2018 FORAGER Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
91 points, Gold Medal
Sunset Int'l Wine Competition
- FORAGER Pinot Noir illustrates that careful, experienced selection, blending and maturation of Pinot Noir lots grown in the Willamette Valley can deliver delicious flavors and interest.
- Excellent low-yielding sites, classic low-impact Burgundian winemaking techniques and careful maturation in top new French oak capture the typicity of this area - and the purity of this noble red grape variety.
The complexity of our 2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir comes from five clones grown in four distinct sites across the Willamette Valley which include Follie Hill, Howell Prairie, Yamhela, Garden and other renown sites. The soils in these sites range from volcanic-based basalts to well-drained marine sedimentary soils spread across elevations from sea level to 800 feet. All sites were hand-pruned, hand-thinned and clusters hand-sorted at harvest for optimum fermentations.
All lots were hand-harvested between September 9 and October 16 (except the Yamhela which was machine picked and Pellenc sorted). These compact Pinot Noir bunches were hand-sorted, mostly destemmed and cold soaked for 2-5 days in five and fifteen ton open-top fermenters. Fermentation began naturally and was completed with a variety of yeasts so to capture nuance of the various sites and clonal selections. Cool fermentation temperatures (~75-85°F) and 1-2 pigeages (manual punch-down) per day helped build structure, color and texture. They were on their skins for nine to fourteen days and then put to barrel while still fermenting. ML took place in barrel followed by ten months maturation (no racking) which contributed nuanced spiciness and a velvety mouth-feel. French oak was used for 65% of the blend, and of it 30% was new (Francois Freres, Cadus, Bouchard cooperages). The balance of the lot was tank matured to focus varietal purity. Limited SO2 was used and the wine was left on its gross lees for the entire aging process but without any lees stirring. We call our wine FORAGER to illustrate how growing, gathering & judiciously blending small lots of delicious Pinot Noir can deliver tremendous flavor and interest.
In 2018 the Willamette Valley had a near perfect growing season. The winter and early spring were wet and cold and cool weather persisted into June, delaying flowering and set. But ultimately set was healthy and the summer weather patterns normal. The sites were thinned after veraison to promote quality and uniform ripening.