Wine of the Week: 2011 Elk Cove, Mount Richmond Pinot Noir

“He who knows how to taste, does not drink wine, but savors it secrets” ~ Salvador Dali.

Here we're once more, the coveted Wine of the Week, from a producer who needs little introduction, as they're an icon on the Oregon wine scene. If you do plan a visit, the Google directions can be a bit wonky, you may end up on a dead-end road in the middle of nowhere. There were more a few secrets which needed to slowly be unfolded from what turned out to be quite the tasty Pinot Noir I had hoped it would be. It did take two bottles though to discover it, as Capt. Obvious was nowhere in sight the first time I uncorked this wine. Some wines while excellent [or at least very good] like the one pictured above take time to understand the distinctive character they possess if we are patient enough to wait for them to evolve.

After uncorking this wine and pouring myself a glass into an expressive Riedel Pinot Noir stem, the wine seemed very 'closed' and quite standoffish to the point, that I knew I'd have to open something else until this wine was ready to go. May I also say, the shape and quality of the vessel wine are poured into and imbibed from makes all the difference in the experience. I grabbed my handy-dandy Riedel decanter in hopes that a bit more air would/could coax this wine out of a coma. I knew there was still a pulse, but it was slow and shallow. As I leaned into close to the wine being decanted, I thought I could hear it faintly saying, "Decant me for two hours or more first, then enjoy all my rustic charms long into the night!!". It was this wines rustic charms, which convinced me to feature it as the Wine of the Week [a highly coveted title]. Yes indeed, a classic example of what can often be expected from the 2011 vintage.

“The 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot is a perfect example of wine that has tons of fruit, but still has great characters other than fruit. That’s when you know you’ve had low yields and hillside farming on great vineyard sites” – Winemaker Adam Campbell

I know it was seven years ago, but if you will recall vintage 2011 was the year the entire West Coast had no real summer. The majority [blanket statement: meaning most, but not all.] of the growing season was bathed in only cloud-covered sunlight, and as we all know, sunlight plays a significant parting in the ripening process. Thus an outlier year, great for the wine bearing grape to express something called vintage variation. Vintage variation, not something you'll experience with formulaic commodity wines.

"Mount Richmond Vineyard sits on Willakenzie soils in the heart of the Yamhill Carlton AVA. Mount Richmond sits at 300-500 feet elevation, lower than the vineyards planted at the winery, which allows for earlier ripening." ~ Elk Cove

After a couple hours of decanting; the nose became much more expressive and very pretty. I'd even say it a vibrant note of elegance evolved, possibly hinting at the lovely complexity waiting to surprise me. On the palate, notes of cranberry and other dark berries, spice, black-tea and briar nuances add some tantalizing breadth. I found the wine light, with raspberry fruit hitting a sweet drum solo mid-palate, while veins of stem and earth play bass in the background. It’s nicely balanced, a bit rustic, but true to the variety. The finish was a bit short and sweet, but the gentle tannins, and the lingering floral influences and [baking] spice notes bring it all home. Once I had this wine paired with brilliant mushroom risotto and baked chicken drizzled with a light plum sauce, I thought the wine soared to its highest point of the evening, quite good.

Winemaker, Adam Campbell, comments,“ the late and cool vintage really highlights why we choose to grow grapes on the viticultural edge. Extremely long hang time gave us wines with concentrated ripe fruit flavors, beautiful freshness, and lower alcohol. These wines are why we love Oregon!”
I did receive this wine as a sample a few years ago, and this is the second bottle I'm enjoying. But I'd have to say, to be quite honest that after having bottle aged it in my cellar, another couple years, it's showing so much better than my previous experience. Until you become a collector of wines, with the collection having a decade of cellar dust on the bottles, it's hard to appreciate the difference bottle age can make. This vintage is unfortunately sold out; it was available through their website, selling for $43. The release of their 2015 is currently available offered at $60. If I had to speculate about the possible quality of the now released 2012, it would be "wow" followed by you'd better hurry to place your order before they all disappear. I say that because I stopped by their tasting room, not long ago to give it a swirl.

For those of you interested in scorekeeping, I scored this wine 90 points. A bottle which is well worth the price admission and wine worth seeking out if you could get your hands on it. Especially so, if you're a fan of "rustic charms." Until next time folks remember life is too short to drink bad wine, so choose wisely, drink only what you like, then sip long and prosper cheers!


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