Firesteed Cellars Winery
2006 Pinot Noir
Oregon: Willamette Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Virtual No More
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Investigate rumors of Firesteed Cellars Winery and their lovely Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Firesteed Cellars Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Bryan Croft
Home to nearly two-thirds of Oregon’s wineries, the Willamette Valley, just south of Portland and along the Willamette River is well known for Pinot Noir and other Burgundian varietals. Its deep and fertile volcanic soil, cooler climate most directly effect viticulture. Most of the vineyards in this area are planted in the valley’s and hillsides along the river. The climate is cool and wet during the winter and generally warm and dry during the summer. The region boasts six sub-appellations and is nearly perfect for cool weather varietals.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy in color with ruby streaks through its clear core. Along the edges, the color remains burgundy with garnet hues and when swirled, slow thin legs descent to the wine’s slightly springy surface.
Smell – Medium in intensity with bright aromas of red fruit including raspberry, red cherry and strawberry linked together with a touch of spice, soft vanilla oak and a subtle dusty earth component.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium-bodied wine has soft and ripe tannins with bright but balanced acidity.
Taste – Soft red fruit with the cherry, raspberry and strawberry found on the nose. Almost restrained, light and fresh. A touch of soft spice and pepper, vanilla toasted oak and hints of dusty earthy minerals.
Finish – Medium in length with the ripe and pretty fruit fading gently with hints of vanilla oak and spice lingering just a bit longer.
Conclusion – The 2006 Firesteed Cellars Winery Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a lighter and fresher take on Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and is perfect for day-time enjoyment. Not overly complex, but with fresh red fruit, spice and vanilla oak from start to finish this wine is very approachable and quite enjoyable and food friendly. We paired this wine with mild poblano chile rellenos stuffed with chicken and cheese along with a roasted corn and black bean salsa.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Bryan Croft
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis/ BA Economics, 1992. The School of Hard Knocks 1992 to present.
WINE JOB BRIEF: Thirteen vintages with Firesteed Cellars in the heart of Oregon’s, Willamette Valley.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balance through blending. In vino veritas.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: from my 5 year old son, recently, _"I’m not like everyone, but no one is like everyone." ~J.T. Croft _
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Firesteed first commercial release, 1992, Oregon Pinot Noir. 2000 Oregon Pinot with Bryan at the helm.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Bryan. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Williamette Valley Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BRYAN CROFT: Thank you for inviting me Agent Red, you’re not wearing a wire are you?
RED: Of course, I am! Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BRYAN: No, my grandfather became a California winemaker after prohibition (possibly before) and that’s all the inspiration I needed!
RED: Our intel suggests that he was making wine before. What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER Ooooo, good question! 1984 Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir.
RED: Interesting that you should mention Stemmler! Keep an eye on our site, next week, and you’ll know why. Who do you make wine for?
BRYAN: I make wine for the people.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BRYAN: This wine is the highest quality blend of the 2006 harvest from our Estate vineyards and select growers throughout the Willamette Valley.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER:Bistecca Balsamico. Grass fed, free ranging beef from Real Farmers.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Willamette Valley so special?
BRYAN: The climate.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BRYAN: Bottling wines from the beautiful 2009 vintage and planning/preparations for the upcoming harvest.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BRYAN: From the south (unless you live in Washington).
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
WINEMAKER:Yes! Our Riesling, Rose of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay…
RED: Don’t worry, our Operatives will find those – right here – soon enough! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the physical Firesteed Cellars Winery in Oregon can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About The Wine:
Oregon’s tremendous 2006 vintage began with beautiful weather at flowering, allowing grapevines to set a normal-sized crop for the first time in several years. The near-perfect conditions all through the growing season lead to a smooth harvest in September and October.
Our 2006 Pinot Noir continues the tradition of consistent style, achieved with gentle techniques in the cellar and imagination in the vineyard. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts propagated from cellars in Burgundy, pressed during the last days of fermentation, and racked as soon as the wine finished malolactic fermentation. Just a touch of barrel-aged wine was included in the blend to round out the flavors and enhance complexity. Grapes for this wine, as in previous years, were sourced from throughout the Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue and Walla Walla Valleys, creating a truly ‘Oregon’ blend.
The wine is richly aromatic, like a warm berry cobbler topped with cold vanilla ice cream. Lively in the mouth, each sip is brimming with black cherry and raspberry flavors that continue through to the richly rewarding finish.
About The Winery:
For nearly ten years, people have been calling Firesteed a “virtual winery” because of our unprecedented approach to this ancient agricultural business. From the onset, we have been committed to making premium quality varietal wines at prices people can truly afford. These pages have been developed especially for people in the trade who want to explain the Firesteed concept to potential customers: A concept that combines the latest in quality management, market response and service to our business partners with a great trust in the cycles of the sun and rain, the fertility of the soil and belief in the artistry of winemaking.
The Story: In the early Nineties, the public’s attention was turning toward red wine and distributors were hard pressed to meet the new demands: high-quality varietal wine that was vintage dated and very affordable. During those years, Howard Rossbach was visiting markets throughout the country, representing the interests of wineries from the Pacific Northwest. The plea from consumers for affordable wine could not be met by his clients, who struggled to cover the overhead of vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms.
Howard sharpened his pencils, picked up his telephone and set out to find the solution. It wasn’t long before he located growers that were producing excellent Pinot Noir grapes in Oregon, a winery that had more room than it needed, and a highly-regarded winemaker with time on his hands to consult.
That was the genesis of Firesteed and the business strategy that continues to be successful for us, our growers, distributors, and wine consumers. Production of the 1992 vintage was about 7,000 cases. This year, we hope to surpass 60,000.
If you attempt to call Howard a negoçiant, you’ll see him positively bristle. Although a respected profession in France, the term “negoçiant” in the U.S. connotes a scavenger, opportunistically snapping up the unsold wines of dedicated producers and pasting on a pretty label. Firesteed wines are truly destined to be Firesteed wines, from the first raindrop that trickles off the leaves in Spring.
Consistent quality is ensured by long-term contracts with carefully selected growers and with two designated wineries. Today, we are making two wines: Our well-established Pinot Noir in Oregon and a Barbera d’Asti in Italy. We are not confined to a growing region, and are free to explore the opportunities that interest our customers. As the writer Diane Teitelbaum explained in her coverage of Firesteed, “When you are ‘virtual,’ the world is your vineyard!”
As wine lovers ourselves, these are wines that meet our expectations: A label that looks nice in candle light and on a picnic table; superior packaging; varietals that pair well with a wide range of foods; wine that is true to its varietal and represents the best of its growing region; and the assurance that the bottle we serve this year will be as good as the one we remember three years ago. And, a reasonable price. Whenever we look at the possibility of producing a new varietal, these are the hurdles it must surpass.
TA: 5.50 g/l