2017 Notorious Pinot Noir 9 Litre
97 Points - Editors’ Choice (Wine Enthusiast)
This is the only wine among the winery's vast portfolio that is aged in 100% new French oak. Its green label also sets it apart from the rest, and it's priced as a reserve (from a winery whose every bottle could be called a reserve without a quibble). It's a stunning wine, vibrant with rich red and black berry fruit, cherry, orange peel, root beer, toast, chocolate and on it goes. Just a splendid bottle in every possible way.
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 2017 the eight selected barrels come from Balcombe Vineyard (2 barrels of Pommard planted in 1990 and fermented with 20% whole cluster and 60% whole cluster from Blocks 1A and 1B), Estate Vineyard (2 barrels, 1 each from a 1990 planting of Pommard done with 40% whole clusters and from a 1997 planting of Wadensvil done with 60% whole cluster ) and the vineyard we moniker as Mysterious (2 barrels, 1 each from a 1990 planting of Pommard done with 60% whole clusters and 100% whole cluster), Freedom Hill Vineyard (1 barrel of 100% destemmed Pommard) and Hyland (a new vineyard to us but an old vineyard in the McMinnville AVA where we get a 1989 planting of Coury Clone that we destemmed entirely). These are all incredibly well farmed vineyard with 3 organic sites and 1 biodynamic site making up 7 of the 8 barrels.
This is, as you would expect, exceptional stuff born of great vineyards in an exceptional vintage. We really enjoyed working out the blend here and are incredibly pleased with the combination of dark, structure-oriented barrels with the highly textured and aromatically complex barrels. This is as fine an effort as we have ever come up with for this unique bottling. The last nine vintages (2007-2016-there was no 2013 bottling) of our Notorious bottling have received scores of 94, 93, 94, 93, 94, 95, 94, 94 and 95 from The International Wine Cellar/Vinous.com.
The capacity of this wine to absorb and integrate the new barrels into the fruit flavor and structure of the wine is one of the aspects of this wine that makes it stand out in a certain way beyond our other wines. Wines need depth of flavor and structure to take the 100% new barrel regimen even when the barrels are of the nature that we use which, in general, are a lighter touch than many other cooperages. Still, the spice and structural component in the barrel will be found in the wine, especially at a younger age. In 2017 the wines are rich, aromatically complex and intense, densely fruited but with a deftness brought about by balancing acids and incredibly fine-grained tannins. This is a perfect environment to find barrels that honor the character and quality this bottling has historically delivered while being a touch more approachable in its youth than in some other vintages. Five different sites contribute at least a barrel to the mix and in a fairly democratic fashion with no site contributing more than two barrels. This wine is intended to show the exotic places Pinot Noir can go to and still be immediately identifiable as Pinot Noir. The stable of vineyards we work with is unmatched in the state of Oregon and we select only the barrels that instantly say Notorious to us in our tastings. The oak is present but deft and will eventually drop to the background and serve only as a framing element. This wine is built to be great, comes from the best of the best sources and delivers every single vintage. To date the oldest versions of this bottling (2000 and 2001) are still drinking very well and are surprisingly youthful. Yes, this is an esoteric wine in the sense of how it is made, how it differs from all our other wines and that it is frequently our top wine of any given vintage despite being a blend rather than from a single vineyard. That is a bit of the fun of this bottling to go along with the pure deliciousness of the wine.