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Elk Cove Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2006
-Wines & Spirits
"...silky texture, toasty oak, ...good structure and balance; long finish. A rich, silky Pinot that's easy on the wallet too!" 93 Points-Pinot Report
All of Elk Cove's delicate Pinot Noir fruit undergoes the same meticulous vineyard management and gentle handling through our gravity flow system, thus achieving the elegance, texture and luscious quality that are the hallmarks of exquisite Pinot Noirs. From the early pioneering days to now, our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has remained the foundation of Elk Cove Vineyards. This Pinot Noir is blended from several select vineyard sites comprised of Pommard and Dijon plant material and shows the softest, most approachable drinking style Elk Cove makes.
Vintage 2006 certainly has everyone offering up grand descriptions! "Everything ripened beautifully." "This is a rarity." "A warm, fully ripe vintage." Fruit set was ideal with a mild Spring. Months that followed were warm and dry, with short-lived heat spikes and a few intermittent cooling rains in the fall, advancing fruit ripeness. Feelings abound in the valley that the 2006 vintage seems to be a combination of the 1999's depth and the ripeness of 2003 (the only vintage warmer than 2006), but with better flavors and natural balance. The Pinot Noirs specifically seem to be very true to form with velvety tannins and a sexiness evocative of Pinot's feminine side. Put this with softer, darker blue fruits that are more generous and it's the makings of exceptional wines! In general, this vintage had us searching for negatives, finding only the six days of over 86 degrees in early harvest to fret over. But the results seem to be close to perfect!
Elk Cove Vineyards is one of Oregon's oldest and most respected wine producers. Founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell, their focus has always been to produce handcrafted, estate-grown wines that can rival the best in the world. Estate vineyards now cover over 250 acres on five separate sites in the Northern Willamette Valley. Steep south-facing slopes of Willakenzie, Laurelwood and now Jory soil types provide excellent drainage, which are the perfect environment to grow world-class wine grapes. Winemaker Adam Godlee Campbell joined forces with his parents in 1995 and now directs the production of outstanding Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Blanc.
The name "Elk Cove" was derived from the Roosevelt Elk, which roamed nearby, and migrated into the valley each spring.
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. The silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.
The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.