2019 Estate Vineyard Old Vine Pinot Noir
94 Points - Vinous
Brilliant ruby-red. Vibrant red and blue fruit, potpourri and smoky mineral aromas; a hint of blood orange emerges with aeration. Sweet and energetic in the mouth, displaying raspberry and cherry liqueur, candied rose and spicecake flavors that slowly deepen through the back half. Shows strong energy and spicy cut on the tenacious finish, which is framed by polished tannins and leaves repeating floral and mineral notes behind. 20% new French oak.
Winemaking and Notes: As the Estate vines tap their roots deep into the soft sub-soil they eventually make contact with the mineralized water on the property. This brings a whole new element to the flavor and texture profile of the wine. This bottling comes from barrels sourced from the East Etzel Block Dijon 114 which was originally planted in 1986 and where most of the barrels go to the Etzel bottling itself, a 1990 planting of Pinot Gris that was grafted to Pommard in 2002, a 1997 planting of Pommard on a steep southwest facing slope and the Winery Block with vines dating back to the original planting of the vineyard in 1984. These blocks were done with fermentations ranging from destemmed to 66% whole cluster. Given the diversity within the vineyard (we have a 360-degree aspect on our hillside vineyard) and the range of vine age (20-36 years) we are able to pick at different times and then blend this together with a great degree of diversity and truly show the “Old Vine” characteristic of this site. The wine was bottled with just over 20% new barrel. The assemblage for this particular wine is always fascinating, because you can see the wine come together as the elements from each block are brought together. This wine is one of the few truly older vine bottlings that exists from Ribbon Ridge. Older vineyards here, have the capacity to translate the mineral laden nature of our water and soil into the refined, focused nature of the fruit. This AVA is a special place and makes some of the most interesting, dramatic and amazing bottlings!
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 1984-1997 and the vines planted between 1998-2001 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. The Estate bottling consists of 13 separate sections of the vineyard that were planted in the 1997-2001 (and 2010) window. The Estate Old Vine bottling can come from the remaining 5 blocks although sometimes 1 or 2 of those blocks are bottled separately.