I have not previously had the opportunity to sample the entire lineup of these wines, and was very impressed. Founder, Jim Bernau, purchased the Estate site in 1983 and cleared the old plum orchard hidden in scotch broom and blackberry vines. Bernau planted Pinot Noir (Pommard and Wadenswil clones), Chardonnay (Dijon and Espiguette) as well as Pinot Gris. Because of the lack of water sources, he initially used a 75 foot garden hose to water the vines. Bernau took winemaking classes at UC Davis and finally started the winery full time in 1989. Willamette Valley Vineyards has grown considerably in the past 20 years, as they merged with Bill Fuller of Tualatin Vineyards (established in 1973), the O'Briens for Elton Vineyard (established in 1983) and Loeza Vineyard (planted in 2015). The winery now sources all of its Pinot Noir from its nearly 500 estate-grown vineyards.
There is a wonderful terroir with these wines. They have received considerable press in their past, primarily from their house bottling but their single vineyard bottlings were complex and lithe. In a vintage where many Oregon Pinots lacked power and finesse due to the rains at harvest, Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinots were all excellent. Their ‘Elton’ bottling was rich and Burgundian, having the wonderful combination of forest floor and rich fruit. I rated this one 93 points and one of the highest rated wines from this vintage. Here are the new releases from Willamette Valley Vineyards and check out their impressive lineup of Pinots at http://wvv.com #wvv #willamettevalleyvineyards
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Tualitin Estate Pinot Noir- This wine is sourced from Dijon clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 as well as Pommard and Wadenwswil. The vineyard was planted in 1973 by Bill Fuller and vines are grown on Laurelwood soil. The wine was aged 15 months in 40% new French oak prior to bottling. The wine begins with aromas reminiscent of orange rind, pomegranate and red cherry. This has flavors of red cherry, guava, raspberry and is done in the open style. Drink 2015-2023- 90
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Elton Pinot Noir- This wine comes from a vineyard planted in 1983 that is set on Jory soil. The wine aged 10 months in 45% new French oak prior to bottling. The wine begins with aromas of nutmeg, thyme, black truffle and forest floor. The Pinot has flavors of cherry cola, spicebox, cran-apple and raspberry. This is absolutely delicious right out of the bottle, with a striking mineral streak. Drink 2015-2026- 93
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Hannah Pinot Noir- This wine is sourced from vines grown in the upper part of the Tualitin Estate vineyard where Dijon clones 667 and 777 are utilized. The Pinot Noir was aged 10 months in 60% new French oak prior to bottling. The wine begins with aromas of black truffe, forest floor and red cherry. This leads to flavors of orange rind, pomegranate seed and a lithe minerality. On the lighter side, but elegant wine that will be long aged. Drink 2015-2025-92
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Bernau Block Pinot Noir- Sourced from 15 acres of Pinot Noir from the first plantings at the Estate Vineyard in 1983, Founder Jim Bernau planted these vines using a Christmas tree planter pulled behind his 33 horsepower tractor. He grafted the French clones 667 and 777 on a portion of the vines when they became available. This wine has aromas of red currant, red raspberry and red cherry with thyme. There are flavors of Bing cherry preserves, shitake mushroom, pomegranate and cran-orange. Delicious and lithe effort, with a finish that lingers. Drink 2016-2026- 92
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Signature Cuvee Pinot Noir- This solid bottling comes from their estate vineyard as well as the Tualitin and Elton vineyards. The wine was aged 10 months in 50% new French oak and comes from a host of soils including Jory, Laurelwood and Nekia (shallow and volcanic). This Pinot begins with aromas of forest floor, red currant and red raspberry. This leads to flavors of cran-orange, pomegranate, guava and cremini mushroom. A delight to savor right now, with a lithe minerality. Drink 2015-2025- 91
2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Estate Pinot Noir- This wine comes from the estate vineyard as well as the Tualitin and Elton vineyards. This is one of their larger production wines with 380 barrels produced. This wine opens with aromas of Welch’s grape juice, red raspberry and stewed red cherry. This leads to flavors of black cherry, cherry cola, guava and cran-pomegranate. The Pinot is done in the ripe and forward style, meant for early consumption. A lovely effort by these guys. Drink 2015-2022- 89