Marcus Goodfellow Hits a New Level of Winemaking
I’ve recently tasted several 2015 pinot noirs from Goodfellow Family Wines. The wines are his new “Heritage” bottlings, which highlight old-vine, single-vineyard sources that he’s worked with over time – in some cases, more than a decade. The Heritage wines are the best wines Goodfellow has bottled to date, and mark a new chapter in his development as a winemaker. For his continued improvement over more than a decade, for the undeniable consistency he has achieved in recent years in particular, and for the superb Heritage series bottlings from the 2015 vintage, Goodfellow should be recognized as an upper echelon winemaker in the pantheon of Oregon wine.
I’ve had a few epiphanies over the years with Marcus’ wines. One was a few years
back when he moved into his own production facility in McMinnville, and gained greater control over his schedule and equipment. His wines took a leap forward then, and became significantly more consistent.
Another was at a blind tasting some months ago, where a group blind-tasted red and white Burgundy against the Goodfellow pinot noir and chardonnay. While I have followed the wines since the first bottling, and I knew that Marcus had a goal of making ageable, Burgundian-style wines, I was mostly unable to discern the difference between white Burgundy and Goodfellow, leading to the inescapable conclusion that he was indeed making Burgundian style wines, and at a quality level equal to Premier Cru (a notable achievement).
But it took a tasting of the Heritage series pinots two weeks ago to realize that Goodfellow wines had reached a new level. One of the things that elevates these wines is a remarkable, rich texture. Despite their dense fruit and significant extraction, these bottlings already have a supple texture with rounded, silky tannins. Part of that is vintage character, but another major factor is an extended post-fermentation cold soak, where the wine stays in contact with the skins for 40-60 days. This helps the tannins polymerize (form bigger molecules) which changes the texture of the finished wine in a desirable way. They are muscular wines that are approachable young, with great cellaring potential.
“The Heritage wines came about for two reasons,” says Goodfellow. “We know from blind tasting that we can compare to Premier Cru Burgundy, but the goal is to pursue Grand Cru quality in Oregon. We do this by selecting vineyard sites and selecting barrels that are closer to Burgundy than the new world.
“The Heritage bottlings focus on that idea. The name has meaning, too. Heritage is both what you inherit, and what you pass on to the next generation. In the modern world we, inherited the bounty of the Willamette Valley, and it is our duty to pass on legacy wines that are both ageable and show that Oregon is ready to take its place beside Burgundy as an elite growing region for pinot noir and chardonnay.”
I judge his effort as highly successful.
2014 Goodfellow Pinot Noir Heritage # 4
Whistling Ridge Vineyard
$69 / bottle
World Class Wine Club
Pinotguy 94+ Points
This site is known for focused, structured wines that can take great patience to show well. But with the ’15 Heritage bottling, Goodfellow has crafted a wine that captures the power of the wine, but marries that power to a supple, densely textured mouthfeel. It’s a classic “iron fist in a velvet glove” type of wine. The fruit expression is the darker, mineral-infused and broad-shouldered type that Ribbon Ridge can produce, but in the mouth the wine already shows of a highly layered, complex and lengthy personality. The fruit flavors are essentially endless, with a finish that just keeps going and going. It is approachable now, but will age effortlessly for a decade or longer.
2014 Goodfellow Pinot Noir Heritage #5
Durant Vineyard Old Vines
$69 / bottle
World Class Wine Club
Pinotguy 94 Points
This bottling features intense, dense, fruit from the redder end of the spectrum, typical of the Dundee Hills, and also sports the same richly textured mouthfeel and incredible length. While obviously extracted and possessing formidable dry extract, there is still lift and focus here. While the wine is already deliciously approachable, cellaring is guaranteed to reveal currently hidden depths. Buy a couple to drink and a couple to lay down.