A New Oregon Pinot Noir ProjectBy
Several years back, I met Mark Tarlov, a movie executive/producer, who was launching a very comprehensive new wine project named Evening Land Vineyards. I remember being flat out astounded at how complex & multi layered this project really was, after hearing Mark unfold the portfolio. The grapes were coming from incredible pedigreed parcels out on the true Sonoma Coast (having purchased the Occidental Vineyard of Kistler fame, located on iconic Taylor Lane); Oregon, where they exclusively leased the highly revered Seven Springs Vineyard; AND some unique & interesting parcels from Burgundy, France which superstar winemaker (& their consultant) Dominique Lafon sourced. In addition, they cleared the land & planted a “dream” vineyard way beyond the Santa Rita Hills appellation western most boundary on a hillside teaming with silaceous clay soils & completely naked to a relentless, pounding sea wind.
With at least 4 winemakers on payroll, ELV unveiled a very comprehensive list of various color coded labels, where each color designated a different level of quality on a Burgundian like model. In short, this wine project was a game changer.
Roughly 2 years ago, Mark Tarlov left ELV to venture on his own taking with him the true vision & passion of producing top echelon, game changing Pinot Noir, somewhere in the U.S..
It is no surprise than he has again resurfaced in Oregon, THIS time, however, teaming up with Mike Etzel Jr (his father of Beaux Freres) AND consultant/superstar French winemaker Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Comtes Liger-Belair, one of Burgundy’s top estates.
This is really the ground level beginning of this wine project & at this point I am not really sure of the hows & whens….BUT one thing is for sure, with so many roosters in the hen house, I am sure it will evolve!
We had a chance to sit down with Mark Tarlov to “talk story” and to taste through 4 of his 2012’s.
This projects as it stands today, actually has TWO labels–Two Messengers…..& Chapter 24. From my perspective, in the Burgundian model, Two Messages would be “Village” level wine….and Chapter 24 would be (Premier/Grand) Cru level.
I am told Louis Michel suggested to work with several vineyard sources to produce the Two Messengers’ wines & Mike Etzel Jr was the perfect guy to get the job done right.
This wine projects essentially works with 2 kinds of soils, sedimentary and volcanic. This bottling in this vintage was 50/50 of each, done with whole berries & aged in 25% new oak.
Like the rest of their wines, this 2012 was lovely & elegant with surprising buoyancy, minerality & ethereal-ness as it flowed along & down the palate.
Furthermore, unlike many of the New Age winemakers seeking to produce lower alcohol wines, this one finished at 13.5% yet still had lushness, superb texture & interesting-ness…..with a wonderful tension between fruit & acid.
(FYI–the 2011 is a different schtick…..it is a barrel selection from Patricia Green)
2012 Two Messengers Pinot Noir “Flood” is produced from vineyards which have the sedimentary rock & provides a fabulous comparison to the other Pinots.
2012 Two Messengers Pinot Noir “Fire” is produced from vineyards which have volvanic based soils. Each of these 3 pinots finished at 13.5 alcohol & saw 25% new oak. Lovely Pinots!
2012 Chapter 24 Pinot Noir “Shea Vineyard” is the flagship wine. The 2012 is from a hilltop of 777 from the iconic Shea Vineyard. 13 % alcohol, 75% new oak. I thought this was an amazing wine! A Game-changer! I can’t wait to try a finished bottle! Kudos to Mark Tarlov & his team. This wine should be released next Spring, so keep an eye out for it.