Dundee Hills is the epicenter of Oregon Pinot Noir. Now we know why.
In Greek mythology, Nysa is the secret land full of lush fruit trees and vineyards where young Dionysus, the god of wine was raised. The forces emanating from Mount Nysa are said to be powerful. We found ourselves falling under the spell of three new wines from Nysa – actually from Nysa Vineyard, the Willamette Valley winery in the Dundee Hills.
The family-owned operation was begun in 1990 when owner and winemaker, Michael Mega purchased a parcel of orchards high with the goal of creating world-class Pinot Noir. The goal creating wines of complexity, concentration and balance while using minimalistic winemaking techniques and organic farming.
The grapes are grown at 600 to 720 feet elevation. Nysa case production is under 1,000, but that may soon change as wines will soon be available outside Oregon in shops across the US in such wine loving states as California, Texas, New York, North and South Carolina and Illinois.
We had the opportunity to taste the 2019 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the 2016 Pinot Noir, all from Dundee Hills. Dundee Hills is where Oregon Pinot Noir first gained its worldwide reputation. Early pioneers such as David Lett of Eyrie, Dick Erath and the Sokol Blossers planted many of Oregon’s first vineyards.
To taste the Chardonnay and 2016 Pinot, we planned a special dinner, an amazing meal with Duck Breast l'Orange entrée. Duck is a perfect pairing with Pinot Noir, whose fruity notes play perfectly with the rich dark meat. I wasn't sure about Chardonnay.
The Chardonnay uses grapes from the Nysa estate block of Wente clone vines. This wine went through malolactic fermentation and then spent 10 months in neutral French oak barrels. We discovered that this Willamette Valley Chard with beautiful tropical fruit notes and taste of honey worked wonderfully with the duck, asparagus, and mushroom risotto.
The 2016 Nysa is an amazing Pinot. It is a blend of different vineyard blocks throughout the estate.The grapes were fermented in small lot bins before aging in French oak (25% new). Light garnet in the glass with the perfect touch of acidity, delicate layers of red fruit, dry herbs, leather and nuanced earth tones show through. This was an ideal pairing and just an exceptional wine.
We got a look at the younger 2019 Nysa Pinot. On the palate there is beautiful smooth red cherries a touch of baking spices and a touch of minerality. Tasty now, we expect this vintage to rock after another two or three years of aging.
Nysa Pinot Noir ranges from $75 to $105, and Chardonnay starts at $65, all depending on the vintage.
Full disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.