Enjoy a guest post by New Pi’s Wine Guy, Tom Caufield:
Robert Ervin makes about 500 cases of wine a year IN TOTAL, but since he grew up in Iowa, we are going to get a wee bit to sell here at New Pi, even though he could easily sell it all at the winery! All I can say is that you are in for a real treat. These are lovely wines: generously fruited and elegant, with a real sense of both place and balance. I called Robert up and quizzed him a bit and we thought you’d enjoy reading the interchange.
New Pi’s Wine Guy Tom Caufield with Monte Ferro’s Pinot Noir
Tom Caufield: When did you first become interested in wine?
Robert Ervin: I got into wine when we lived in Argentina from 1987-1993. Having been involved in agriculture as a career and retiring in Oregon, it was sort of an impulse decision to try to make some wine. We have a tiny vineyard at our home – 540 Pinot Noir vines – that we tend to and harvest for our “estate” garage wine. I am also a cheese maker.
Bob (Iowa boy) & Mignon Ervin of Monte Ferro Winery
No kidding, that’s really cool. What kind do you make and is it available commercially?
Sorry, I just make it for my family to eat – Brie is my favorite to make.
How did you get started actually making wine as a winery?
We go out and find great fruit that has produced great wine, from single vineyards to showcase the site and the skill of those who farm them. We contract fruit, delivering it to the winery at its peak, and contract with the best winemaker we know who has not only the skill but the artistry to get the most out of the fruit.
I was really taken with the marriage of elegance/finesse and power in your wines. So many wines seem to be “one note,” whereas I found yours to be layered and complex. Any secrets you’d care to share?
Our winemaker gets the credit. We are also fortunate to be able to select from a much broader array of vineyards in the Elkton and Umpqua Valley AVAs to get the best available fruit. While we also source fruit from the Willamette Valley, I’ve come to like these small – and in many cases, old – vineyards that hug the Umpqua River basin.
Favorite varietal to (a.) make and (b.) drink?
In prior years, I was a dedicated Bordeaux fan. The subtle nature of Pinot Noir – its delicacy and distinct flavor profiles by vintage – have swung me solidly over to Pinot Noir, and I’m especially fond of those made in Oregon. Pinot Noir is also a very flexible food wine.
I have always liked the Chablis of France, but not oaky California Chardonnays, which just do not make for good food wines in my opinion. That is why we decided to make our Chardonnay without oak, and largely without malolactic fermentation.
Any winemakers that inspire you?
A couple old guys in Italy that make great wine at their homes.
Any favorite winemakers from your neck of the woods?
Terry Brandborg, of course. There are so many talented winemakers, particularly gifted in dealing with our cool climate and year-to-year changes – which are so much less predictable than other grape growing regions. At the risk of forgetting some, I will name a few: Melissa Burr at Stoller, John Grochau of Grochau Cellars, Patrick Taylor at Cana’s Feast, Isabelle Duartre at Deponte, Lynn Penner-Ash, and David Paige at Adelsheim come to mind.
What’s your favorite:
Movie – Any one of the Coen brothers movies
Book – Jo Nesbo novels
Band – Eagles
Robert Ervin’s wines are simply brilliant, a real treat, and featured in Tom’s Top Ten Wines for July & August at both New Pi stores –
Monte Ferro, Oregon, 2012:
Unoaked Chardonnay, Chehalem Mountains: Raised 100% in stainless steel, evoking memories of the very best Chablis you’ve ever had. Bright, mineral-driven, with the perfect balance of acidity and lush fruit. Simply delicious.
Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley: So many Pinots have pitch-perfect acidity but lack fruit; this one’s balance is uncanny. Mid-palate fruit followed by finishing acidity keeps it crisp and invites you back. Really classic Oregon Pinot Noir with a lovely berry fruit emphasis.