The Sec Wines Blog

This is the blog for Sec Wines in Portland, OR by Eric Pottmeyer. The posts are generally about wine, wine personalities and the wine market with food creeping into posts every now and then.

Monday, November 1, 2010

2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Vintage

It’s not uncommon for a few wine publications to proclaim several vintages in a single decade to be the “vintage of the century” or the “greatest vintage of all time” for a given region.  For those of us who read wine publications either recreationally or professionally, many of us tire of these annual proclamations and take them with a grain of salt.  So, for what it’s worth, 2008 is one of the greatest vintages in the short history of the Willamette Valley for Pinot Noir, certainly the best of this decade.  
After an up and down summer, the weather in September and October was ideal, allowing Pinot Noir to ripen to near perfection under beautiful harvest conditions.  Healthy grapes with good to near perfect ripeness produced wines with a beautiful balance of fruit, acidity and tannins.  Marcus Goodfellow of Matello Wines is one of the Oregon’s best winemakers.  He states that “Because so much ripening happened late and the picking windows were so wide open, winemakers had the opportunity to pick at optimum points (and for the most part without having to do all the work at once).  We had the luxury of fruit the way we like it and time to cover all the details of fermentation meticulously and to our preferences.”
What makes this vintage so great is the consistency seen in it.  In all but the most challenging vintages in the Willamette Valley, there are any number of excellent Pinot Noirs produced.  But in 2008 excellence and deliciousness are the norm.  From inexpensive “Willamette Valley” bottlings to the best single vineyard and reserve wines, 2008 has offered an abundance of outstanding Pinots in different styles.  Marcus reiterates this when he said “...I think 2008 offers a lot for the consumer to choose from as well, some forward lush wines, and some backwards but reeking of potential.”  This is evidenced when tasting through Marcus’ Matello Pinot Noir line up.  Witness Matello’s lush and open-knit Willamette Valley bottling which drinks beautifully now, to the Hommage A&D, Souris, Wineter’s Hill and Bishop Creek Pinots which have remarkable potential in the cellar.  Indeed, another attribute of  the 2008 vintage is the wide window of prime drinkability these wines as a group possess.  A greater number of wines than ever before will age gracefully for a decade or more.
Marcus  highlights another aspect of the vintage that makes 2008 special when he notes that “I think the differentiation between vineyard terroirs is heightened in my wines in 2008.  Everything about the vintage really lends itself to expressing the vineyard voice, from naturally low yields, to optimal ripening and picking conditions, to care in the winery.  Witness the difference between the Winter’s Hill, Whistling Ridge and Bishop Creek bottlings; each is VERY different this year.”
Surely, conscientious winemakers who let the fruit and vineyards speak for themselves produced Pinot Noirs with great aromatic purity, lush fruit with excellent concentration, superb balance, and silky textures.  For the Pinot Noir lover, this is a vintage to stock up on.  While there are still some 2008s from some of Oregon’s best wineries that have not been released (hurry-up Cameron, Thomas, Cristom etc.), there are an abundance of great Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs still in the market.
In no particular order, here are some of the most successful 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot still in the market at the time of this publication:
St. Innocent, Momtazi, Zenith & Freedom Hill
Patricia Green Cellars, Nefarious 
Matello, Souris, Bishop Creek & Hommage A&D
Domaine Drouhin
Bergstrom, Bergstrom Vineyard
Westrey, Abbey Ridge
Et Fills, Maresh
Evening Land Vineyards, Seven Springs Estate & La Source
J. Albin, Laurel