2012 Soléna Estate Pinot Noir Grande Cuvée Willamette Valley
 
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Soléna Estate Greatest Oregon Pinot Noir Vintage in 50 Years?

Since the Wine Spectator's "near-perfect" 97-point 2008 vintage, Oregon's growers have been dealt challenging hands. But after spending 36 hours cellar-hopping from McMinnville to the Dundee Hills, the Eola-Amity Hills to the steepest slopes on Ribbon Ridge, it's clear that all the pre-release hype associated with the 2012 vintage is well deserved. In many cases, these luscious 2012s will outpoint the historic 2008s.

Bordeaux-born-and-bred enologist Laurent Montalieu, long one of Oregon's brightest Pinot Noir stars, explained why.

"It was really a storybook vintage, unlike any I've seen since I moved to Oregon from Bordeaux. Old-timers who have been farming Pinot Noir here for 50 years claim 2012 is the most extraordinary growing season of their lives. For me, it's just 30 years, but I couldn't agree more."

What most characterized the summer of 2012 in the Willamette Valley was the dryness. "We're used to wet winters and dry summers," Montalieu explained, "but this was a drought of historic proportion. The later-maturing Pinot Noir sites, like our Hyland Vineyard, really benefitted, as the clay soil retains moisture so well. But even at Hyland, where we often wait until the end of October to harvest, every cluster had been picked well before the end of September. Natural sugars were as high as any I've seen, on par with 2004 or 1998. But more remarkably, we also had fine acidity. The Burgundians would compare 2012 to 1976 or perhaps 2003 — two of the richest and most age-worthy vintages of the last 50 years!"

What should be your buying strategy for these phenomenally rich, flashy 2012 Pinot Noirs? If money is no object, buy every bottle you can find of the tiny-production, single-vineyard releases from Montalieu, Ken Wright, Josh Bergström, and Lynn Penner-Ash. All are irresistible on release, but will continue to evolve gracefully over the course of the next 10-20 years.

But if you're a bargain hunter — constantly on the lookout for luscious wild-berry, under-$20 Pinot Noir — the drop-dead bargain of the great 2012 vintage is unquestionably Laurent Montalieu's exquisite 2012 Grande Cuvée.

The 2012 Soléna Cellars Grande Cuvée is brilliant deep-ruby to the rim, infused with mouthwatering black raspberry/black cherry aromas, laced with sweet herbs and new-wood cedar. Rich, plump, and juicy on the attack, while broad, dense, and vibrant on the mid-palate, the core is packed with crushed-red-fruit preserves, finishing with bracing Côte de Beaune backbone. Drink now for its youthful hedonism or lay down for 5-7 years.



Tasting Notes

2012 Soléna Estate Pinot Noir Grande Cuvée Willamette Valley
"The 2012 Soléna Cellars Grande Cuvée is brilliant deep-ruby to the rim, infused with mouthwatering black raspberry/black cherry aromas, laced with sweet herbs and new-wood cedar. Rich, plump, and juicy on the attack, while broad, dense, and vibrant on the mid-palate, the core is packed with crushed-red-fruit preserves, finishing with bracing Côte de Beaune backbone. Drink now for its youthful hedonism or lay down for 5-7 years. This is the rare under-$20 American Pinot Noir that will still be paying handsome dividends in 2020!"
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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