Oregon 2008: Keep
Fresh, elegant, balanced Pinot Noir with fully developed flavours from those winemakers who reduced yields and harvested latest. Good ageing potential.
Cold, late winter, then the coolest spring weather for quarter of a century – March and April were both several degrees below normal. Bud-break was delayed, up to four weeks in places, and flowering late and fragile.
Summer was cool too. Anticipating a struggle for ripeness many growers dramatically reduced yield, dropping bunches, to ensure remaining fruit gained sufficient concentration and flavours. Rainfall wasn’t excessive and mildew posed little problem, but as September arrived progress was still three weeks behind schedule.
Alarmed by early September rain, some growers panic-picked the vineyards, bringing in under-ripe berries. The more daring held out, and were rewarded with warm, dry October days and chilly nights, the perfect combination for full Pinot Noir ripening. Winemakers could pick when they wanted, typically starting early October.
An historic frosty spell 9-12 October had variable impact since most wineries had picking covered. Overall Pinot Noir yield was down 10-20% on normal.
When ripening at last took off, the coolish daytime temperatures kept sugar levels from shooting up too quickly. It meant the fruit could hang for longer than otherwise, all the while gaining complex flavours and retaining acidity.
The best wines (from right across Willamette Valley and high-elevation sites within Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley) are fresh, well-balanced, elegant, with moderate alcohol and firm structure. Age will improve them, when they’ll become more complex and exciting, though you may have to wait a year or two longer than usual.
Quality across the AVAs is pretty much uniform, and it will be those producers who reduced yield early and dared to delay their harvesting who will have produced the most harmonious Pinots.
So far: Penner-Ash, Elk Cove, Shea, Trisaetum, Beaux Frères, Drouhin Oregon, Hamacher, Andrew Rich, Domaine Patton Valley, MacMurray Ranch, Bergstrom, Adelsheim, Lange, Ayoub, Owen Roe, Firesteed, Rex Hill, Westrey Wines, Ayres, Criston, J Christopher, Amity, Holloran, Montinore, Brooks, Benton Lane, Lemelson, Soter.
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