2011 The Stalker Pinot Noir
Winemaker's Vintage Notes
In 26 years of farming in the Willamette Valley, we’d never experienced two back-to-back vintages with flowering in the vineyards as late as July, until 2011. Never say never because Mother Nature is full of surprises. In 2011, the cool weather demanded that we keep the crops low and hope for a long Indian summer. By mid-October we did have a 10-day window of semi-dry weather with temperatures in the mid-70s. We were high-fiving ourselves when the grapes came in at 20.5 Brix.
This year we learned that late-season ripening of a small crop can lead to great results AND that vineyard sites matter more than the amount of sugar in the grapes. Sure enough, the wines turned out far above what the ‘numbers’ would indicate. This 2011 Pinot noir is proof of the sophistication possible in a true, cool-climate wine grape region.
Late-harvested Pinot noir develops more intense, leap-out-of-the-glass aromatics than wines from earlier harvested vintages. Additionally, late-harvested Pinot noir is the only red variety that builds power while remaining graceful with age...
Just like the best of us! Here’s to 2011!
The 2011 ROCO wines are beautiful, perfumed and have surprising depth, complexity and finish to them.
There are a few ways that winemakers use grape stalks to flavor their wines… and then there’s my way.
While I’ve never been a fan of whole cluster fermentation for my wines, I am influenced by the way the Valpolicello region of Italy air-dry whole clusters. I also agree with the late winemaker, Aaron Hess’ distaste for fresh stalks. And, I have an abiding love of whole berry fermentation.
With these preferences in mind, I took a bit of a “walk on the wild side” to produce a unique Stalker Pinot noir. One of the tricks is to keep air flowing around the stalks and ensure that mold is held at bay. I also continued my commitment to whole-berry fermentation. The rest of the process will remain a mystery.
I can tell you that it takes a heck of a lot of manual work, but results in a wine with spice-laced tannin from the stalks, without the “greenness” of the fresh stalks. The unexpected surprise is an increased sense of middle palate juiciness.
After fermentation, the pressing and barreling remains the same as for our other Pinot Noirs.
The wine is aged in a mix of new to three-year-old French oak barrels for at least 18 months.
Winemaker's Tasting Notes
"Garnet hued, there’s a deep, woodsy nose to this wine with a breath of late summer raspberries to the aroma. The delicious tannin aromatics and flavors contribute a juicy sweetness to the black cap raspberry fruit in the mouth. There is a sense of power developing in the bottle and glass.
This new wine is intriguingly delicious." -Rollin Soles, Winemaker
91 Robert Parker
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