Recent Sips: Youngberg Hill 2012 Aspen Pinot Gris and 2012 Cuvee Pinot Noir

Hello Friends,

I recently had a chance to connect with Wayne Bailey, proprietor and winegrower of Youngberg Hill, during his visit to the DC Metro area with his wine savvy daughter, Natasha. A small group of friends and I tasted through four of Wayne's wines from the 2012 vintage while he told us about his hilltop property, wine-growing philosophy, and vineyard in McMinnville -- a sub-appellation of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Before Wayne purchased the property in 2003, it was founded in the early 20th century and farmed by a Swedish gentleman named, of all things, Youngberg. Then in 1987, a financier took over and built a beautiful inn on the property’s rolling hills. In 1989, well-respected winemaker Ken Wright saw potential in the land and planted Pinot Noir, using the fruit for his Panther Creek wines.

Having a splash of Youngberg Hill Pinot Gris

Today, the property serves as an inn, tasting room, winery, and vineyard – and Wayne now has ten harvests under his belt. Much like the early Oregon pioneers of the 1960s and many grape growers thereafter, Wayne had a European experience and fell in love with Pinot Noir. He looked for a place to grow it and make wine and by 2003, the Willamette Valley had a sterling reputation for having the potential to produce world-class Pinot Noir. So making Oregon home was a no-brainer.

Youngberg Hill is a 50 acre estate with 21 acres under vine – 5 acres of Pinot Gris and 16 acres of Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir plantings from 1989, which account for 12 of the acres, are own-rooted and planted on two distinct blocks that are named after Wayne’s daughters; Jordan and Natasha. The other four acres of Pinot Noir were planted in 2008. Since farming the property in 2003, Wayne and his team have practiced organic farming (LIVE certified) and are moving towards employing some biodynamic practices. In this blog post, I’ll review Youngberg Hill’s Aspen Hill 2012 Pinot Gris and Cuvee 2012 Pinot Noir; both of which I recommend. The 2012 Natasha and 2012 Jordan single-block Pinot Noirs show good character, complexity and depth and will be reviewed in an upcoming post. For further information and where you can find the Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, please see my tasting notes below.

Youngberg Hill 2012 Aspen Pinot Gris

Review: Youngberg Hill 2012 Aspen Pinot Gris (SRP $18): Medium-bodied and fresh with a vibrant tropical core that’s accented by aromas of ripe pear and muted mineral tones. The palate offers yellow-fleshed fruits framed by a slight brackish quality with a supple mouth-feel and crisp, citrusy acidity (i.e., tangy) that carries through from start to finish. Overall, a delightfully pleasing, food-friendly wine that’s ready for spring or summertime sipping. Approximately 107 cases of this wine were produced. Region: McMinnville, Oregon. (Other info: ABV 13.7%, 100% Stainless, screw cap enclosure.) 88 Points. Click here to find this wine.

Youngberg Hill 2012 Cuvee Pinot Noir

Review: Youngberg Hill 2012 Cuvee Pinot Noir (SRP $30): This ‘Cuvee’ is an appellation blend produced from mature (average age 25 years old) vines in the Willamette Valley’s McMinnville and Amity-Eola Hills sub-appellations. Deep garnet in color, this wine features aromas and flavors of black cherries, blackberries, and purple stone fruit with appealing brown spice and mineral notes. On the palate, ripe fruit flavors are supported by well-balanced acidity and soft round tannins that melt into a textured, lingering finish. You generally get what you pay for with Pinot Noir, and this is well worth the asking price of $30. Approximately 290 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon. (Other info: ABV 14.5%, 25% new oak for 14 months, screw cap enclosure) 89 Points. Click here to find this wine.

Look! Wayne's first #selfie

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This wine was provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

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