2017 Durant Vineyard, Bishop Block Pinot Noir
92 Points (Wine Enthusiast)
At first sip, just a touch of bitterness comes up, but given its youth that can be expected to smooth out over time. There are highlights of clove and cinnamon under bright raspberry fruit, and the wine penetrates into a tannic, astringent but lengthy finish. Best to tuck this away a few years before drinking.
AVA: Dundee Hills
LOCATION: Breyman Orchards Rd.
SOIL TYPE: Jory
YEAR PLANTED: 1973
CLONAL MATERIAL: 100% Pommard
VINEYARD SIZE: 60-acre vineyard, 4-acre PGC block
VINIFICATION: Two 1.5-ton open-top fermenters done with 100% whole cluster and three fermenters done with 20% whole cluster fermentations.
PICKING DATE: September 13th
OWNERS: The Durant Family
PRODUCTION: 350 cases bottled
Two fermenters of fruit were 100% de-stemmed and went through a normal cold soak of 4 to 5 days and then was fermented in 1.75-ton open-top fermenters and was punched down 1x/day before being pressed and allowed to settle for 3 days. Two other fermenters were done with 20% whole clusters, went through a standard cold soak of about 5-6 days, pumped over 1x/day until fermentation began and then was pigeaged 1x/day until dry and then was pressed and allowed to settle for 3 days. The wine spent about 10 months in barrel in 33% new oak. 5 and ½ barrels of the 20% whole cluster fermentation barrels were selected and 3 ½ from the 100% whole cluster fermentations. This combination allows for the forward, supple nature of Dundee Hills fruit to be showcased while in check by the old vine, mineral-driven elements of the 100% whole cluster barrels. This is a wine that has old bones and sensibilities to it while still having the stuffing that Dundee Hill wines are known for.
Site Characteristics: Durant Vineyard is, by any measure, one of the pioneer vineyards in Oregon. The site was established and first planted in 1973 by the same family that owns and farms it to this day. Set on Breyman Orchard Rd. at the southern end of the Dundee Hills the vineyard covers about 60 acres in size with a wide range of elevation topping out at about 600’ and several different plantings of Pinot Noir and other, lesser varieties. This is a mostly south facning site that is adjacent to Domaine Drouhin, De Ponte and Sokol Blosser. To give some perspective on how fertile and life-sustaining the soil is in the Dundee Hills there is also a successful olive orchard planted on the property from which the Durants make some pretty damn good olive oil. We get two sections of the vineyard. The Bishop Block which was planted to Pommard in 1973 and the Madrone Block which is a 2000 planting of Dijon 115 clone.
These now monster vines were planted back in 1973 making them some of the oldest vines in Oregon, thus giving this bottling an historical aspect to it. 44-year-old vines in Oregon are exceptionally rare both because there was so little planted acreage back then and some of that acreage has been re-planted due to Phylloxera. The fact that this site and wine exist at all is somewhat of a minor miracle. In part due to this, this wine knows exactly what it wants to be. It shows finesse, subtleness, elegance and discreet balance all backed up by a sneaky and looming firmness. Only older vines make wines like this. This is not a wine that needs to make a dramatic entrance, because all the work is done on the back end.