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.