Big Table Farm: Wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley

By Robin Alix Austin

It is impossible to meet Brian Marcy and Clare Carver and not fall in love with Big Table Farm. The winemaker/artist team produces outstanding wines from their 70 acre farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The name comes from a desire to provide a gracious and welcoming table for enjoying handcrafted wine and food with friends. On the farm Brian and Clare have chickens, pigs and cows, in addition to a large garden. They are in the multi-year process of planting a vineyard; Big Farm Table’s current releases are made with grapes purchased from other growers.

I first tasted Big Table Farm’s wines at last year’s High Museum Wine Auction. Their Pinot Noir and Syrah were among my favorite wines at the trade tasting. At this year’s High Museum Wine Auction, Big Table Farm’s wines were of the same high quality.

What initially attracted me to Big Table Farm’s wine is the whimsical label art. Clare draws these images, inspired by life on their farm. The artistry continues inside the bottle, with Brian’s finesse.

The chanterelle label is Big Table Farm’s 2010 Riesling, made with grapes from Brooks Estate Vineyard. The wine is barrel-fermented in neutral oak and left on the lees for 10 months. This is a dry Riesling, with notes of white flowers, lemon and almond that are balanced with fresh acidity.

The wine with grass on the label is the 2010 Pinot Gris from Wirtz Vineyard. What makes this white wine interesting beyond its taste is its pale orange color. Similar to how red wine is made, the skin was left on the grapes for a short time as they were fermenting. In addition to the color, the skin adds a touch of tannin to the wine. Notes of orange peel, raspberry, watermelon and spice make this a fun wine to sip.

Pigs and a steer are the images for Big Table Farm’s two Pinot Noirs. Don and Roger (the pigs) are on the label for the 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Ronnie the steer is on the 2010 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir. It’s Ronnie’s second time appearing on a label; as a calf he was pictured on the 2009 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Last year I wrote of the 2009 Pinot Noir, “[this is] Oregon Pinot at its finest . . . a must-taste for Pinot Noir fans.” I feel just as strongly about the 2010 Pinots. The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is fresh and juicy with flavors of cherry, raspberry, cola and spice. The Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir spent 10 months aging on the lees in 30% new French oak, which adds layers of vanilla, licorice and brown sugar to the ripe berry palate.

As with all of Big Table Farm’s wines, these Pinots are unfined and unfiltered.

Big Table Farm’s wine with the flatware artwork is the 2009 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah. This wine spent 22 months in 30% new French oak. Elegant and rich, the Syrah has flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, black pepper and cinnamon, with a long, satisfying finish.

From their table to yours, Big Table Farm’s wines are a real pleasure to drink.

For more information on Big Table Farm visit bigtablefarm.com.

This is part of a series of articles on wines from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Click here to read more.

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