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Sipping Hamilton Russell Oregon Pinot Noir

 

We have a soft spot for South Africa after a visit to the wine country and the bushlands in late 2006. So, it was a pleasure to visit with Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell, proprietors of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, a producer of estate-grown wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near the fishing village of Hermanus in Walker Bay. It’s one of the southernmost wine estates in Africa and benefits from a cooler maritime climate, ideal for producing their Burgundian style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. (listen The Connected Table Sips)

Hamilton Russell Vineyards is one of the southernmost wineries in South Africa

Now, after producing 40 vintages in South Africa, the Hamilton Russells have spread their wings and have invested in making wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Their first two releases, vintage 2018 deliver classic Pinot Noirs with opulent fruit and spice balanced with masterful restraint and purity. The wines are available through Vineyards Brands in the U.S.A.

The couple had looked into investing in Burgundy but decided the Willamette Valley offered a better opportunity to work with some of the region’s best AVAs, Eola-Amity Hills and Ribbon Ridge.

Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell in South Africa with Vineyard Manager Johan Montgomery and Winemaker Emul Ross

The Eola-Amity Hills AVA is recognized for its iron- rich volcanic soils formed by ancient lava flows combined with marine sediments and alluvial deposits. The maritime climate allows for a steady cooling sea breeze during the long, warm growing season Ribbon Ridge is a sub-appellation within the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Here, the soil is uniformly marine sediments with fine silt, sand, and mud.

“After sanctions (in South Africa) were lifted in 1992, we knew we wanted to expand long-term. We visited the U.S. often and saw an extraordinary opportunity in Oregon with Pinot Noir. While Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir from South Africa exhibits a bit more austerity, the Oregon wines capture the more purity of fruit. Interestingly, the alcohol levels, acidity and PH balance are almost the same,” said Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Hamilton Russell Oregon wines, both 2018, are like fraternal twins. They share a similar DNA – Willamette Valley Pinot Noir -but exhibit different character, due to terroir. Olive Hamilton Russell has a culinary background and is a passionate forager. She shared some pairing tips for each wine.

 Zena Crown Oregon Pinot Noir 2018, Eola-Amity Hills is aged 14 months in French oak.  SRP $85.99. Olive says, “This wine has darker fruit and spice. It exhibits more austerity and fine tannin. I suggested pairing with a rack of lamb, slow roasted meats, or a mushroom risotto.”
Bramble Hill Pinot Noir 2018, Ribbon Ridge is aged 14 months in French oak. Bramble Hill Vineyard is recognized for producing grapes for some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noirs. SRP $85.99. Olive says, “Here, the wine has more open red fruit and lively minerality. Consider pairing with turkey and cranberry sauce with Brussels sprouts and date syrup; cod and miso or duck with orange sauce.”

Listen to our podcast with Olive and Anthony Hamilton Russell #TheConnectedTableSips (under 12 min.)

 

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Oceano Wines Continues to Make Waves Among Fans

Rachel Martin and husband, Kurt Deutsch, are founders/owners of Oceano Wines, single vineyard cru wines sourced from the Spanish Springs Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, California. Oceano’s second release Chardonnay 2017 has earned national awards and critical acclaim. In 2019 Oceano released its first Pinot Noir, vintage 2018, to rave reviews. We recently had the chance to sit down with Martin for a first taste and catch up.

Launching a wine brand takes marketing savvy. Martin earned her cred working with her family's Boxwood Estate Winery in Middleburg, Virginia.  While Oceano Wines is pure coastal California, Martin and Deutsch call New York City home base. He is a Grammy Award- winning and has worked on cast records for hit shows including The Band's Visit, The Book of Mormon, In the Heights, and Beautiful.

Martin is active in many causes to support women, including Les Dames d'Escoffier International.   Sixty percent of every dollar spent in the production of Oceano’s wines goes to women- and minority-owned businesses.

Marbue Marke
Winemaker Marbue Marke, Oceano Wines

Fun fact: Oceano's winemaker, Marbue Marke, grew up in Sierra Leone, Africa. Originally he planned to become a doctor enrolling at University of California-Davis, with an eye toward medical school after college. he ended up switching careers to study enology.

Why we love these wines:

These are wines with fruity -driven finesse and a clean finish. It's no surprise these wines are popular coast to coast in restaurants. The best way to order your bottles are at www.oceanowines.com

2018 Oceano Pinot Noir, Spanish Springs Vineyard CA - San Luis Obispo County  $45.00/750 ml

Bright ruby color. A layered nose of strawberry, red currant, cranberry, rose petal, fresh tobacco, beet, and vanilla. A red currant attack leads to a focused mouth of pomegranate, raspberry, cherry, rhubarb, and cedar. Silky smooth tannins give way to a bright strawberry finish that finishes long.

2018 Oceano Chardonnay, Spanish Springs Vineyard, CA - San Luis Obispo County $38.00 /750 ml

A bright nose of jasmine, key lime, white peach, honeydew melon, green mango, and peach blossom. A lemon attack leads to a juicy mouth of green apple, quince, nectarines, kiwi, and guava. Notes of kaffir lime highlight the long refreshing finish.

2017 Oceano Chardonnay, Spanish Springs Vineyard, CA - San Luis Obispo County $38.00 / 750 ml

Deep yellow color. Nose bursts with green melon, lemon curd, guava, sea salt, ocean breeze, white tea and honeysuckle. Crisp yet vibrant, lovely texture on a medium/full-bodied frame, but zesty and balanced. Lemon, green apple, melon, tangerine, topped in sea salt, hints of toasted bread, vanilla and ginger.

2019 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition Platinum Medal Winner
2019 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge Platinum Medal Winner - Wine of the Year

Buy wines here: www.OceanoWines.com

Listen to our SIPS podcast with Rachel Martin: