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Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Russian River Pinot Noir 2008
The 2008 growing season started cool and dry, carrying over the drought effects from 2007. The dry weather continued into April when a number of frosts followed by a warm, breezy bloom period combined to create a small and intense crop of berries. Summer weather was mild and temperatures rarely exceeded 90°F. Fog was notably absent for most of the summer. August brought perfect warm weather which pushed ripeness along giving us ideal flavor development and a very early harvest. Lower crop levels, greater light intensity due to smaller berry size and reduced fog combined to create an exceptional vintage of Russian River Valley fruit.
The fruit was harvested during the cool early mornings and then rigorously sorted and destemmed. Whole clusters were added to open-top fermenters. The must underwent a seven-day cold soak to gently extract the grapes' delicate flavors and color. Each clone from each vineyard was fermented separately to allow the greatest expression of each site. The cap was punched down every six hours to further extract color and aroma at the height of fermentation. After 14-21 days on skins, the free run juice was drained and the wine was gently pressed off the skins. The wine was aged for 13 months sur lies in 100% French Burgundy barrels, 50% new.
Here the nose combines both red and blue pinot fruit as well as hints of raspberry and cherry liqueur notes that give way to delicious, cool and solidly well-detailed medium-bodied flavors that possess ample flesh and mid-palate fat, all wrapped in a lingering, balanced and sappy finish. Lovely save for the barest trace of back-end warmth that to be fair is almost invisible and would be an issue only if you are very sensitive to it. 90/2014+
The Duncan Family’s spirit of innovation would lead them to discover new varietals when in 2000, they secured the nine-acre West Pin vineyard in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, legendary for its extraordinary Pinot Noirs. Several years later, they acquired a winery in Healdsburg where the Pinot Noirs are now produced. Twomey is dedicated to producing Pinot Noir that achieves the greatest balance & expression from four top California appellations, including Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and Santa Maria Valley. Twomey’s newest offering is Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp, refreshing wine that originates at the family’s estate vineyard in Calistoga. Today, Twomey Cellars is run by Managing Partners and brothers David and Tim Duncan. Founding winemaker Daniel Baron and Winemaker Ben Cane carry out their vision of making wines that eloquently express their vineyard and vintage.
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 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 difference 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 holds 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; and 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.