We’ve been talking about the wines we tasted with Leah Jørgensen at the Uncommon Wine Festival back in July at Vista Hills Vineyard. And we have come to the end of our tasting. The 2015 Malbec is deep and rich and Leah tells us it smells like blueberry pie when it ferments. Mmmmm….now I’m hungry.
Leah sources most of her grapes from Southern Oregon’s Rogue and Applegate Valleys, but she makes her wines at Raptor Ridge in the Chehalem Mountains. She is a brilliant ambassador of Cabernet Franc, and while this Malbec may not be her signature grape, it really is delicious wine.
As this was the last wine we would taste with her, I wanted to savor it. She poured, and while I stuck my nose into the glass, she told me about the wine and how we had come full circle.
2015 Malbec from Leah Jørgensen Cellars
I have one more wine and it is a book end. The Sav Blanc that we started with and this wine are from the same vineyard. The Crater View Vineyard with all that Ancient marine material I was telling you about. So this is not like an Argentina Malbec, it’s got incredible acidity, it’s actually got one of the lowest pH’s of all the red that I bring in. So you get incredible acidity from this and it’s all bright brambly fruit. It doesn’t go as leathery, it does get plummy, but it just a very pleasant drinking Malbec.
It has a lot of structure and a lot of tannins and it’s really bright now, I wonder if you will get more of that leather and bottom that’s going to come out of it as it ages?
Well because there is so much acidity in this, I think it’s going to stay in a nice balance and I think that’s what makes the difference. So a lot of reds that we think are ageable reds, like cab savs from California, they don’t have the same acid profile, unless they add it. But it doesn’t naturally have the same acid, so they are going to have all that tannin structure and not as much acid, it’s gonna go in a certain direction. But when you already have berry fruit flavors on the palate and you have acid that’s already there it’s kinda like cab franc, it’s going to carry that wine.
Tell me how you make this then.
We pick it, it’s one of the last things that come through the door. The berries are big, they look like blueberries and when people come down in the cellar, they are like, “what is that smell?”. It is the most fragrant, aromatic, beautiful ferment in all of the cellar. It’s like blueberry pie, because you know that fermented yeasty and then the blueberry..it smells like blueberry pie, it’s delightful. It’s my favorite smelling ferment.
When we finish fermentation, we press it and we go straight to neutral barrel, so again, I used mostly neutral barrels. 8 months in oak just like the others, but we reserve in the bottle, I bottle age this a little longer. Just because I think it benefits from a little more time. We don’t make much of it, it’s not a flagship wine like the cab francs that we like to quickly release, cause we like to stay in business. But I can reserve this one a little bit. It’s not a one off but it’s something that we do that’s an extra. It happens to be my dad’s favorite. My dad love’s grilling and he does amazing dry rubs. He will do like a marionberry barbeque sauce with it, and it’s pretty good.
Marionberries…they are a Northwest thing and they are actually a variation on a blackberry. I had a slice of Marionberry pie the other night that was delightful and would have really been great with this wine and the thought of a marionberry barbeque sauce had my mouth-watering.
On other things
In between all of our discussions that you see on the video we also spoke about her 2016 Cab Franc, about Virginia, where she grew up and the amazing Cab Francs coming out of that region these days. She told me about working at Chrysalis Vineyard in Middleburg, the home of Norton. She and Asa got married in Middleburg and had their rehearsal dinner at Chrysalis. (Michael and I visited the area last year). We talked about their “Côte Clos Rogue Valley”, their homage to Clos Roche Blanche and their Grande Reserve which gets a little extra time in the barrel. We talked about neutral oak. Any new oak she gets is puncheons to allow for less surface area and she only uses those for the reserves.
Aging Cabernet Franc
We also discussed Cab Franc and it’s ageability.
When you compare it with other grapes it’s one of the few that have both (intense acid & tannins) and so that’s what makes a grape super ageable, it’s structure building, it adds structure and ageability to those blends. So Cab Francs on their own will age forever. You can put these down and they get more and more interesting over time. So even just seeing more time in the barrel then we hold the wines we reserve them for 9 months before we release them. So all that little extra time, you have to be patient, it’s hard to be patient when you are a new business, but it does make a difference in the quality of these cab francs.
At one point we got all distracted as a group of people on horseback arrived to the tasting. It was enchanting. And that was our conversation with Leah, just enchanting. Almost as enchanting as the thought of a fermentation room filled with the aroma of blueberry pie.
Find this wine and other details on LJC
Want to find a bottle? You can find it at Leah Jørgensen Cellars squarespace or look for one of the smart establishments that carry her wine. There is a list here.
This wraps up our conversation with Leah but you can check out our previous episodes with her that include: Leah Jørgensen – Pirate Princess & Winemaker, Grapes of Southern Oregon with Leah Jørgensen, Southern Oregon Sauvignon Blanc with Leah Jørgensen, Blanc de Cab Franc…What? Leah Jørgensen Cellars 2017 Rosé of Cabernet Franc and “Tour Rain” Vin Rouge – Leah Jørgensen Cellars
Check out Leah’s updated website at https://leahjorgensencellars.com/
You can find her on on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too!
And join us back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles as we continue sharing our conversation with Leah! And don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
What a great interview. Love the insight about her wines and can’t wait to find them and give them a try. Cheers!
What a great read Robin! I’ve never heard of Marionberries, they sound delightful! And the Malbec too 😉
I’m a Raptor Ridge fan! So cool!
I have not visited Raptor Ridge, but if they are friends with Leah, they must be good peeps!