2007 Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir
Oregon: Willamette Valley
What We Say
MAKE HISTORY ALERT:
Today’s wine will be tasted by our Operatives (and you), online, on March 14th, 2009, during a historic nationwide tasting. This tasting hosted via live video feed by respected wine writer Jordan Mackay, whose new book, Passion for Pinot: A Journey Through America’s Pinot Noir Country, features WillaKenzie Estate and will be released nationally next week.
EXCLUSIVE AVAILABILITY ALERT:
Today is your first chance to procure this exceptional Pinot Noir – a wine that has never been available to the public at today’s exceptional price
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
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Mission Codename: The Sip Tasted Around the World
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Select a second delicious Pinot Noir for our exclusive Twitter Taste Live event.
Mission Status: Ongoing…
Current Winery: WillaKenzie Estate
Wine Subject: 2007 Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Thibaud Mandet
Oregon’s 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 affect viticulture. Most of the vineyards in this area are planted in the valleys and hillsides along the river.
WillaKenzie Estate, named for the unique WillaKenzie soil with its vineyards near Salem, is perhaps best known for its exceptional Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and a commitment to sustainable farming.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Red with bright ruby hues and pinkish edges, a luminescent clear core and slow legs of medium thickness.
Smell – Medium intensity with well balanced aromas of baking spice and red cherry that evolves to include mild earthy and barnyard notes and subtle hints of floral violets, fall leaves and a mild vanilla oak component.
Feel – This medium-bodied wine is initially tart and tangy with bright acidity, fine medium tannins and a touch of minerality that is well balanced in its mouth-feel.
Taste – Well integrated flavors of red-fruit, specifically ripe red cherry and tart cranberry with notes of allspice, subtle earthiness and a lingering soft vanilla oak flavor.
Finish – Clean and of medium length with lingering flavors of tart red fruit and a touch of the soft vanilla oak.
Conclusion – The 2007 WillaKenzie Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir is classic Willamette in every sense. Bright red fruit, subtle spice and earthiness, an inviting nose, well integrated in its feel and flavors and an clean finish. Drink this wine now or enjoy it over the next several years. As spring approaches, this wine is perfect for enjoying with a variety of fresh spring foods as the days start to get longer.
“SLEEPER ‘ELEVAGE’ ACTIVATED ~ #TTL ~ PRIORITY ALPHA 7 ~ PROCEED TO RALLY POINT theta.”
That was the message I received on my W.I.N.E (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) smartphone. It was enough to jolt me out of my Pinot Noir-educed daydream about one day retiring to my own Pinot vineyard.
I gesture-swiped my smartphone, which purr-beeped my successful activation gesture. I lifted the phone to my ear and spoke, “Agent Red with an Alpha 7. I have a Sleeper activation and request immediate PN-asset backup at rally point theta.”
After two seconds I heard the acknowledgment chime and I swiped the phone to securelock.
Agent White burst into the room, out of breath.
Between pants, he said, “This is happening way earlier than anticipated. What happened?”
“Keep your cool, White. You know how good Agent Elevage is. I’m not surprised that she succeeded in her mission. I am headed to theta now. All PN-a’s have been dispatched as well. Awaiting individual acknowledgments but I expect them all to be there. You stay here at HQ and await direction.”
He started to argue with me, but I simply held up my hand as I walked briskly from the room. I love telling Agent White what to do, and since Elevage was my sleeper, I made the rules on this mission.
While en route to theta, I received the individual notifications from my Pinot Noir Assets, themselves a group of world-renowned PN experts, some of them Agents from around the valley – and around the country. They have been waiting for this moment, and I expect all of them to be there.
On arrival, Agent Elevage greeted me in the lobby of the secret location. We exchanged the safe phrase. Both of us satisfied that all was in order, Elevage escorted me into the room where our secret tasting was to be conducted. There, on the long table, were place settings for ten people. Each setting had 7 Pinot Noirs poured in equal measure into fine burgundy glasses. Each glass sat on a printed letter between A and F. In the center of the table, 7 bottles were wrapped in brown paper, each with a corresponding letter.
“Well done, Agent Elevage. I know that this deep cover mission has been long and perilous. You are to be commended for your efforts.”
Agent Elevage just gave a humble nod and then escorted me to my seat. Gradually, the rest of our tasting panel arrived. Our collective mission: Evaluate the 7 Pinot Noirs that Agent Elevage has procured – and choose the best for our historic online tasting.
Once everyone was convened, the tasting quickly commenced. The room was hushed at first, as everyone sniffed, swirled, sipped and spit. The only other sounds were those of pens on paper or keys clattering on laptops. These people were serious about their Pinot Noir.
When everyone was finished with their evaluation, spirited conversation took place as each of us listed our top three winners. One of our agents tabulated the results, and a clear winner emerged. Today’s 2007 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée 2007 was declared our favorite Oregon Pinot Noir in the tasting.
With that, Agent Elevage sprang up and dashed from the room. Over her shoulder she shouted, “I’m off to procure the remaining cases! There are only a handful left so…”
And she was gone, leaving the rest of us to share our thoughts on the wine. Following are some reports from our esteemed panelists:
Here are the impressions of some of our Pinot experts:
Agent Pourmore says:
2007 Willakenzie Estate Cuvee – Pale ruby purple color, with candy apples and strawberries on the nose. A floral, spicy wine that tasted a bit hot, with a ton of pepper and spice on the finish. I detected a hint of smoke,
and black raspberries along with dusty earth. This is a great value for an Oregon Pinot under $30 and I’d buy it if I saw it! B+
To learn more about Agent Pourmore, cache her CovertTwitter Stream.
And here is a detailed tasting experience another of our panelists, Dr. Pinot:
Doctor Pinot says:
“As the trees started to turn, Dr. Pinot left the city, to escape the monotony of the 24 hour news cycle. He could only stomach the news about the downturn once, or twice before shutting everything down to go live away from it all, on the river. The flys that he had tied earlier in his cellar workshop had worked well, as they mimicked the hatch perfectly; or, so the salmon had thought as they rose though the rapids to strike their last meal. The smell of the freshly landed fish, stuffed with wild fennel, cooking in a cast iron pan over the campfire, seemed to clear his head of all the recent hubris.”
“As he let the hot, whole fish rest, he reached into his knapsack, and pulled out a bottle of the new 2007 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir. Putting the neck of the bottle in his left hand, and with a twist, the bottle opened easily. As Dr. Pinot poured his first cup, and tasted the wine, his neurons lit up like the Aurora Borealis, now displaying overhead. This full-bodied wine, was sourced from the whole of the of the WillaKenzie Oregon Estate, featuring a melange of clones and sites on this hilly Willamette Valley vineyard. This young wine was not shy, as a flavor burst of Cape Cod cranberry, Cara Cara orange peel, Rainer cherries, Amity raspberries and fraise du bois, overlain with aromas of red fruit, distant camp smoke and antique cedar chests, produced a moment of organaleptic Zen.”
“The first bite of the still warm fish, followed by a taste of the WillaKenzie Estate Pinot, produced a seamless match as the bright fruit and supple tannins melded with the rich flavors of the Klamath River salmon. He doused the fire by pouring out the pot of java, and finished his new Pinot discovery, that now would be a staple in his cellar; and, Dr. Pinot knew that all was right with the world.”
To learn more about Doctor Pinot, follow his Top Secret Twitter Stream.
The Wine Spies would like to offer a hearty *thank you to all of our panelists, even those whose cover we cannot blow, but who provided their Pinot expertise and time for our blind tasting!*
TWITTER TASTE LIVE – LIVE TASTING ALERT!
Our LIVE online tasting will take place on March 14th. Detailed instructions on how you can participate will be included with your order. Just be sure to keep at least one bottle on hand. It’ll be hard, but try!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the WillaKenzie Estate can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2007 Estate Cuvée offers attractive aromas of red fruit, with hints of nutmeg and pleasing earthiness. The flavors match the aromas with fresh cherry and cranberry followed by subtle darker notes of blueberry and blackberry. The palate impression is refined yet refreshing with bright acidity and hints of citrus and caramel on the finish. This medium-bodied wine is extremely food friendly and will pair with a great variety of dishes including roasted poultry, salmon, lighter meats such as pork or veal, and charcuterie. Ready to enjoy now, it will benefit from one to two years in the cellar and will age well for up to five years from its date of release. It can also be served slightly chilled.
About The Vintage:
The 2007 vintage in Oregon will be remembered as a challenging one, requiring skills and dedication in the vineyard and winery in order make great wines. Budbreak occurred around April 8, but the vines did not start developing until late April due to cold, rainy weather. Bloom took place around June 12, followed by a good set. Véraison did not occur until the second week of August because of a very cool summer. High temperatures never exceeded the low 90s, and some nights in September were unusually chilly (36 degrees!). A cool growing season is great for Pinot, since it is a cool climate grape. Unfortunately, the rains came early, continuing steadily through harvest with breaks between downpours. We started harvest with Terres Basses on September 27 and picked at 24.5º Brix. We finished harvest after 5.5 inches of rain on October 26. Most of the vineyards were harvested between 23º and 23.5º Brix. With good sanitary conditions in the vineyard due to very careful viticultural practices, we elected to wait as long as we could before picking to ensure tannin ripeness. We also made extensive use of our state-of-the-art cold storage facility to dry and dehydrate the grapes before processing them. We are extremely pleased with the results. The wines show great concentration, ripe tannins and lower levels of alcohol. Both Thibaud and Daniel rose to the challenge and demonstrated that knowledge and skill always pay off.
About The Vineyards:
WillaKenzie Estate has a total of 68 acres of Pinot Noir. The vines are planted at 1,200 to 1,800 vines per acre, running north to south, allowing for maximum sun exposure. All of the vineyards are planted on Willakenzie soil, a type known for its excellent drainage. The plants are grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock and trained into an upright, double guyot trellising system. This wine is a selection of different Pinot Noir clones, including 113, 114 and 115. Starting with the 2007 vintage, we have changed the name of the wine from ”Willamette Valley” to “Estate Cuvée” to emphasize the fact that all of the fruit used to produce it is estate grown.
We made the 2007 Estate Cuvée in our gravity-flow winery with the goal of achieving a rich and elegant style. A cool maceration preceded the open-top, Burgundian-style fermentation that averaged 20 days of skin contact with daily punch downs. Following fermentation, the wine was blended with the press wine in a tank where it settled for several days before being racked to barrels. After aging for a total of 10 months in French oak (20 percent new) from a variety of coopers, the individual lots were blended to obtain a wine that is fresh and approachable when young. The 2007 Estate Cuvée was bottled with screw cap closures.
About The Winery:
WillaKenzie Estate is located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley on rolling hillsides in the Chehalem Mountains. The winery was named after the Willakenzie soil on which the vineyards are planted to convey the influence that the soil imparts on the wine’s flavors and aromas. The vineyards are planted with grapes of the Pinot family, mostly new Dijon clones of Pinot Noir as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc from Alsace. These cool climate grapes are particularly well adapted to the Northern Willamette Valley.
Bottling: Screw Top