2008 Pinot noir | Willamette Valley
In the Vineyard
2008 was unlike any other experienced in 20 years of Raptor Ridge winemaking. After living through 2007, as a cool 2008 spring delayed bud break by at least three weeks, there was considerable angst among Willamette Valley winegrowers who were sure they would be harvesting again in the October rains. Although we got a rocky start, the weather was a gift from God in the end. The ‘belly’ of the summer delivered ample heat units to almost ripen the vintage by early October. Still, we worried about potential mid-October rains. Miraculously, late October brought gentle daytime temperatures in the high 70s and cold nighttime temps in the 30s. Our fruit ripened slowly, but fully and deeply, without developing super high sugars (that would convert to high alcohols). In short – perfect finishing conditions all the way through October 29 - our last vineyard pick.
At the Winery
Three vineyard sources comprise over two-thirds of this 100% Pinot noir bottling. Around October 20 Yamhill Springs (YSV) was harvested at 23.4 brix glucose/fructose, 3.42 pH and 5.6 TA; and Hawks View Vineyard (HVV) was harvested at 24.0 brix glucose/fructose, 3.61 pH and 5.6 TA. Ten days later, on October 29, we brought in Stony Mountain Vineyard – our latest harvest in 20 years of making Pinot noir in Oregon! SMV was harvested at 25.8 brix, 3.2 pH and 6.7 TA. Meredith Mitchell, Gran Moraine, Bellevue Cross, and Harbinger Vineyards contributed to the balance of the cuvee.
Grapes were delivered to the winery and hand sorted and inspected for ripeness and quality. Because of cold overnight temperatures, cold soak was not an issue. After 5 days of tank soak, we heated each fermenter to 70°F keeping vineyards separate, and inoculated with strains of commercial yeast matched to the expression of vineyard site. We selectively used BM45, BRL97, 71B, and RC212 yeasts. Fermentations lasted about two weeks with peak temperatures of 96°F about one week after inoculation. Total skin contact was about 17 days including cold soak. Wines were aged for 11 months in a range of 46% new French Oak cooperage from Remond, Cadus, Hermitage, Francois Frere, and Billion. The blend was then racked into settling tank for final SO2 adjustments then cross-flow sterile filtered. We bottled under screw-cap closures with Seranex® lining to simulate levels of micro-oxygenation similar to fine cork.
At the Table
Dark garnet color and brilliantly clear. Aromas of crushed dark cherries mingled with truffles, cedar, sage and bramble waft from the glass. This wine is brooding and meaty. The palate opens with a richness and lush concentration of black cherry and plum meat, then narrows into a channel of ripe tannins, with subtle hints of bakers chocolate. Modest acidity supports the wine in a wide outpouring of lingering red cherries, strawberries, and a touch of stone fruit. Lovely complexity. Drink now though 2013.