2017 Estate Vineyard, Etzel Block Pinot Noir
94 Points (Wine Enthusiast)
Named to honor neighbor Michael Etzel (Beaux Frères), this concentrated blend of estate-grown blocks (mostly Pommard) rolls from cranberry to raspberry to deep black cherry fruit, all in sync and well ripened. It's a full-bodied wine, with a streak of Nutella leading into a smooth, supple, lingering finish.
AVA: Ribbon Ridge
LOCATION: North Valley Rd.
SOIL TYPE: Wellsdale
CLONAL MATERIAL: Pommard, Dijon 114
YEAR PLANTED: 1986, 2001
VINEYARD SIZE: 30-acre vineyard, 2.55-acre block
VINIFICATION: mostly 50% whole cluster fermentations
PICKING DATE: 10/05/17 and 10/08/17
OWNERS: Patricia Green Cellars
Planted on a north/northwest slope in 1986 this is the second oldest block in the vineyard. It is called the Etzel block since it faces our neighbor’s (Mike Etzel) property and we wanted to honor him and his distinct contributions to this particular part of the wine growing region. We have been using elements from both the 1986 Pommard planting and the 2001 Dijon 114 planting since 2014 and it has resulted in strong wines with deep personalities. The younger vines are coming into a fun age where the wines, when done well, have a special, energetic quality. The older Pommard brings that nuanced, earthy, quartzy-laced fruit to the table and the two combine in a way that is completely unique. Structured black fruit sets the tone in this wine with a tendency toward the earth driven shades finishing with an aromatic twist that is impossible to resist.
Wine history: In 1980, Harry Peterson-Nedry planted the first wine grapes on Ribbon Ridge at his Ridgecrest Vineyards. Two years later, the first commercial vineyard was established with the planting of 54 acres of Pinot noir and Chardonnay. It was Yamhill Valley Vineyards who first used these grapes to make wine in 1985. Other vineyards were soon planted in this relatively small ridge. The appellation became official in 2005.
Climate: Protected by geographical features to the north, south and west, Ribbon Ridge's grape-growing hillsides are slightly warmer and drier when compared to the adjacent valley floors. Ribbon Ridge's moderate climate is well suited for early grape growth in the spring, consistent and even ripening over the summer and a long, full maturing season in the fall.
Soils: The Ribbon Ridge region contains primarily sedimentary soils that are younger, finer and more uniform than the alluvial sedimentary and volcanic soils of neighboring regions. These moderately deep, well-drained silty-clay loam soils are part of the Willakenzie soil series and are of low fertility and ideal for growing high-quality wine grapes.
Topography: Geographically, Ribbon Ridge is a 3.5-mile long by 1.75-mile wide ridge that extends from the Chehalem Mountains. The ridge rises 683 feet from the Chehalem Valley floor, giving it an island-like appearance.
Site Characteristics:There are no other vineyards we work with that are as difficult to summarize in a neat package than our Estate Vineyard. There are 18 sections of Pinot Noir based on vine age and clone (as well a section of Sauvignon Blanc), elevation ranges from 250’ to 475’, Pinot Noir plantings were done in ten different vintages ranging from as early as 1984 to as recent as 2010. The vineyard is mostly Pommard but there is also 3 acres of Wadensvil, 3 acres of Dijon 114 and an acre of Dijon 777. Spacing varies from 5 x 6 to 5 x 8. Some blocks are inter-planted with every other row being of one age and every other a quite different age. Two blocks are inter-planted with two rows of the same age followed by one row of a different age. To add a greater level of confusion the vast majority of the site (the 25 acres at the higher elevation) is planted directly on top of the hill with a 360 degree aspect to the vineyard. Then there is the geology of the site which is an extremely sandy Marine Sedimentary soil sitting atop a large bed of sandstone sub-soil with a water table that is very deep and highly mineralized. This is a unique site to say the least.
Relatively early on into our time here we began to conclude that there were different natures not only to the separate blocks but a distinct stylistic difference between the two sets of plantings (vines planted between 1984-1990 and the vines planted between 1997-2001 along with the new 2010 planting). Since we dry farm here to encourage the downward growth of roots the older plants and the younger plants are at different root depth levels in the sub-soil and consequently have access to different levels and types of water, nutrients and minerals. The root system is what feeds the plants and ultimately the fruit on the vine and in this soft Marine soil this translates into very different flavor and texture profiles in the grapes.