2012 Trousse-Chemise Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
 
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Anne Sery Martindale & a Vineyard in Willamette  Valley Brightest Young Star in Oregon's Willamette Valley

It doesn't happen often — maybe a couple times each decade. But when the Willamette Valley enjoys a "perfect" growing season, its Pinot Noirs are the closest America ever gets to Chambolle-Musigny. 1999 was one of those years, as was 2008. But even those historic vintages can't match the class of 2012 when it comes to marrying Russian River opulence with bracing Côte de Nuits verve.

There are two reasons why Oregon's wine country draws comparisons to Burgundy. First, like the Côte de Nuits, weather patterns in Willamette Valley are capricious. Winters tend to be chilly and wet, providing deep water tables, allowing deep-rooted vines to shrug off frequent summer droughts.

Second, Oregon's wineries tend to be small operations, turning out just a few thousand cases per year. True to Burgundian form, winegrowers like nothing more than to tinker in the cellar and the vines, crafting artisanal Pinot Noirs, each carrying the signature of its maker. Over the last decade, Lynn Penner-Ash, Ken Wright, Tony Soter and Josh Bergström have all drawn comparisons with Burgundy's best. Now, with the release of the astounding 2012s, a young française, Anne Sery Martindale, seems poised to take a run at the Willamette Valley elite.

Anne was born in the islands. Her father was a French diplomat with exquisite taste in Burgundy. On weekends, the family dinner table featured bottles from the likes of Roumier, Méo-Camuzet, Morlet and Barthod. While still in her teens, Anne stunned guests with her blind-tasting precision, often identifying vintages by color and smell before taking a first sip.

After earning her enology degree from the Faculté de Bordeaux under professor Denis Dubourdieu, in 2008 the adventurous young winemaker accepted a cellar position in Oregon with another French émigré, Laurent Montalieu. Four years later, in the 2012 vintage, Anne decided to hang out her own shingle. Her timing couldn't have been better for launching Trousse-Chemise.

After two of the coldest growing seasons on record in 2010 and 2011, 2012 offered dry, warm weather from late spring through September. The top vineyards in the valley like Hyland, Zena Crown and Gran Moraine, from where Sery Martindale draws her grapes — brought Pinot Noir to Russian River-like maturity. But unlike 2003, 2006 and 2009 — also hot, dry years — acids held tight in 2012, bracing the phenomenal red-fruit opulence of the vintage with sturdy backbone.

The 2012 Trousse-Chemise Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is brilliant ruby to the edge, infused with luscious aromas of red raspberry and wild cherry preserves, sweet herbs, gently touched with new-wood vanilla. Rich, plush and juicy on the attack, filled with the ultra-ripe Russian River red fruits, the finish — like all the top wines of 2012 — remains firm and bracing. Drink now for its youthful bombast, or lay down for 4-6 years in a cool cellar.



Tasting Notes

2012 Trousse-Chemise Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
"Brilliant ruby to the edge, infused with luscious aromas of red raspberry and wild cherry preserves, sweet herbs, gently touched with new-wood vanilla. Rich, plush and juicy on the attack, filled with the ultra-ripe Russian River red fruits, the finish — like all the top wines of 2012 — remains firm and bracing. Drink now for its youthful bombast, or lay down for 4-6 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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