Friday, August 15, 2014

Looking Forward & Looking Back: Gypsy Dancer

Gary Andrus was, from what I've read, a giant of the American wine scene. I never had the chance to meet him. In 1978 he founded Napa Valley's Pine Ridge Vineyards, and then in 1993 he founded one of the biggest names in the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, particularly as the Valley developed it's reputation, in Archery Summit. Gary gained a reputation for focus, concentration and pushing the boundaries to see what was possible. He died of health complications in 2009.

Andrus was a Willamette Valley pioneer pushing the region on it's professionalism. Advocating for the region's quality and boldly establishing price points that reflected the quality of the wine being produced there.  Gary focused on clone selection and was a big proponent of whole cluster fermentation and the use of sometimes ample new oak. His wines at Archery Summit were known for being bold, extracted and with structure that was built to age.
In 2002 Gary and his second wife Christine started a new label called Gypsy Dancer named after their young daughter. The label was an opportunity for Andrus to refocus on a small interesting project, they had purchased a vineyard near Hillsboro as well as vineyards in New Zealand. Gypsy Dancer represented an opportunity for Gary to reconnect to the personal elements of winemaking and Christine and the family were heavily involved.  When Gary passed away Christine took their two children and left the Willamette Valley. " I was so closed down to the wine industry after Gary’s death, I tried to forget and move on with the girls." They moved to South Dakota, but Christine couldn't stay away forever. 

She found herself returning to the Willamette Valley and in 2012 talked with winemaker Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis about wanting to start up the Gypsy Dancer label again. This was two weeks before harvest mind you. Rebecca and Christine scrambled and secured fruit from friends at the Dukes Family Vineyards to craft small lots of what would become the new Gypsy Dancer flagship wine, the Legacy. 

As Christine was visiting with friends in the industry she had let Todd Hamina of Biggio-Hamina know that she had dusted off the Gypsy Dancer label and he mentioned that in 2010 he had made a wine he had described as a "Gary wine." One that he found reminded him of his former mentor and one that frankly didn't fit into the Biggio-Hamina portfolio. That wine has become the Gypsy Dancer's 2010 Tribute. While the Legacy will be each vintage's Gypsy Dancer bottling the tribute wines will be made in particular vintages by different winemakers whom Gary influenced, each one a sort of interpretation on a "Gary wine." And there is still a bottling made by Gary, their 2006 Cuvee Romy a blend of Pinot clones that was made as an Oregonian homage to Domain Romanee Conti's La Tache

Today's iteration of Gypsy Dancer is both a look forward, and a tribute to the past. "What Rebecca and I are doing with the Legacy, is taking what I have learned and her knowledge and practices and creating a new wine going forward that has it’s own merits and style. It is new and fresh and unique. The Tribute is obviously a tribute to Gary by definition, but is also a wine made to pay homage to a man who influenced many accomplished and successful winemakers who have their own wonderful styles themselves." 

2012 Gypsy Dancer Legacy Pinot Noir Classically Oregon but certainly reflective of the warm 2012 vintage. Fruit forward aromatics that offer up late season blackberry, crushed earth and black tea. Though the wine is reflective of the ripeness that 2012 was known for it retains it's elegance with flavors of dried fig, montmorency cherry, cinnamon spice and cola. In their first effort Christine and Rebecca have made a very nice wine and one to note as this new iteration of Gypsy Dancer evolves. $45

This wine was provided as a sample.


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