With all of the 2012 wines settled comfortably in barrel for a number of weeks now, it was time for Kelley Fox and I to taste through the cellar and get out first post-harvest look at what these babies are all about. The ideal growing conditions throughout the season gave us perfectly ripe and healthy fruit to work with, and as we’ve mentioned here previously, the potential for outstanding quality was clearly there from the beginning.
I am delighted to report that post-fermentation, the wines are more than living up to their potential. Superb balance is the keyword of the vintage for me at this point – delicious fruit richness, with acidity and tannins working together in harmony to pull together a seamless package. The tannins are very silky and already nicely integrated. The alcohol levels average around 13.4%, and there is a juiciness to the wines that reminds me of the young 2005s in Burgundy, or the Oregon 2002s at this same stage.
Malolactic fermentation has yet to start, so we still have changes ahead over the next few months. Normally by sometime in February or March malo will be through, and then we can take our next serious assessment. I’m not expecting a severe change in the wines post-malo this year, as the malic acid levels are relatively low this time around, so changes will not be as dramatic as in 2010 or 2011.
Looking at the individual lots, I especially liked Block 10 from Maresh – already rich and creamy textured, but with enough balancing acidity to give it a nice edge. Maresh Block 12, higher up the hill, showed a little more structure and concentration, with some nice blackberry notes as well. The old-vine Wadesnwill clone in Block 1 was just packed with deep, dense fruit and gorgeous aromatics, while Block 2, which sits directly behind it, is at this stage much more precise, pretty, and elegant. There is but one barrel of Block 7, which is an outlier to the rest, with a more pronounced grip on the finish.
Our acreage at Nysa vineyard produced the spiciest lot to this point, with nice crisp acid matched up against the trademark red berry fruit of the Dundee Hills. It is clearly going to be a beauty, and probably one worth bottling separately again this year.
Azana, our new estate vineyard on Chehalem Mountain was in its 5th-leaf in 2012, and is is often the case with young vines, produced a delicious wine from its first full crop (which was a scant 1-ton to the acre this year.) It shows distinct minerality, and a nice balance of red and black fruit flavors at this point. This could be another candidate for a single-vineyard bottling – we’ll see where it goes.
Over at Ribbon Ridge Vineyard, we’ve got what may be the best wine from this site we’ve produced yet. It seems very deep and long, and just plain yummy. Our 2008 D122 bottling came from here, and once again we may have the potential for something that could stand on its own…
On another subject entirely – we have a ridiculously excellent line-up of tasting events scheduled through the end of the year, so please check out the listings and plan to join us. I don’t know what I’m more psyched up for – Grower Champagne & Grand Cru Burgundy on December 21st, the top-of-the-line White Burgundy tasting on Dec. 8th, or maybe the all-Scott Paul flight on Dec. 14th, including a rare tasting of my 2009 Meursault (only 300 bottles produced.) We look forward to seeing you, every Friday night in Portland, and every Saturday in Carlton…