. But even in those vintages, the best producers pulled out wines that were concentrated and elegantly structured with a remarkable level of freshness and vibrancy.
This has a lot to do with the massive generational knowledge that Oregon’s wine growing community has acquired over the last 40 + years.
Their ability to work around mother nature and not against her along with a recent explosion of talent and skill on the winemaking side has cemented Oregon and specifically it’s Willamette Valley as one of the world's premiere wine growing regions.
When it comes to the profundity of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Oregon is nearly nipping at Burgundy’s feet.
Much of this has to do with the French themselves. Before most folk were paying close attention to what was going on in the Douglas Fir covered slope of the Willamette Valley, some of Burgundy's greatest talents had planted roots. They have generously shared knowledge that took decades if not centuries to acquire. Dominique Lafon, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair and of course, the Drouhins are just a few of the marquee names.
The first contact moment for many of these Francophones was tasting older vintages of David Letts’ Eyrie Vineyard Pinots. These were proof positive that Oregon was capable of producing wine to rival the world's best.
Willamette Valley is cool, and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grows well there, but there is no limestone—the soil type is a mix of sedimentary and igneous volcanic rock.
The best parcels are from ribbons of volcanic soil that thread through the sedimentary soil. These high drainage soils allow the roots of the vine to reach “mother rock”. These unique soils are Oregon’s secret sauce.
In my humble opinion, there is no better distillation of all of this than the wines of Walter Scott.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was mostly unaware of these wines until a few years ago.
The label was started in 2008 by partners Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon after years of successful careers in the Oregon Wine Industry. Walter Scott’s first wine, La Combe Verte Pinot Noir, was produced in 2009 at Patricia Green Cellars where Ken traded harvest labor for winemaking space.
The two following vintages were crafted at Evening Lands where Ken worked alongside the legendary Chardonnay master, Dominique Lafon.
So, in 2011 Walter Scott began making Chardonnay, which contributed significantly to both their growing production and group of loyal followers. In 2012 they moved into their current space, which is situated on Justice Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills.
In the vineyard, the focus is on not just the cultivation of the grapes but to also build an exceptional relationship to the land and those who tend to it.
They prefer older vines with clonal diversity and cool microclimates. Working with like minded folks has allowed Ken and Erica to source grapes that are dry farmed without the use of herbicides, pesticides or fungicides.
Winemaking is done with an open mind and never follows a recipe. Native or ambient yeast fermentations are embraced; minimal punching down and extractive techniques are used; and subtle adjustments are made each year to allow a transparent view of each vintage to shine. Judicious use of French Oak is used to enhance the structure and texture. Each bottle is a balanced signature of place with a structural integrity that allows them to mature gracefully.
2019 was a phenomenal growing season but yields were down around 20% so there is less wine to go around this year.
Unfortunately there will be no Pinot Noir in 2020 due to the fires.
I am not exaggerating when I say that these wines stopped me in my tracks.
They are amongst, not just the best wines I’ve had from Oregon, but some of the best I’ve had from anywhere. These are sure to please those who love Burgundy or just about anyone who loves phenomenal wines.
Shop our full collection of Walter Scott's wines.
Walter Scott, Willamette Valley Chardonnay, La Combe Verte, 2019
“The La Combe Verte is fermented with 100% ambient yeast and full malolactic conversion in large barrels with very little bâtonnage. The wine is lightly fined and filtered prior to bottling to brighten aromatics and give us a polished finish. The result is an illuminating style of chardonnay, showcasing density and precision. The palate spotlights evolving layers of textures which follow the aromatic notes of lemon blossoms, with the finish offering a subtle mineral and saline character.” -Ken Pahlow
Walter Scott, Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay, Seven Springs, 2019
One of the very few wineries given access to this vineyard outside of its owners, Evening Land, Ken feels very honored to work with this fruit and has an intimate knowledge of these vines. Intense aromatics of Meyer lemon, pineapple, peach blossom & orange peel. A concentration of layers of white nectarine, lemon curd & a sprinkle of salt. Densely textured with a long, taught finish
Walter Scott, Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay, Sojeau, 2019
Lime blossom, lemon zest & flint layered with fennel frond. Sophisticated power & weight with mandarin, white peach & chamomile, woven together with driving acidity & intense wet gravel minerality.
Walter Scott, Willamette Valley Chardonnay, X Novo Vineyard, 2019
“Jasmine, gardenia, lemon blossom, white peach & flint. Balance & concentration showing notes of lemon drop, candied tangerine peel, fennel & wet stone welcoming a salty, mouth-watering finish.” -Ken Pahlow
Walter Scott, Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir, Sequiter, 2019
Cherry cola, ripe strawberry, violet pastille, coffee, moist cedar, chanterelle mushroom & forest floor. Dense texture & juicy acidity, layered with sour pie cherry & cinnamon for a bright finish.
Walter Scott, Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir, Temperance Hill Vineyard, 2019
“Dried sage, porcini mushroom, rosemary blossom, tea rose & pine needle balanced with raspberry glaze, huckleberry pie, molasses, anise & clove. Pure finesse with elegant tannins & a complex finish.” -Ken Pahlow
Walter Scott, Mt. Pisgah Pinot Noir, Freedom Hill, 2019
“Layered with red plum, cherry liquor & violet. A medium palate weight with soft tannins leads to savory notes of earth & allspice. Our goal is a wine that possesses the finesse to balance its power..” -Ken Pahlow
Walter Scott, Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir, Sojeau, 2019
“Power & sophistication. Wild raspberry, violet & spices showing sarsaparilla, cocoa & tobacco. Sweet red cherry & bolete mushroom with delicate tannins lead to a vibrant & intensely mineral finish.” -Ken Pahlow