Sunday, January 24, 2010

Williamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir 2008

My Aussie friend went to New York again, and this time he actually managed to bring back some wine. We've been trying (when I say we, I really mean he) to find some good examples of New York wine, but with little success. So instead he brought back a Napa Cabernet and an Oregon Pinot Noir, both of which are rare and/or expensive in the UK.

The Pinot turned out to a be unique choice. It was 'whole cluster fermented' using the carbonic maceration method. This is a fermentation method that is intended to produce a light, fruity, easy-drinking style of wine meant to to consumed young. The best example of this type of wine is Beaujolais. I think it probably wasn't what we were interested in trying, but I'm not complaining.

The combination of whole cluster fermentation and carbonic maceration used in the production in this wine is not to be confused with 'whole bunch fermentation' used in Burgundy production. The idea with the latter method is to ferment the grapes without destemming and separating the grapes from the stalks, which can impart tannins to the wine. Unlike carbonic maceration, the fermentation vessel is not then sealed and pumped full of carbon dioxide to encourage anaerobic fermentation.

So - how was the wine? Well it's light and fruity but not really my thing unfortunately. I hate to sound cliché, but it did in fact taste like a Beaujolais, which is not what I'm looking for in a Pinot Noir.

There is an interesting description of Williamette's whole cluster fermentation method in a blog post here. Reading this, it's apparent that this style of wine is made to appeal to people who aren't normally into dry red wines, or just prefer this style.

Also mentioned in the blog post was the goal of producing this wine, which is to "minimize tannin and create a wine that is light bodied and fruity but still reflects the true varietal character of Pinot Noir". I feel that they have achieved the first part of that goal, but not I'm not so sure of the second. It looked like a Pinot Noir, but I'm not sure I would have guessed it was a Pinot Noir in a blind tasting.

Anyway, to each his own. Williamette Valley Vineyards also produce several Pinots of a more traditional nature, which perhaps we'll look out for in the future.

Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir 2008
Williamette Valley AVA, Oregon, USA
~$20 USD

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