After seeing the praises heaped upon Olson Ogden’s most recent vintages, I finally pestered proprietor John Ogden into getting a look at them firsthand. In fact, he invited us over for dinner and a tasting, where we walked through all six of the winery’s current releases, all 2009 releases save for the lone white wine.
There’s not a dud among them, starting with the well-aged but super-fruity 2008 Olson Ogden Marsanne Margaret’s Mandate (named after, and presumably mandated by, John’s wife). Two Pinots and a blended red, Milla’s Blend, named after John’s daughter (consisting of Syrah, Counoise, Pinot Noir, and Roussanne), followed. Then came the winery’s signature bottlings, two Syrahs.
The matched pairs of Pinot and Syrah both showed how the same grape can express itself so differently depending on the growing region and winemaking style. Olson Ogden is typically hands-off with its wines, and here the Manchester Ridge Pinot showed so much power compared to the more delicate and restrained Alder Springs Pinot, even though both came from Mendocino. Similar story in Syrah, though here the Unti Dry Creek Valley bottling was classic and lightly smoky, with the Alder Springs showing more bright fruit up front.
Here are some more detailed thoughts on my favorite wines of the night. Give these a try!
2009 Olson Ogden Pinot Noir Manchester Ridge – A bold, classic style Pinot, with big black cherry notes, chocolate, and touches of olives. The finish wanders toward semi-sweet territory, with more berry flavors — blueberry and strawberry, especially. A / $55
2009 Olson Ogden Syrah Alder Springs – Gorgeous nose of blackberries and a touch of smoke, with deep leather and tobacco notes. Big body, with a long finish. Lovely balance between berry notes and deep, savory elements. A / $65