2021 Notorious Pinot Noir
Wine History: 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 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. The last twelve vintages (2007-2019-there were no 2013 or 2020 bottlings) of our Notorious bottling have received scores of 94, 93, 94, 93, 94, 95, 94, 94, 95, 96, 95 and 97 from The International Wine Cellar/Vinous.com.
Composition: In 2021 we had a wealth of barrels from which to choose and selected a record number of barrels for this bottling. In the past this has largely been a Dundee Hills dominated wine. For instance, the 2019 is over 60% from the Dundee Hills and the 2019 is 75% from the Dundee Hills. Our Estate Vineyard not only thrived from a production stand point (over 90 tons were harvested which far exceeds any previous vintage) but also the quality was of the absolute highest quality. Seven of the fifteen barrels come from the Estate Vineyard in 2021. The Dundee Hills is still well represented with three vineyards contributing a total of five barrels. Pommard is far and away the dominant clone with twelve different barrels showing. Freedom Hill contributes the two Wadensvil barrels and Durant the Dijon 115 clone. As time has gone on and we have grown, we have added some different cooperages in our cellar, moving away slightly from being 100% Cadus. Eleven of the barrels are still Cadus, one is Chassin, one is from a very small cooperage called Tonnellerie Sud Ouest and two are from Francois Freres. Whole cluster inclusion ranges from completely destemmed to 100% whole cluster. Four of the barrels were from de-stemmed fruit while the other eleven had ranges from 50-100%. We feel that for this wine all these diverse expansions will further add to the richness, complexity and exotic nature of this bottling. 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 of an effort as we have ever come up with for this unique bottling.
Nature of the Wine: 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. The 2021 wines are concentrated, and lean red fruited but that is not an across-the-board statement. For instance, the Freedom Hill Pommard is exceptionally dark fruited and the Arcus Block 5 is not far afield from that profile. Even with a greater inclusion of the mineral-toned Estate Vineyard fruit, this wine still is Notorious in every aspect to us. In short, a wine balanced at a beautiful point of power, largesse, deftness, mass and elegance. This is a unique environment to find barrels that honor the character and quality this bottling has historically delivered a wine that should be a benchmark bottling even within the context of a wine routinely rated as one of the top Pinot Noirs produced in Oregon. The different sites contribute incredibly explosive barrels to the mix and a diverse selection of whole cluster fermentation regimens provides an element of complexity within the blending process. 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 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.