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Shea West Hill Pinot Noir 2011

Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • WE91
  • WS90
  • RP90
13% ABV
  • RP91
  • WE91
  • WS93
  • WE91
  • RP90
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3.0 1 Ratings
13% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The Dijon clone 777 is blended with Pommard, and Dijon clone 115 to create this wine with lovely aromatics and a palate of dry cranberry and pie cherry. The tannins are polished and beautifully integrated, and the wine is supple and balanced. It's the most forward of Shea's 2011s.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
Sourced from a delineated section of this sloped, expansive vineyard, this Pinot has a fair amount of peppery herb, along with brambly berry flavor. It's tart, spicy and sharp, but beautifully balanced. Still quite young and tight, this one needs plenty of breathing time, or cellar it for a few more years.
WS 90
Wine Spectator
This fresh and silky red offers finely tuned tannins balancing the supple currant and pomegranate flavors on a light, enticing frame. Lingers pleasantly.
RP 90
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Representing a new but essentially self-explanatory site-designate totally 419 cases, the 2011 Pinot Noir Shea West Hill was treated to 60% new barrels, but their resinous contribution has been very well digested into a seamlessly, finely but tightly tannic, fresh cherry- and pomegranate-dominated whole. Hints of ginger add to the sense of finishing invigoration in energetic and long-lined if relatively firm Pinot. With time this should loosen up a bit and let itself and us in on a bit more fun. I suspect it will perform admirably through at least 2022.
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Shea Wine Cellars

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Shea Wine Cellars, Willamette Valley, Oregon
2011 West Hill Pinot Noir
Shea Vineyard, located in the Yamhill Foothills of Oregon's Willamette Valley, was first planted to wine grapes by Dick Shea in 1989 and 1990. Today the vineyard property consists of 200 hillside acres of which 140 are planted to wine grapes, largely Pinot Noir and a few acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The south facing vineyard sits in a viticultural region called the Willakenzie District. The soil of the vineyard is shallow and very well draining with sandstone subsoil. The vineyard has never been irrigated.

Currently the winery supplies several top Pinot Noir producers in Oregon (Archery Summit, Beaux Freres, Ken Wright, Panther Creek, and St. Innocent) and one in California (Sine Qua Non). The Wine Enthusiast in its annual review of Oregon wines in December 2000, wrote, "It is no coincidence that our two top rated wines... were made from fruit from Richard Shea's perennially superb Willamette Valley vineyard."

Willamette Valley

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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.

Pinot Noir

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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.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier Secret

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.

FBR107695_2011 Item# 123997