The Willamette Valley is known for exceptional Pinot Noir around the world. Although we are primarily a Chardonnay-focused house, 20% of our total production is Willamette Valley Pinot Noir fermented in 500L terra-cotta amphorae imported from Tuscany. Drawing inspiration from Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy of Burgundy, we hand-snip individual berries from each Pinot Noir cluster and drop them directly into our amphorae.
"Clay vessels have been used to ferment and age wine since ancient times. Neolithic Age wine vessels recently found in the Republic of Georgia were tested and confirmed to be the world’s oldest. “Almost every ancient culture, from the Canaanites to the Egyptians to the Assyrians to the Greeks and Romans, vinified in pottery vessels,” says Patrick McGovern, Ph. D., the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. His team conducted the liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry testing that confirmed the age of the Georgian vessels.
While these pots are an uncontested link to the past, they are also becoming a resource for the future of winemaking. Beyond the romanticism involved in borrowing ancient techniques, terra-cotta pots offer unique interactive properties with wine—they pull out acidity, allow oxygen exchange, and provide superior insulation, among other benefits—that are different from those of stainless steel, wood barrels, or concrete. These factors are are capturing the attention of winemakers around the world and encouraging new scholarship."
"While 00 Chardonnay tastes truly exceptional, the winery also leads a unique Pinot Noir program, sourcing fruit from Shea, Hyland and the lesser-known Stardance. The winery bases their picking decisions for both Pinot and Chardonnay on acid levels — not sugar levels (brix) — to achieve its signature flavor profile. With laborious production that includes hand snipping each Pinot berry from the cluster and whole-berry fermentation in 500-liter clay amphorae, the resulting wines are smooth with soft tannins on the back palate.
Customer Cellar Tracker Review - 2015 Single Vineyard Shea Pinot Noir
"There is absolutely no doubt this is a home run of an Oregon Pinot. One of, if not the, finest Oregon Pinot Noir I've had in years. Hate to say it, but yes, this has Burgundian balance and grace, which I rarely find in Oregon."
Customer Vivino Review - 2014 VGR Pinot Noir
"Mineral taste is soft and the fruit in the back of the palate is wonderful. Nice notes of raspberry or strawberry."
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