So, what does a pelican-laden harvest following a dry, uniquely hot summer bring in terms of the wines? The answer is perhaps not what you would expect. It wasn’t what we were expecting and the surprise is very pleasant one. When we began picking, the two initial surprises were the moderate sugar levels and higher than expected acidity level in the fruit. Regardless of the location or the variety, we encountered sugar levels that were only slightly higher, on average, than in 2019 which is widely seen as a cooler vintage (it wasn’t, really) and a very good vintage as well. Overall makeup of the acidity profiles in 2021 were similar to, and in many instances, higher or at least more robust than in 2019. We joked that people simply are not going to believe us when we start talking about the lower alcohol, higher acid Pinot Noirs from the 2021 vintage.
Fermentations were exceptionally active, volcanic even, with nearly each fermenter having large amounts of frothy, pink foam at the height of their activity. This is a very good sign. Every year some small percentage of fermenters will have this sort of rollicking action going on, but the only other vintage I can recall seeing this across the breadth of fermenters was 1999. Many who read this may not know the history of Oregon vintages well enough to know what that means around these parts. 1999 was a late vintage where an epic October allowed for picking into November. The wines from the 1999 vintage were, by many in the business, considered to be the strongest batch from the decade and on any Oregon wine historian’s list of great vintages it is going to be listed somewhere.
CLONAL MATERIAL: Pommard, Dijon 114 YEAR PLANTED: 1986, 2001
VINEYARD SIZE: 30-acre vineyard, 2.55-acre block
VINIFICATION: All 50% whole cluster fermentations in 1.75 ton open top fermenters.
PICKING DATE: 09/25 and 09/27/18 TONS/ACRE: 3.05
OWNERS: Patricia Green Cellars PRODUCTION: 18 Bottles
*Wine Club Only
Winemaking and Notes:The Etzel block section of our vineyard planted in 1986 slopes to the northwest directly toward our neighbor Beaux Freres. The name is an homage to the owner and winemaker there: Mike Etzel. This wine has always pulled some of the most interesting characteristics out of the site and that is its reason for existing on its own. For some reason this has always been the most nuanced and most mineral-driven of all our wines. There are 2 sections within the East Etzel Block as we interplanted rows in this block the year after we arrived. The rows were still 12 feet apart and we wanted to have tighter spacing so Dijon 114 was interplanted to make more efficient use of the land. The older Pommard (planted in 1986) was fermented in a single 1.75-ton open-top fermenter with 50% whole clusters, and went through a standard cold soak of about 5 days before being pigeaged 1x/day, pressed, and allowed to settle for 3 days. The Dijon 114 was fermented in three separate 1.75-ton open-top fermenters, all of which had 50% whole cluster inclusion, before going through a standard cold soak of about 5 days, and being pumped over until fermentation started. It was only pigeaged 1x/day before being pressed and allowed to settle for 3 days. The wine spent a little less than a year in 33% new barrels along with a combination of a one time- and a four times-used barrel. This wine is aromatically complex and nuanced. Minerality and seductive dark fruits combined with great complexity on the palate creates a wine that shows elegance, intricacy and intensity. This is a perfect example of how soil-influenced older vine Pinots from the Ribbon Ridge can be. The addition of whole cluster fermentation furthers the aromatic qualities and drives the graphite notes on the palate and tightens the tannins up on the back end.
VINIFICATION: 2.5-ton open-top fermenters done with 100% whole cluster and 35% whole cluster fermentations.
PICKING DATE: 09/30/18 TONS/ACRE: 3.16
OWNERS: Dan and Helen Dusschee PRODUCTION: 229 cases bottled
Winemaking and Notes: This section of the vineyard was planted in 2000 and the cuttings came from the 1972 section of Coury Clone at Hyland Vineyard. What all this amounts to is that this is one of the most fascinating single vineyard bottlings we make on a yearly basis. Coury Clone is definitely something that leads with the nose first and foremost. To ensure that this feature is as prominent and beautiful as possible we have been using 35-50% whole cluster fermentations since our first vintage working with the fruit in 2012. We used 50% whole clusters again in 2018. It works, and in excellent vintages like 2018 the aromatics are especially intoxicating and unique. This bottling shows the flipside of Freedom Hill Vineyard which is known for power, intensity, sap-laden wines with lots of structure. This is graceful and aromatic, and while intense, it is discreetly so. Amongst the staff at Patricia Green Cellars this particular bottling is a distinct favorite.
VINEYARD SIZE: 26-acre vineyard, ~2.8-acre PGC blocks
VINIFICATION: Multiple fermentations with all done in 1.5 or 1.75 ton bins with whole cluster on the Dijon 115 ranging from 10-50% while 100% destemming on the Pommard and Mariafeld.
PICKING DATE: 10/02 and 10/04/18 TONS/ACRE: 2.99
OWNERS: Todd Hansen PRODUCTION: 168 cases bottled
Winemaking and Notes:Lia’s Vineyard, to us, is about the unusual (in Oregon) combination of soil types due to the change in elevation that the vineyard has over a relatively small amount of overall acreage. That is what makes this vineyard fascinating and, in our cellar, totally unique. The Pommard at higher elevation in volcanic soil produces intense, sultry and concentrated Pinot Noir and the Dijon 115 leans to a much more structured and savory style since it comes from the marine soil at the bottom of the vineyard (this is still in the middle of the overall hillside). The Mariafeld is at an even lower spot on the hill than the Dijon 115 and it adds its own little thing to the whole situation.
This bottling marks the 9th vintage we have received fruit from this vineyard although we have only bottled this individually for the past 7 vintages. Over the years this wine has moved the way the vineyard has which is to say in an entirely positive direction. In 2009 we were interested in the vineyard as we had just begun getting fruit from Olenik Vineyard below it but the farming was far off what it needed to be in that vintage for us to begin a relationship. In 2010 and 2011 we received fruit but not exactly what we wanted. Even in 2012 when, as noted, we started in the sections we thought had the greatest potential the overall quality of the wine was good to very good with the latter being the rarer barrels. In 2017 we started to see movement to more sustainable and organic practices with a corresponding uptick in the quality of the fruit we are receiving. In 2018 that surge has become so prominent that the very good barrel is rare and the excellent barrels are what we now use for this bottling. This still follows along historic lines with 12 barrels coming from the Dijon 115 sections, 7 from the Pommard and 1 from the Mariafeld which acts almost like a binding agent for the other two clones. There is an aromatic element to it that is far more floral than it has been in the past vintages and the wine is a bit more inviting while now showing more intense and sophisticated tannin structure than in the past. It’s full of space for one to explore rather than being a wine that simply rushes at you with a full-throttled intensity. This wine is quite integrated at a very young age which is surprising given the dispirit clones, vine ages, elevations and soil types. As we have explored more vineyards just outside the eastern edge of the Ribbon Ridge AVA we have found these incredibly dynamic, floral and simply lovely Pinots that are d