The second-warmest vintage on record delivered opulence if you could tame the dragon.
Ripe in 2006 was a given. Holding the reins on over-ripe was the challenge – one that became increasingly critical as the grapes all ripened and came in at once. Growers with appropriate capacity, yields and early picking decisions plumbed lithe concentration and depth. Formulaic winemaking too often resulted in its transverse: big, boozy, simple, sometimes Syrah-esque Pinot’s. Yum?
2006 Glass Willamette Valley White Pinot Noir
At a glance it’s a golden peach that throws the light. It’s a tri-part nose of earth, mineral and fruit aromas: spiced peach, wet rocks, citrus, yeast, jasmine, kiwi, musk melon and an ever-so-slightly-burnt crust of bread. First impression is bright and vibrant, lemon, lemon drop, lemon zest… but you are not yet dismissed. Into the fray is thrown an immensely weighty mouthfeel, a bit of savory and pure-form tangerine — yes, tangerine — on stunning acidity. All you never expected to find is here. It’s long, lively, weighty and persistent, finishing with a refreshing spritz. Easy comparisons you’ll also not find, even among your high-end whites. 280 cases. $20. Sold out.
2006 Provocateur Pinot Noir
Provocateur is French for troublemaker, though the leaning here is decidedly more Pied Piper than antagonist. The color is dense red and blue velvet drawing you toward smells of black currant, raspberry and smoked game. Big, but balanced, it’s an explosion of dark cherry and licorice pushing outward as it fills your mouth to capacity. Good acidity and a grill-coating quality to the tannin allow it to linger. Drink now to five years and think about getting it some air in the first three. 575 cases. Sold out.
Old school Europe meets the county fair. Smell the earth. Scarf the kettle corn. Follow it with caramelized apple and honey and pistachio on brown butter cake. Feel the weight, then finish with a twist of citrus and let it peel out on the lemon. Whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented in an old world oxidative style. By utilizing a long, slow, low-temperature, wild-yeast, barrel fermentation regimen we are able to promote vineyard characters and preserve fleeting fruit esters. Like age-worthy Chardonnay from Burgundy, it will want a few years under its belt, but meantime, you’ll enjoy the wine more by getting it some air. With decanting the intent is to tie an oxygen molecule to the structure, making it act as if it had been aged another year, to help flesh it out on the table. 90 cases.
2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
The wine is big, reflective of 2006. It is supple and age-able and elegant, but above all, recognizable as classic Pinot noir, from our winery, from our vineyards. We walked the knife-edge and hit our marks. A ripe, flowing, unified red exhibiting cherry, peach cobbler, kirchwasser, grilled meat and licorice. Moving and massive with a nice edge, it’s faithful to the variety without holes or bumps. It’s not Syrah-esque. It’s not what could be termed “Merlot noir”. It’s Pinot noir…and the wee ones had better go home. We expect it to climb in complexity through a minimum of five years and likely double that before the curtains start to close. 975 cases.
2006 Anderson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir
Dark cherry ester and smoke first deliver full throttle game and earth to your nose before exploding your palate in a highly structural torrent of red fruit, spice, and caramel. As usual, my block from Anderson Family once again rises to the pinnacle of structure out of the cellar. The venerable college professor that I often envision when tasting this wine has come back from sabbatical with hulking shoulders and six-pack abs. What the hell happened to academia? Damn, now I understand, in no uncertain terms, why there are co-eds and no empty chairs at the front of the class? Well cellared, anticipate additional complexity during its first 10 years with a potential 12- to 20-year drinking horizon. 124 cases.
2006 Antoinette Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Deep garnet in color, the wine is an overflowing cart of ripe cherry and fresh raspberry. This Pinot snaps the green vine overtones that tether it and spills complex cherry and savory caramel hell-bent across your palate. Antoinette Carriere was my maternal grandmother. As a personality she was solid and light at the same time. Small-lot wild yeast fermentations, 100% barrel aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (two new, two twice-filled, two neutral). Bottled, unfined and unfiltered in March of 2008. Absolutely decant to get it air within its first three years. Well cellared, anticipate additional complexity during its first 10 years with a potential 12- to 20-year drinking horizon. 148 Cases. Sold Out.
2006 Shea Pinot Noir
A dark and brooding red. A huge balloon of red/black fruit, and blueberry deliver the triumvirate of luscious, available and opulent to your seemingly just kissed lips. Once again Shea Vineyard is the booming bass note out of the cellar. That’s after we made the earliest picking decision ever on that block. Why? Because in a year like 2006 a warm and low-elevation vineyard like Shea could really deliver over-ripe and boozy wines. Frankly, that’s not what we’re after. So, we risked it. We moved it in the direction of absolute elegance and, like a salmon returning to its stream, it still delivered big, albeit on one svelte and shapely body. Well cellared, anticipate additional complexity during its first 10 years with a potential 12- to 20-year drinking horizon. 146 cases.
2006 Gemini Vineyards Pinot Noir
Dark fruit, iron and cherry on the nose. The palate is fresh, built on a frame of ripe red cherry, linear acid and mouth-filling tannin. Well balanced, it finishes on a long and dark tail-out of graham. My friend Dale Hatfield is a meticulous farmer and the all-American kind of guy you’d expect to see on the front of a box of corn flakes. His wife Marcella and their passel of kids work hard to make Gemini Vineyards not just a farm, but a home. We’ve been working with this vibrant block of fruit since 2002. Like the Hatfield kids, it’s a good citizen and it likes to play well with others. We didn’t want to overlook or change that nature, just coax it out into the open and see how it would stand for itself. It took the intervening years and a combined effort of Dale’s tinkering in the vineyard and my time in the cellar to best understand and hone the “punchy red” truth of this vineyard on a consistent basis. Do we think it’s all that? Yeah, we do, and we hope you do too. Well cellared you should anticipate additional complexity during its first 10 years with a potential 12- to 20-year drinking horizon. 64 cases.