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.
This is what we consider on a year-in, year-out basis our most unique and exotic wine. This is, as always, our only wine that is made in 100% new Cadus barrels. This wine is a textural experience beyond any of our other wines. Rather than attempting to show, in pain-staking detail, the individual qualities of the vineyards we work with the Notorious bottling is about a particular style of wine that is richer, more intense, denser in texture and more lifted aromatically than our other bottlings.
In 2019 the eight selected barrels come from Balcombe Vineyard (2 barrels of Pommard planted in 1990 and fermented with 40% and 60% whole cluster from Blocks 1A and 1B), Estate Vineyard (1 barrel from a 2000 planting of Pommard done with 66% whole clusters), Freedom Hill Vineyard (1 barrel of Dijon 115 done with 100% whole clusters) and the vineyard we moniker as Mysterious (3 barrels, 1 from a 1990 planting of Pommard done with 0% whole clusters two from a different block of Pommard with 100% whole cluster). These are all incredibly well farmed vineyard with 3 organic sites representing the near totality of the fruit.