Crowley's Captivating Chardonnay & Pinot Noir
"Despite building up an impressive track record for producing finely detailed, graceful Pinots over the last decade, Crowley’s Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are still under the Oregon radar."
—Josh Raynolds, Vinous
The first time I tasted the Crowley wines, I was mesmerized by their elegance and deliciousness. I assumed it could only be a fluke, a superb vintage, or maybe a fruit day on the biodynamic calendar. Few new wines make it to us feeling this complete — right off the bat.
I'm happy to say that three vintages later, I've yet to be disappointed, and it really should not have come as a surprise. The East Coast and I might be new to Tyson's wines, but Oregon is not. He has been an integral part of the Willamette winemaking world for over two decades, garnering experience is some of the regions largest (Erath) and most cultish (Cameron) wineries.
When he started his own label in 2005, he intended to make exactly the kinds of wines he wanted to, which happen to be the kinds of wines I want to drink.
They are not flashy, bombastic, score-chasers. They are as reflective of their winemaker's thoughtful and balanced sensibilities as they are of their sense of place. A perfect example of how man is just as integral to terroir as the soil.
Of course it helps that Tyson's relationships in the valley run deep, allowing him to purchase or lease choice plots in top vineyards, and control over their farming. This means these wines are really made in the vineyard, with apt picking dates, and a very light hand in the cellar in order to capture the essence of the place through restraint not power.
On top of his experience, connections, and hard work he continues to price his wines incredibly reasonably. One wonders how he makes a living, producing just 3,000 cases a year, while selling the bottles at three quarters to half the price of his closest (in quality) competitors.
But I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I'll leave the whys for now and just stock up while I still can.
Crowley Wines, Chardonnay Four Winds Willamette Valley, 2018
Originally planted in 1993 at 800 feet to Wente clone, there is now a new clone, Draper in the mix, adding more complexity than ever. The nose is salty with wet stone, cement, herb and flinty notes. Rounded out by hits of the usual lemon/lime and pear, but almost austere fruit is backed with an angular yet rich mouthfeel. The oak is subtle and elegant. Dried apricot comes out on the finish as this wine stays clean, mouthwatering, rich, and long.
Crowley Wines, Pinot Noir Four Winds Willamette Valley, 2018
Four Winds was planted in 1999 at 800 feet elevation on shallow volcanic and basalt soils, leading to wines with pronounced leanness and mineral tones. This vintage has alluring graphite that gives way to rich blackberry and anise on the nose. The palate has wet stone and delivers a more succulent spiced fruit than normal, a result of a dry summer, but still with a feminine, delicate structure. The length is excellent and the old vine Pommard is supremely balanced and composed. A beautiful wine with fascinating tension.
Crowley Wines, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir La Colina, 2018
From the first vineyard Crowley acquired, planted in 1999 on the classic Dundee hills red volcanic Jory over basalt, clay and loam. 2018 is bold and beautiful, a dry summer luckily relented with a cool late September harvest giving us phenolic maturity, intensity and tension. Earthy tobacco and mushroom and ripe raspberry mix with ash and forest floor to create a captivating experience. Great rigid structure combines with fresh acidity and an taut mouthfeel with supple tannin provides lift and the finish is gorgeous and long.