Vintage 2010 brings to mind some catchy phrases. The year of the birds – Hitchcock style, let ‘em hang and our favorite, and slogan for the vintage – “Hang ‘10”! Yes, harvest was later than normal. An exceptionally cold, wet spring was followed by what many seasoned producers recall as one of the shortest summers. However, 2010 was not the worst of years. The ‘attack of our feathered friends,’ whose almost unprecedented assault on valley fruit, also indicated nature’s signal that the fruit was ripe and grapes good indeed. Winemaker, Adam Campbell, comments in response to vintage nervousness, “you know, we have been doing this for almost 40 years, and it’s not the first time we’ve had slow ripening. We’re optimistic about it and we know exactly what to do.” Even science agrees. Climatologists show similarities to the great 2008 vintage; reporting lower yields, small berries and full flavor development at lower brix levels – all signs pointing to high quality wines with lower alcohols.
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 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.