The best way I've found to explain grape clones is comparing grapes to roses. A rose is a rose, but there are different types of roses, and each has their own unique characteristics in how they look and smell. Similarly, the different clones of pinot noir are all pinot noir, but each have their own attributes. Some are more floral and some more spicy. Some are earlier ripening and tend to be more fruit forward, and others are later ripening and are more expressive of some of the secondary flavors in grapes. And.. because it's pinot noir in Oregon, each clone will express itself in a different way depending on the site where it's grown. So.. there's a lot of choices to be made before we even start to get in to what we decide to do in the winery!
In 2019 I chose not to blend a Winemaker Cuvee pinot noir, and to focus instead on a three different clones of pinot noir from three very different vineyards and I bottled three "reserve" pinot noirs from 2019, all very much with their own personality:
2019 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir: This is 100% Pommard clone pinot noir from the Balanza Vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA. Pommard was one of the earliest clones to be planted in Oregon. It tends to be later ripening and maintains acidity pretty well. It has a soft, supple mouthfeel and when grown in the jory soils of the Dundee Hills it shows the typical bright red berry flavors of the AVA with a floral (rose?) aroma and a bright minerality. This wine is pretty and elegant and very feminine. We released this last November to the wine club and it's now available generally on our web site. $35 (47 cases produced)
2019 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir: This is 100% Wadensil clone pinot noir from Stewart Vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA. This is the other clone that was planted in the early days of the Oregon wine industry. It tends to be very aromatic with a particularly spicy note. I think it works wonderfully with the darker red fruit flavors and slightly richer tannins of this Ribbon Ridge vineyard. We just released this to the wine club. It will be generally available on the web site in April 2021. $35 (98 cases produced)
2019 "943" clone Pinot Noir: This was my first time working with this newer pinot noir clone. I tried to research it online prior to working with it and found such varying responses to it. It seems to be particularly expressive of the terroir where it's planted. I found it in Jubilee Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. I fermented it as 50% whole clusters which seems to add to what I think is the inherent peppery characteristic. Early on, it tasted almost like a Zweigelt. It's lower in alcohol (just 12.5%), with flinty, mineral characteristics and dark fruits. This is also a new release to the wine club and will be generally available on the web site in April 2021. $35 (47 cases produced).
I love working with (and drinking!) pinot noir because it can be such an expressive grape. At its best it has so many different layers of flavors. I like it when it's not overly showy. I'm not sure who described it this way (maybe Aron?) but I like it: "wines that reveal themselves over time". It doesn't smack you in the face with a big dollop of jammy fruit, or whack you over the head with a 2*4 of oak. It gently allows you to enjoy the floral perfumes, the hint of sandalwood and the suggestion of the freshly dug earth. I love wine that I find myself thinking about the day after I drank them and I find that more with pinot noir than most other varietals. Whatever your reason for drinking pinot noir, I hope you enjoy these. Regardless of clone, terroir or whatever, the only really important thing is - do you like it?
If you're interested in finding out more about pinot noir clones and about how we make decisions in the winery, please join us for our blending workshop on May 15th. We're offering it live at the winery, or online. If you plan to join us online, please sign up by May 1st so we can get the wine to you in time.
Food is important during harvest. When you're working 12+ hours a day, seven days a week for several weeks, good food is something that helps you keep going physically and it's something to look forward to during the work day. However, sometimes it's hard to know exactly when you'll be able to break to eat, so I prepared our crew meals in my crockpot. This recipe was one of my favorite harvest meals (and the crew seemed to like it too). The preparation is quick and it's super healthy. Recipe courtesy of the Paleo Slow Cooker.
salt & pepper just before serving
Mix cinnamon, cumin & turmeric in a bowl and toss the chicken to coat. In a heavy bottom-ed pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of ghee and saute the onion and garlic until onion is transulcent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Melt the remaining ghee in the padd and add the chicken. Brown on both sides in batches for about 5 minutes a batch. Transfer the chicken and remaining ghee to the slow cooker. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl (I just throw them in to the slow cooker), then transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours (or until the crew is ready to eat it :) Salt and pepper to taste, then serve. (I add the salt and pepper with the other ingredients as I know I'll forget to do it when it's time to eat and I'm trying to manage incoming grapes. I think about a half tsp of freshly ground black pepper and a tsp of good salt is about right for my taste.)
I love Julia’s boeuf bourgignon recipe but these days, as a single parent with two teenagers in the house, it just isn’t realistic for me to follow it to the letter. This recipe keeps the essence of it but is a lot quicker to put together. This pairs wonderfully with the newly released 2018 Willful Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet-Merlot.
Saute the onion in the olive oil over a low heat until it softens and starts to turn a golden color. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for another minute or two stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook for another 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to medium and add the beef and cook for 6-8 minutes. Stir it as occasionally to stop it from sticking to the pan and cook until the meat is browned on all sides. Sprinkly the flour over the meat, stir thoroughly and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the tomato paste, bay leaves, red wine and beef stock and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook at 350F for three to three and a half hours. This is a great Sunday dish as you can throw it together and then go on a hike or something and when you come back you have a lovely dinner ready.
Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley to garnish and serve with mashed potatoes.
Pair with 2018 Willful Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet-Merlot.
My boys are off of school for the next "who-knows-how-long" and we're self-isolating for the next week. Today we cooked Chicken and Dumplings. We made an extra large batch and canned some of it for our friends and relatives who are older and have compromised immune systems. It's super easy to make and goes great with the 2018 Jezebel pinot noir, which is really affordable, just $18/bottle or $14.40 if you join the wine club. Any new wine club members get free shipping for their first shipment too! Here's the recipe. It will feed 6-8 people.