WillaKenzie Estate Pierre Leon Pinot Noir 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
WillaKenzie Estate is located in Oregon's Willamette Valley on rolling hillsides in the Chehalem Mountains. The winery was named after the Willakenzie soil on which the vineyards are planted to convey the influence that the soil imparts on the wine's flavors and aromas. The vineyards are planted with grapes of the Pinot family, mostly new Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from Alsace. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are cool climate grapes, which are particularly well adapted to Oregon. As winemaker for WillaKenzie Estate, the acclaimed producer of single-vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, Erik Kramer leads all winemaking and cellar
operations. He has been working in Oregon’s Willamette Valley since 2004, where he has built a reputation for world-class wines of finesse and balance. A scientist by training, Erik worked as a hydrogeologist in the petrochemical industry before combining his passion for science and appreciation for fine wine into a career. He spent a few seasons in Washington as a harvest cellar worker before
pursuing a postgraduate diploma in viticulture & oenology at Lincoln University in New Zealand, where he graduated with honors. Kramer went on to craft wine in New Zealand before to moving to the Willamette Valley. Prior to joining WillaKenzie Estate, Erik crafted highly-regarded wines for Domaine Serene and Adelsheim Vineyard. He also holds a degree in geology from Florida State University, which he draws on today when considering the relationship between terroir and wine quality. When not at the winery, Erik enjoys spending time with his family at his wine country home in McMinnville
Yamhill-Carlton, characterized by pastoral, rolling hills composed of shallow, quick-draining, ancient marine soil, is ideal for Pinot noir and other cool-climate-loving varieties. It is in the rain shadow of the Coast Range to its west, whose highest point climbs to an altitude of 3,500 feet. Yamhill-Carlton is actually surrounded by mountains on three sides: Chehalem Mountains to the north, the Dundee Hills to the east and the western Coast Range to its west, which, when it lets Pacific air through, serves to cool the region.
Vineyards grow on the ridges surrounding the two small communities of Yamhill and Carlton and cover about 1,200 acres of this 60,000 acre region, which roughly makes a horse-shoe shape on a map.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”