Legion of Pinot 2014
Greetings! We are excited about the 2014 “Legion of Pinot.” This year we are upgrading the barrel, AVA, and “out-of-bottle” experience (with a new more sophisticated label design). The 2014 vintage was the hottest vintage in Oregon history. One of the big differences between this vintage and previous hot vintages of 2003, 2006, and 2009 was that these years had spiky heat waves where you would have a few days of 100+ degrees. 2014 was consistently warm and the results are very balanced wines that are similar to 2012 (another great vintage).
This year we tried over 18 different barrels of 2014 Pinot Noir from 4 wine makers and decided to partner with the same winery as last year, Chehalem, and same winemakers Harry Peterson-Nedry and his daughter Wynne. We had tasted wines from all three of their vineyards this year, and set our sights on Wind Ridge which is a newer vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA. There are literally hundreds of barrels that we could have tasted which would have taken days. So during our last meeting, Wynne had selected about 15 barrels that matched the flavor profile we were looking for:
Bouquet: Something aromatic and distinctive. We wanted a wine that you would be perfectly happy putting your nose in the glass for a while.
Color: Deep. We love a deep and dark Pinot
Flavor: We were looking for something that reflected the 2014 vintage, big, bold, and smokey.
The perfect barrel requires you to consider many characteristics. Here are the key ones we look at:
Vineyard: This is the most important factor. The vineyard determines the soil type, the weather, and a host of other characteristics of the wine. Wind Ridge is a great site. The first vintage from the vines was from 2006. The wine from that vintage still is one of our favorites, and in 2012 the Pinot that came from that site (although blended) is epic.
Clone. Almost all grapevines are created from cuttings, rather than seeds. As a result, there is a direct relationship between a vine and its parent, all the way up to the original. Each clone has different characteristics such as aroma, tannic structure, acidity, and of course…taste. We tasted barrels that were 100% Pommard, 777, 115, and a blend of Pommard and Wadenswil.
Barrel Age: We targeted one year old barrels. Barrels can impart a lot of flavor into a wine. New barrels tend to give the wine a lot of oak. This is diminished in a one year old barrel allowing the fruit to be a bit more expressive, and is almost unnoticeable in a two year old barrel (used a third time).
Cooper (Manufacturer of the Barrel). Barrels from each Cooper impart a different flavor in the wine. Barrels included those from Francois Freres, Tonnellerie Rousseau, and Saury. Furthermore, barrels differ in the forests that they originated and how long they were air dried. Each of these barrel variables provided a very noticeable difference in each wine we tasted.
Since 2014 is such a strong vintage, it was very difficult to select this year’s winning barrel. In the end it came between:
14PNWR777FW-1. This is 2014 Pinot Noir, from the Wind Ridge Vineyard, 100% Clone 777, from Block 1, fermented in a 4-Ton wooden open-top fermentor. Cooperage is Tonnellerie “Quintessence”. Juice in this barrel was harvested on 9/19/2014.
14PNWRPOMBLK5-C. This is 2014 Pinot Noir, from the Wind Ridge Vineyard, 100% Pommard Clone, from Block 5, fermented in a 2-Ton stainless steel open-top fermentor. Cooperage is from Tonnellerie “Rousseau”. Fruit was harvested on 9/18/2014.
The first finalist was excellent. But in the end we picked barrel finalist number two. Wynne said “This barrel is ‘Reserve’ in status, as in, one of our favorites from the cellar that I would love to keep for our own blends.” Deep, dark, and expressive fruit. The second was big, but not nearly as aggressive as the first. What we really liked was the nose on it. It was the type of Pinot that you could put your nose into the glass for a few hours.
If you or your friends think of Pinot as light fruity wine think again. The 2014 is a big wine but at the same time a bit elegant, this is the Pinot Noir for you. It will be what we call “universal” in that both casual and serious wine drinkers will love this wine. Furthermore it is enjoyable with both food, or by itself. In fact, you can drink this Pinot with a steak if you wish.
Of course the biggest challenge of the Legion of Pinot is that we only do one barrel, and like a snow flake, its place in this world is unique and will never repeat. Only 244 bottles of this gem are going to be produced.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we do,
The Barrel Project
2014 Pinot Noir
Ridgecrest Vineyards – Wind Ridge Block (100% Pommard Clone, from Block 5)
Ribbon Ridge, Oregon
What a blockbuster of a vintage! Fully-ripe, luscious fruit, the crew has found a stellar sophomore release to the Barrel Project.
Darker and richer than year one, Ribbon Ridge shows-off bramble and spice, blackberry and cherry, intensity and complexity. Best of all worlds.
Who doesn’t love some succulent ribs, wings, and tenderloin to pair with the deep, rich components of this Pinot Noir? Nobody, that’s who.
Barrel # 14PNWPOMBK5-C – Cooperage is Tonnellerie “Rousseau”. (Once filled 2013)