Yes, but be delicious!
A View From the Cellar - January/February 2019, Issue 79
2016 Pinot Noir “Armstrong Vineyard” (Ribbon Ridge)
-Even though the Armstrong Vineyard is located in the slightly warmer microclimate of Ribbon Ridge, this is his lowest octane pinot noir in 2016, as it comes in at an even thirteen percent alcohol. The wine is beautifully light in color and offers up a very pretty, red ruity nose of cherries, strawberries, allspice, woodsmoke, gamebird, a complex base of soil and just a whisper of new wood. On the palate the wine is pure, complex and full, with a gorgeous portrait of its underlying soil, nicely integrated tannins, bright acids and lovely focus and grip on the long, complex and youthful finish. This is a superb bottle that is very easy to drink today, particularly with thirty minutes in decanter, but it will be even better with some cellar time.92.
Drink 2019-2055. 92
2016 Pinot Noir “Johan Vineyard” (Willamette Valley)
-The 2016 Johan Vineyards pinot from Franny Beck is one of the ripest wines I have yet seen from this cool vineyard, as it comes in at 13.7 percent octane, but the summer of 2016 was a scorcher in Oregon. The wine is absolutely stunning on the nose, soaring from the glass in a very complex blend of red and black plums, cherries, cocoa powder, a gorgeous base of soil, a touch of sweet stems, gamebird, cloves, woodsmoke and cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, pure and full, with great transparency, a lovely core of sappy fruit, ripe, seamless tannins and a long, tangy and complex finish. This is a great bottle in the making.
Drink 2025-2055. 94
2016 Pinot Noir “la Chênaie Vineyard” (Eola-Amity Hills)
-The 2016 la Chênaie Vineyard bottling from Michael Sterling is a touch riper than the Armstrong, coming in at 13.6 percent octane, but sharing the same precision and purity on the nose and palate. The bouquet is a bit more black fruity than the above, wafting from the glass in a mix of black cherries, pomegranate, woodsmoke, gamebird, raw cocoa, a touch of fresh thyme, dark soil tones and a whisper of new oak. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, complex and very nicely balanced, with a fine core of fruit, lovely soil signature and a long, moderately tannic and vibrant finish. This is still marked a bit by its whole clusters on the youthful backend and will need some bottle age, for those who do not like the youthful flavor of stems, but structurally, it is accessible already and if whole clusters do not bother you, it is already quite tasty. That said, its best days are still ahead of it and I would choose to bury it in the cellar for five to seven years (even though I like whole clusters), as it is going to age beautifully.
Drink 2025-2055. 92+
2016 Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley”
-As I mentioned after my visit to Michael Sterling’s Franny Beck Vineyards back in the summer of 2017, his Willamette Valley bottling is not his entry level wine, but is a blend of his three single vineyard wines, merged to make a different interpretation of the vintage. The 2016 version is outstanding, offering up a pure and complex nose of red plums, black cherries, spice tones redolent of clove and nutmeg, a lovely base of soil, a bit of smoked meats, incipient notes of cola and a very discreet base of new oak. On the palate the wine is very transparent, focused and full-bodied, with a fine core, stellar soil signature, ripe tannins and a long, youthful and tangy finish. This is a superb bottle of pinot noir in the making, but it is a puppy and needs four to six years in the cellar to start to blossom. It is going to be lovely in the fullness of time.
Drink 2025-2050. 91+
2017 Rose of Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley”
-The 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir from Franny Beck Wines is a lovely bottle of rosé, offering up a youthful bouquet of melon, strawberries, dried flowers, a touch of orange peel and a nice base of soil tones. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and succulent, with a good core, just a wisp of residual sweetness, good acids and fine length and grip. Despite this wine not being bone dry, it is definitely built for the table and really would be lovely with salmon in particular. Good juice.
Drink 2019-2023. 89
Praise for our 2015 Franny Beck Wines
A View From the Cellar - July/August 2017, Issue 70
2015 Pinot Noir “Armstrong Vineyard” (Ribbon Ridge)
-The 2015 Armstrong Vineyard pinot is the first wine that Michael has made from this property, with his grapes having been picked on September 4th and yielding up a very classically ripe wine at 13.2 percent octane. He used one-third whole clusters and all older casks for his debut vintage of Armstrong, which offers up a beautiful and youthful bouquet of red plums, cherries, raw cocoa, a superb base of soil, incipient notes of cinnamon from the stems and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is fullish, complex and tangy, with a lovely core, fine-grained tannins, excellent balance and a long, focused and very classy finish. The wine is very accessible right from the start, but has the balance to age long and gracefully as well. This is really a beautiful bottle in the making and an auspicious beginning for the Armstrong Vineyard pinot noir from Michael and his wife.
Drink 2017-2045+. 92+
2015 Pinot Noir “Johan Vineyard” (Willamette Valley)
-Michael Sterling is making one of the most beautiful examples of pinot noir from Johan Vineyard fruit and his 2015 is outstanding. The wine comes in at 13.3 percent octane and was raised in one-third new oak in this vintage. The nascently complex bouquet jumps from the glass in a very pure and gently sappy blend of red plums, cherries, raw cocoa, a very complex base of chalky soil tones, lovely spice elements in the upper register and a judicious framing of cedary oak. On the palate the wine is fullish, pure and transparent, with a sappy core, fine-grained tannins and outstanding length and grip on the seamlessly balanced and still fairly primary finish. This deserves at least a couple of years in the cellar to allow some of its secondary layer to emerge, but it is already a great glass of wine and it is not going to be easy to keep one’s hands off of it! It will age beautifully and its real peak is probably tent to fifteen years out from the vintage. Superb juice.
Drink 2019-2050. 94
2015 Pinot Noir “la Chênaie Vineyard” (Eola-Amity Hills)
-The la Chênaie Vineyard was planted in 2001 and sits at six hundred feet above sea level and in the pathway of the cool afternoon winds that blow in from the ocean through the Van Duzer Corridor. This was clearly beneficial in the hot summer of 2015, with the resulting wine at Franny Beck coming in at 12.9 percent octane. Michael used one-third whole clusters for this wine and no new oak for the elevage. The bouquet on the 2015 la Chênaie is lovely, offering up a more black fruity mélange of plums, black cherries, bitter chocolate, lovely notes of clove and nutmeg, woodsmoke and a fine base of volcanic soil. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and nascently complex, with a beautiful core of fruit, fine focus and grip and a long, suavely tannic finish. This too is excellent and will offer the option of either earlier drinking or long-term cellaring. Impressive juice!
Drink 2017-2050. 93
2015 Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley”
-This bottling is a barrel blend of the three different vineyards, so the wine ended up around fifteen percent new wood and thirty percent whole clusters. The finished octane is 13.4 percent and the wine is lovely, encompassing many of the appealing elements of its three constituent components. The bouquet is a deep and complex blend of red and black cherries, cocoa, lovely spice elements, a fine base of dark soil, a touch of fresh herbs and a discreet framing of cedar. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, complex and very nicely balanced, with a good core of fruit, lovely soil tones, tangy acids and a long, classy finish that closes with fine-grained tannins and impeccable balance. Lovely juice.
Drink 2017-2050. 92+
Praise for our 2014 Franny Beck Wines
A View From the Cellar - September/October 2016, Issue 65
2014 Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley”
-The 2014 “Willamette Valley” bottling of pinot noir from Franny Beck was raised in fifteen percent new oak and comes in at a svelte 13.4 percent octane. The bouquet is complex, transparent and vibrant, offering up a classy blend of cherries, red plums, very pretty spice tones, a bit of gamebird, lovely soil nuances, an incipient note of chicory and just a touch of cedar in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, medium-full and very soil-driven, with a fine intensity, bight acids, little tannin and excellent focus and grip on the long and complex finish. This is a fine middleweight that delivers plenty of pleasure out of the blocks, but will also age very nicely over the mid-term.
Drink 2016-2030+. 91
2014 Pinot Noir “Johan Vineyard”
-The 2014 Johan Vineyard bottling of pinot from Franny Beck is a bit lighter in color than their Willamette Valley version, but equally pure and classy. The bouquet is vibrant and impressively transparent, offering up a lovely blend of cherries, strawberries, allspice, nutmeg, complex soil tones, woodsmoke, a dollop of fresh herbs and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is pure, medium-full and very soil-driven, with fine focus and grip, outstanding intensity very well for its long-term evolution. This is a very cool vineyard and the wine exudes all of the inherent complexity found in pinot grapes that take their time reaching full ripeness. High class juice.
Drink 2018-2040+. 92+
Burghound - January 2017
2014 Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley”
-This is quite aromatically pretty with overtly floral aromas of red currant, cherry and briar hints. The sense of elegance continues on the beautifully well-detailed, pure and energetic middle flavors that possess good if not truly special depth on the dusty, balanced and solidly persistent finish. This should repay a few years of cellaring which should add depth and allow the supporting structure to soften slightly. In sum, this is a restrained and graceful effort and I quite like the delivery.
Drink 2020+. 90