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.
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