Wine of the Week: 2011 Elk Cove Vineyards, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

“Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to Monday and another wine of the week. In today's spotlight is the 2011 Elk Cove Vineyards, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. A wine I encountered during #winechat a couple weeks ago, sent as a sample for the review process. Have you heard it said, "clones matter" a phrase coined and or attributed by/to the folks at Willakenzie? There is truth in those words because clones do matter and also a host of other activities, many unknown and unseen by the average wine consumer.

This Elk Cove Pinot is planted to Pommard and Dijon clones. It's also said gravity is a bitch, but through the gentle handling of their gravity flow system, they keep gravity in check and the wines seem to reflect it.

For many winemakers, there was a huge collective sigh of relief when the harvest that 2011 was over. Unfortunately for vino-sapiens, that mean wines of restraint were going to be far more common, than normal. The picking season was pushed back much further, than most expected, making for one of latest harvest in Oregon winemaking history.

It meant that there was not going to be the same level of ripeness that many vintners experienced in 2009. That said, despite the cooler vintage some of the best producers, Elk Cove included, were still able to produce wines of amazing complexity, delicacy, and substance.

The silver lining, despite the lack of overall sunshine in 2011, according to the folks at Elk Grove, "the good news is that birds were not quite as hungry in 2011 as they were in 2010" thus allowing for a near 'normal' harvest [weight wise].

For those bargain hunters in the audience, this wine is one great one to grab. A great example of a relatively inexpensive Pinot Noir, which over delivers for its price point. I've seen this wine selling some place as low as $19 and as high as $26. No matter how you slice it, dollars to donuts this one of the very best bottles of 2011 Oregon Pinot you'll find in this price point.

My score on this wine is 90 points, making it a no-brainer. A splash in the glass brings up a nice plume of, raspberry jam spread across warm toast, black tea bags and a bit of barn yard. The palate has a smooth and dreamy texture, the round mouth-feel begs for a second sip, but is light with bright cranberries, toasted strawberry, dark cherries delight and deftly balanced. In the mix, medium to light tannins and a tame streak of acidity helps hold it altogether. Soon as you pop the cork, this wine comes dressed to impress, no fuss and no muss. Until next time folks remember life is short, so sip long and prosper cheers!


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