|Credit: Zena Crown Vineyard|
This week, let’s dive into some serious Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: Zena Crown Vineyard.
These Pinots are sourced from a southwest-facing slope, a volcanic soil site that has been bottled as a vineyard-designated wine from heralded producers like Beaux Freres and Penner-Ash. This Zena Crown Vineyard outfit formed in 2013, a cooperative project between winemakers Shane Moore and Tony Rynders. Seventeen different blocks of Pinot Noir (planted to many different clones) comprise the Zena Crown Vineyard, and these wines show off Shane and Tony’s blending prowess, as each wine is a combination of various clones and plots.
This is precise, vibrant, delicious Oregon Pinot Noir – full of racy acidity, lip-smacking mineral presence, tart but delicious red fruits, and loads of complex earthy, spicy notes. Each has its own personality, but they share serious structure, alcohol levels in the high 12% range, and invigorating acidity. These are Pinots share with wine nerd friends and engage in pleasant debate about whether that note on the finish is rooibos tea, eucalyptus, sage, white pepper — and everyone would be right. These wines pack that real sense of intrigue and mystique, but it’s by no means a purely intellectual exercise. They’re damned delicious.
These Pinots are stunning right out of the bottle, but time and air do wonders, as will serious cellar time. If I were buying in, I’d cellar a bottle apiece for at least four or five years, because there’s so much complexity to unwrap.
The wines all spend about 17 months in French oak, most of which (75-90%) are new, but that new oak is woven in wonderfully, softening the tannins a bit and imparting some flavors but by no means overtaking the fruit and non-fruit flavors. They’re stunning interpretations of Eola-Amity Hills Pinot and I imagine any Oregon Pinot enthusiast would be stoked to get their hands on some.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2013 Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir Conifer - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
Rich ruby color. Aromas of bright raspberries, red currants and McIntosh apple peels, with rose petals, pine forest, mushroom and rhubarb. Wonderful balance on the palate, with sturdy tannins, a silky medium body, crisp acidity. Flavors of raspberry and dark cherry, the fruit is gushing but tangy, with notes of forest floor, tobacco, rhubarb and rose hips. Notes of light roast coffee and cedar blend in nicely. So much complexity, but so clean and crisp. A long life ahead, this will improve for 3-7 years easily. (93 points)
2013 Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir ∑ - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
Gorgeous aromas of red apple, red currants, juicy raspberries, along with roses, tobacco, dried leaves, cola, rhubarb, white pepper — wow. Medium-bodied with dusty but structured tannins and crisp, pure acidity. Red currants, red apple and tart raspberries blend wonderfully with fallen leaves, clove, mint, rose petals and tobacco. Lots of minerals and a deep sense of earthy complexity. So much flavor but so elegant with a gorgeous, long finish. Referred to with the sign indicating “the sum,” this is sourced from multiple vineyards and clones. 40% whole cluster fermentation. (93 points)
2013 Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir Slope - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
Takes more time to open up, but I eventually get waves of black cherries, red currants, tilled earth, tobacco, roasted coffee and rhubarb, the aromas evolve drastically with air. On the palate, this shows such elegance despite a densely-packed tannic backbone, and the acidity is electric on a medium-bodied frame. The black cherry and raspberry fruit is loaded with potting soil, mushroom, black tea and bay leaf, and the coffee and cedar notes are woven in expertly. Lots of earthy/herbal complexity. This is the most concentrated and age-worthy of the wines, but at 12.7%, it’s still vibrant. I’d still like to bury it for eight years or so. An absolutely gorgeous Pinot. (93 points)