December 23, 2016

An Exchange with Marcus Goodfellow of Goodfellow Family Cellars in Oregon

Dec. 21, 2016


OK, I opened the Goodfellow ’13 Willamette Valley PN last night. Threw it in a decanter.

My wife, a good taster, thought it was Burgundy (she didn’t see the bottle). Easy to see why with its restraint and its seamless elegance. Nice long wine. I had come to like it quite a bit by the last glass. And the seamless adjective–I don’t say that lightly.

I remember the Matello ’13 WV having more overt fruit. Am I right, and did you use less stems during its fermentation?

Here’s my concern, if I might, and that is that this is a base wine yet it’s not for everyone; it’s not readily understood, it has an edge of austerity. I say this as your distributor looking at inventory that has been slow moving, and maybe that’s why and it’s made the sales team wary.

I’m playing devil’s advocate. I really did like the wine, but to be straight up I wish it had just a touch more fruit to fill it out. It has great bones.


Dec. 22, 2016

Hi Roy,

My compliments to your lovely wife’s good taste. I think you have touched on the heart of my issue. The wines taste like Burgundy. We did a tasting with VV and 1er Cru wines last year with Goodfellow “ringers” for a group of somms. Only 2 people picked our wines out in 3 of 4 flights (and they knew the ringers were there). In the 2005 flight, no one recognized the ringer. We had a somm from Chicago out for harvest (we blind taste a wine every day at lunch), and every older Matello Pinot Noir she guessed Burgundy (I did not pull any ‘06 wines).

However, even for the higher end wines, that’s an issue. The large majority of consumers like more fruit in their wines than this, especially when it’s an entry-level wine. Also, so many US Pinot Noirs are just fruit driven that very few people understand the dumb phase of Pinot Noir any more or the idea that Bourgogne rouge from good producers are excellent wines with 10 years on them.

My conundrum is that 99% of wines sold in the USA are consumed within a day, but the 1% that are cellared are the wines that will ultimately determine a wine region’s place in the pecking order of world wine production. Exhibit A: 1985 Eyrie Reserve drunk in 1997 that David Schildknecht referenced as being the only GREAT Oregon Pinot Noir he’d ever had when he started covering Oregon, and the 1985 Arterberry Reserve tasted in 2014 that set David’s belief that truly great wines could be produced in Oregon (98 pts and his wine of the year). Do we as a region “fruit up” the wines and ultimately not have the wines that can do what the Eyrie and Arterberry did? Both of these producers were making wines very far to the AFWE [“Anti-Flavor Wine Elite”] side of the spectrum in the ‘80s. David Lett did so until he passed the helm at Eyrie on to Jason in 2005. Fred Arterberry did until his untimely death as well.

I’d say I could make the entry level wine a bit more accessible, but that’s easier said than done. Harvest in 2013 was a bit brutal after the rain in terms of being everywhere at once and making snap decisions in challenging conditions…

I’ll keep pushing to find that extra little bit of fruit as long as we’re not compromising the idea of legacy wine making. Someone has to stay focused on the long game up here.

Have a great Christmas!