Zena Crown Vineyard Slope Pinot Noir 2013
At the Slope, the Zena Crown Vineyard shifts to face due south, encouraging perfect ripeness and maximum phenolic development. The Slope is a dark, brooding Pinot Noir of great density despite a modest 12.7% alcohol. Its flavor spectrum is similarly deep and concentrated, where the fragrant, easy air of spring surrenders to more complicated notes of warm leather, dried mushrooms, Maillard reactions, game, and umami.
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Since its third leaf, Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir has been subject to multiple interpretations; it became a sought-after single-vineyard designate for top producers like Beaux Freres, Soter, and Penner-Ash. With the 2013 harvest, however, Zena Crown emerged as a true Oregon domaine. As they adapt to its rhythms and natural oscillations, they seek to explore and manifest the singular voice of this special plot of land, in accordance with the remote and rugged beauty of the Eola-Amity Hills.
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.
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.”