2011 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
From the early days until today, our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has always been the wine that defines Elk Cove.
The 2011 is bursting with bright red cherry fruit and juicy dark fruit character, framed by silky tannins and great acidity, with notes of chicory, cedar and cinnamon. The most approachable drinking style Elk Cove makes, this wine also shows great complexity for a Pinot Noir in this price range.
At the close of harvest 2011, many winegrowers breathed a sigh of relief. Feelings of déjà vu from 2010 were evident as the picking pushed even later into the season, making it one of Oregon’s latest harvests on record. Yet, differences will mark them unique. Yields in 2011 were opposite of 2010, when production was down significantly due to poor fruit set and damage at harvest from migrating birds. This year, sunny weather brought good fruit-set and large compact clusters. The large crop had many growers thinning to one cluster per shoot. And the birds did not ‘help’ reduce yields as they did in 2010. Thus allowing normal yields compared to the dramatically reduced vintage in 2010. While the heat index shows a warmer vintage in 2011 than 2010, most notable was when the heat came. This vintage brought the ‘nice weather’ late in the season allowing us to let the fruit hang 15 days longer for fantastic flavors and better pH and acid balance. Winemaker, Adam Campbell, comments, “the late and cool vintage really highlight why we choose to grow grapes on the viticultural edge. Extremely long hang time gave us wines with concentrated ripe fruit flavors, beautiful freshness and lower alcohol. These wines are why we love Oregon!” Reminding Oregon vintners, once again, those who held on patiently will be richly rewarded in the 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 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.
- Vine Age 10 - 38 years
- Yield 1.9 tons/acre
- Harvest Sugars 23 Brix
- pH 3.47
- Vatting Fermentation in small open top steel fermentors. 10 months in French oak
- Cases Produced 14,915
Two of our Pinot Noirs have been chosen as a “Year’s Best Pinot Noir” by Wine and Spirits Magazine – our 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (91 Points and Best Buy) and our 2011 Mount Richmond (91 Points).
– Wine & Spirits Magazine (April, 2014)
“The 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot is a “perfect example of a wine that has tons of fruit, but still has great characters other than fruit. That’s when you know you’ve had low yields and hillside farming on great vineyard sites”
– Winemaker Adam Campbell