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A. F Nichols Willamette Pinot Noirs
Pure Pinot, Pure Pleasure
October 25, 2016
"Tasting wine all day, I'd love your job."
I hear that or some variant all too often. People don't realize how much repetitively competent but boring stuff you have to taste through before coming across something exciting and original. But tasting becomes real pleasure when something really hits the mark.
A couple of weeks ago a friend who keeps his nose to the ground came to me with some Willamette Pinot Noirs made by a young winemaker I had never heard of. It is a side project, an after-hours labors of love. These can be extraordinary, as attested by Pierre Morey's success post Leflaive and Giles Troullier's after Michel Chapoutier's Bila Haut.
Andrew Nichols' day job is oenologist for Argyle wines, but he makes just a few hundred cases of Pinot under his own label. A F Nichols wines are most un-Argyle like. Where Argyles tend to big and bold, the Nichols Pinots are of finesse and precision, the essence of Willamette Pinot Noir.
Andrew worked for a time at Adelsheim. That winery's style must have influenced him. I was struck by the wines' linear purity and restrained elegance. Through both good and lesser vintages, they were crystalline-pure, soft acids playing off dry strawberry-inflected fruit.
My two favorites were the 2014 Pinot Noir is his basic wine. The 2013 Principio, a barrel selection, is deeper and fuller but keeps the incisive purity of the 2014.
You won't find these wines in the Wine Spectator, at Costco, or any of the bigger stores. There is too little of them for those to bother with or even notice. They miss these singular pleasures of my tasting work that could be yours at table.
2014 A. F. Nichols Pinot Noir; Aroma: deeper plummy, a touch herbal, ; Mouth: plummy ripe fruit ripe clean fresh, sweet, crisp on the finish; Very Good Plus $27.99
Case $289 (24.08), Half Case $151 (25.17)
2013 A. F. Nichols Pinot Noir Principio; Aroma: fresh rather bright clean lightly herbal fresh, closed rather dense, fresh and deep; Mouth: thickish very clean lightly oaked juicy mouthfilling, very pure, very balanced, clean fresh; Very Good - Excellent $38
Special A F Nichols Case, six bottles of each $338
The wines will be coming from Oregon and will not arrive for two and a half weeks. They will be here in good time for Thanksgiving.
Order by phone at 617.367.8605, or reserve here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pass this on to any friends who are wine enthusiasts.
- Len Rothenberg