A few weeks ago, we made the trek down to Oregon wine country in search of the sacred barrel. We tried over 18 different barrels of 2014 Pinot Noir from 4 wine makers. It was a fantastic trip.
Vintage – 2014 was another warm, but not too hot vintage. It was dry with one of the earliest harvests on record, and one of the largest. Many of the wineries were reporting yields that were between 10% and 25% higher than average. Harvest time was dry and the winemakers were left to pick each vineyard when they wanted to. The result? Epic wines. The Pinots of 2014 are going to blow you away. They are fruit forward, with plenty of intensity, but also well balanced. While it is a bit early to tell, we think these wines will be approachable earlier than 2013. However, like any Oregon Pinot, will benefit from one to five years of cellaring.
Barrel – As far as the barrel that we have selected, well we haven’t yet. However, we have zero’d in on the vineyard. Last year, we selected a barrel from Stoller Vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA. This year (while this could change), we are most likely going to go with a Pinot from the Ribbon Ridge AVA, and a specific block within it. We already tasted about four barrels from this block, each barrel showed Pinot Noir that was very different from the rest. This highlights why this project is so much fun. Wine, especially Pinot Noir is totally different from barrel to barrel. You have several variables at play such as the Cooperage (maker of the barrel), the Clone of the vine it came from, and the specific block that brings soil type and several other variables into play.
Upgrades – This year we are upgrading the barrel, AVA, and “out-of-bottle” experience (new more sophisticated label design). Our winemaker had this to say when we were discussing which barrel. “These barrels are ‘Reserve’ in status, as in, our favorites from the cellar that I would love to keep for our own blends.” Two cases (24 bottles) will cost $1100 this year. This nets out to $45.83 per bottle. While this is slightly more expensive, this is still a great deal. This winery does a few single barrels for themselves, and they go for $65 per bottle. Remember that the Barrel Project is not a money maker we do it for fun and aim to break even.
Mike Neil our chief pinot expert had this final note “To close, look for another update in a few weeks. I recommend buying as much of this Pinot as you can. We only make 24 cases. The wine will be released to you as soon as it is bottled. As before, you will want to give it a few months before cracking it, but can expect to start sampling around Thanksgiving. Also, for those of you who got in on the 2013, it is drinking really well right now.”
The Barrel Project