Erath Willakia Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014
Erath’s 119-acre Willakia Vineyard is located in the prestigious Eola-Amity Hills Appellation. During the growing season, the region benefits from the temperature-moderating effect of the prevailing ocean breezes that flow through Van Duzer Corridor. The vineyard is divided into small blocks with diverse clones and rootstocks based on the aspects, slopes and orientations of the vineyard’sbeautiful rolling lands. These unique characteristics serve to complete Winemaker Gary Horner’s philosophy of producing small, single vineyard wines to achieve high-quality and unique interpretations of Oregon Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. To date the vineyard is planted with 98 acres of Pinot Noir and 21 acres ofChardonnay. The vineyard is certified sustainably farmed under the LIVE and Salmon Safe programs.
As one of Oregon's wine pioneers, Erath winery's founder, Dick Erath, was driven by the belief that the future of Pinot Noir was in Oregon. Today, Erath's wines are an expression of the land that the winery has cultivated for more than 40 years, longer than any other winery in the Dundee Hill of Oregon. Winemaker, Gary Horner, who shares Dick Erath's background in science and a reverence for Oregon's unique terroir, strives to reveal classic Oregon Pinot: light, delicate and fruit-forward. Horner takes pride in making a range of Pinot Noir styles, from the hugely-popular Oregon blend to the highly-acclaimed, limited-edition, single-vineyard selections. His goal is to make the best Pinot Noir the region has to offer - it is time-honored, authentic and uniquely Oregon.
Running north to south, adjacent to the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA has shallow and well-drained soils created from ancient lava flows (called Jory), marine sediments, rocks and alluvial deposits. These soils force vine roots to dig deep, producing small grapes with great concentration.
Like in the McMinnville sub-AVA, cold Pacific air streams in via the Van Duzer Corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidity in its grapes. This great concentration, combined with marked acidity, give the Eola-Amity Hills wines—namely Pinot noir—their distinct character. While the region covers 40,000 acres, no more than 1,400 acres are covered in vine.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
Tasting Notes for Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a dry red wine, typically diominated by red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles showing black plum and more delicate styles of Pinot giving citrus qualities. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age Pinot Noir can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice and dried fruit.
Perfect Food Pairings for Pinot Noir
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of salmon or texture of tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Sommelier Secrets for Pinot Noir
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.