Where so I start on this beautiful fall day. Let’s start with the 2008 season.
The 2008 season started out very iffy and ended perfectly. The growing season started slowly with bud break coming a month late due to a cold wet winter. Spring continued to be very cool and bloom break was also a month behind the norm. However, fruit set, which follows, took place under ideal conditions to give us a great start on the clusters. The summer continued on a normal to cool course with only a couple of short stints of hot weather. This allowed the vines to begin to catch up with normal timing. In the meantime, conditions were favorable to keep mildew at bay and the plants were not heat stressed nor thirsty for water.
Then came September. The weather again began to cool down and slow the maturation of the fruit. We were already a week behind and nervous to get ripe fruit in the barn before the rains hit. We had dropped fruit twice to get down to our targeted 2 ton an acre so that would encourage ripening. Then the weather started to change and predictions of rain began. Rain hit on October 2nd and it rained for 4 days. We were all on pins and needles. We had picked a little fruit as insurance just in case things went from bad to worse. But they didn’t. We had a couple of days here and there that were cloudy with very little moisture and we escaped a couple of bullets.
As we were already behind by a week, as the days and nights began to get cooler, it became harder for the vines to ripen the fruit any faster. Our sugars and flavors were good, but the acidity was still a little high. So we let the fruit hang and picked the last of the Jordan Block on October 23rd, our latest pick to date. The yield ended up being slightly higher than 2 ton per acre of beautiful, clean fruit. The Brix were around 24, acidity around 3.1 pH, with depth of flavor and color. I believe the 2008 vintage may be a classic. I know, I am always optimistic after harvest. I can’t help it. I love these cool weather Pinots.
On to new releases.
Labor Day saw the release of 4 new releases for Youngberg Hill; 2006 Natasha Block, 2006 Jordan Block, 2006 Barrel Select, and the 2007 Pinot gris. As you recall, I thought the 2006 vintage might be our best ever. I stick to that claim. They are still very young and reserved, but show great promise. The Natasha Block continues to be a fruit forward wine with robust flavors of raspberry, cherry tart, rhubarb. Then the white pepper kicks in with accents of tobacco and leather to express the earthy components. The tannins are firm and well structured with a smooth finish. The vintage is still developing in the bottle and will be at its best from 2010 to 2020. The Jordan Block offers intense flavors of blackberry, plum, and black cherry with a floral note. It portrays the earth through forest mushrooms, cocoa, and black pepper. The finish is rich with a full and round texture. The tannins are very balanced with softness and structure. Best from 2009 to 2019. The 2006 Barrel Select is fruit from the Jordan Block. Three barrels were doing extraordinary things in the barrel, so we decided to hold them back and leave them in the barrel for four more months. The result is an extremely balanced wine with smooth tannins. You still pick up the Jordan Block fruits of black cherry, blackberry and raspberry, with a hint of vanilla bean coming from the barrel This wine truly represents the hill the fruit was grown on, Youngberg Hill. Best from 2009 to 2019.
The Pinot gris is a delightful change from the typical Pinot gris and reflects an elegance typical of the 2007 vintage. Our 2007 Pinot Gris fruit is from a neighboring vineyard. This particular vintage is blended with 5% Gewürztraminer to give it an added dimension of flavors and to arouse the nose with floral scents. It is semi-sweet and has a full palate and delicate finish. It is bright, clean, and fun to drink. The wine has excellent balance for drinking alone at cool temperatures and with cheeses or a light salad.
What a perfectly cool climate vintage. The 2007 Natasha Block has just been bottled. The Jordan Block will follow in a couple of months. These wines will bring you back to the days prior to 1998 when the wines reflected the weather of Oregon. Fortunately, we have learned a lot over the decade both in the vineyard and the winery such that the quality of the wines produced in a more challenging growing season as 2007 are significantly better. Some will suggest even better than the benchmark of 2002. Time will be the judge.
More to come.
We continue to groom the Aspen Block in anticipation of our first crop of estate grown Pinot gris in 2009. We also planted 4 more acres of Pinot noir this year, last week in fact. It is the Camelot Block, appropriately named by Nicolette. It is 777 clone on 10114 root stock. Look for Camelot Block in the 2012 vintage.