There is a quiet kind of excitement in the Willamette Valley after harvest 2008. Phrases and clichés keep rolling on such as classic cool climate, vintage conditions that are only dreamt of, potential to show the best of what Oregon has to offer. Add to this, repeated references to perhaps one of Oregon’s best vintages, 1999 and understandably many in the valley are smiling. Oregon’s 2008 growing season started late, with bud break on average ten days to two weeks behind schedule and followed with a relatively cool growing season. Thoughts of the recent wet and cool harvest of 2007 had many aggressively thin vineyards to concentrate fruit and speed up ripening and ward off disease pressure. Yet as in 1999, a beautiful Oregon autumn saved the day! Fall was spectacular with sunny days and cold nights, producing the tiny berries and small clusters not seen since the 1994 and 1998 vintages, laying the foundation to produce extraordinary wines.
Steep hillside farming, high quality plant material, low yields, and hand-harvesting all contribute to the quality of Elk Cove’s estate-owned vineyards. We do around 12 passes per year of contact with each vine including multiple rounds of thinning to ensure perfectly ripe fruit from our cool climate.
Our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is made with fruit from all five of our vineyard sites: Estate, Mount Richmond, Five Mountain, Clay Court and Wind Hill. We also purchase a small amount of select fruit from other producers who are longtime friends of Elk Cove. These sites are comprised of both Pommard and Dijon plant material, with multiple clones represented.
Because we draw from multiple vineyards representing all three of the major Willamette Valley soil types, we are able to pick and choose for different flavor components to make the best possible blend each year for our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Some people call this making wine “spice rack style”, we usually just call it delicious. Our goal is the perfect version of what we believe a Willamette Valley Pinot should be, a wine with freshness of fruit, well-integrated alcohol, and great concentration of flavor.
All of Elk Cove’s delicate Pinot Noir fruit undergoes the same gentle handling through our gravity flow system. This systems allows us to achieve the elegance, texture and luscious quality that are the hallmarks of exquisite Pinot Noir.
To make our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, fruit from each vineyard block is fermented separately in small, temperature controlled steel tanks, hand punched down twice daily, and barreled in 20% new french oak barrels. After 10 months of aging in 20% new oak, the wine we choose for the Willamette Valley Pinot is carefully blended to produce the most approachable, well-balanced Pinot Noir we make.