2011 Soléna Estate Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee Willamette Valley
 
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Soléna Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 2008 -- Revisited

Since the Wine Spectator's "near perfect" 97-point 2008 vintage, Oregon's growers were dealt difficult hands. While the finest winegrowers in Willamette Valley (Beaux Frères, Penner-Ash, Bergstrom, Ken Wright and Laurent Montalieu) put out stunning 2009s and 2010s, none denied the challenges.

Lounging poolside at Laurent and Daniel Montalieu's place above Soléna Estate, the French émigré told us that the superb -- albeit hair-raising -- 2011 campaign was much like 2008. Those who bit the bullet on yields, taking to the vines early and often, made stunning Vosne-like Pinot Noirs. The less rigorous -- just as was the case in 2008 -- came up short.

April and May were cold and rainy. Set didn't occur until the first week of July, the latest in Oregon history. "Pinot Noir needs 100 to 110 days of hang time following the set," Laurent said as he poured glasses of the brilliant, ruby red 2011 Grande Cuvee into Zalto Universal stems. "So, the earliest we could hope to harvest was around October 15th. That wasn't a comforting thought. All the headaches occur at the end of the growing season. If the cold rain started early, we'd be making a lot of Rosé."

By the end of September, even after giving the vines three "haircuts", sugar readings were just beginning to creep up. Montalieu hoped only that the weather would hold out for another 15 days. In such case, the harvest would be "raisonnable," if not excellent.

But Nature had something far more extraordinary in mind.

From October 1st until the last Pinot Noir cluster was picked in the first week of November (!), barely a drop of rain fell. Those early Fall days were filled with brilliant sunshine. Daily highs flirted with 80 degrees. The nights were chilly and crisp. When the Soléna team finally took to the vines in the last week of October -- shirts off and kerchiefs tied around foreheads -- the small berry clusters had reached magical phenolic maturity. Much like 2008, the fruit was sweet and succulent -- pH was low, acids piercing.

This is a brilliant Soléna Estate Grande Cuvee, the finest since the superb 2008. Brilliant ruby to the rim, with beautifully focused, high-pitched aromas of red raspberry and black cherry, laced with sweet herbs. Rich and juicy on the attack, yet wonderfully restrained and back on its heels, slowly peeling away fine layers of crushed red fruit preserves. The finish is textbook Burgundy -- firm, lively and persistent.

$28 on release. Just $18.99 today for the top bargain of the stunning 2011 vintage in Oregon -- for as long as 900 bottles last. Not to be missed by Burgundy bargain hunters and coastal Pinot Noir sophisticates.


Tasting Notes

2011 Soléna Estate Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee Willamette Valley
"Brilliant ruby to the rim, with beautifully focused, high-pitched aromas of red raspberry and black cherry, laced with sweet herbs. Rich and juicy on the attack, yet wonderfully restrained and back on its heels, slowly peeling away fine layers of crushed red fruit preserves. The finish is textbook Burgundy -- firm, lively and persistent. Drink now for the primary fruit vibrancy or lay down for 4-6 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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