2016 PINOT NOIR
VINEYARD | DION
block | old vine pommard
clone | pommard
APPELLATION | CHEHALEM MOUNTAINS
WINEMAKERs | Kevin Johnson and Beth Klingner
HARVEST DATE | SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
BOTTLING | JANUARY 13, 2017
ALCOHOL | 14.3%
PRODUCTION | 5 cases
The Old Vine Pommard on the 10-acre winery block are our favorite vines to work with (we don't have a winemaking dogma, but we do have a winemaking dog named Choco). We believe the vineyard does the vast majority of the work. That's a good thing as we are quite small and don't have a lot of tools or fancy equipment, and so are necessarily, and happily, minimally interventionist in our winemaking. We feel our job is to care for the grapes, pick at the right time, and shepherd them through the fermentation process, barrel aging, blending and into the bottle. Beth has been known to sing to the fermenting yeasties, but only when no one can hear (you're welcome). We make decisions based on the grapes, the vintage, the smell, the taste, the chemistry, and our exhaustion/exhilaration level during harvest. Our wines have a lot of red fruits, a little spice on the finish and natural acidity and we aim for ageability as part of our barrel selection process. We tasted through the nine barrels of 2016 Pommard carefully with the idea of picking the best one for the auction. We fortuitously found two, and thus the Bicentennial is a blend of a new French oak barrel and a neutral one. This old block of Pommard Pinot is the source of the best wines we make, and it is most special as it is from vines hand-planted in the U.S. Bicentennial year of 1976 by the Johnson family. Pommard is the king of Willamette Valley Pinot noir, and old vine Pommard is extra special for its rarity in this area. We love this wine, with its nose of fresh hay and grass, sour cherries, and a hint of spice. As we tasted it, even though young, the bright red fruits come through and there may have been some exclamations of surprise and pleasure—is "yum" an acceptable descriptor? We think there's a lot of cherry, pomegranate and creamy strawberries, with a background of tobacco, a touch of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, a nicely structured acidic middle and a very long finish with vanilla and butter. It reminds me of a cherry pie baking in a stone oven, and promises pleasure on the palate throughout.
Dion Vineyard was founded in 1973 with plantings on a five-acre plot in what is now the Chehalem Mountains AVA of the Willamette Valley. Dion is short for Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and viticulture (and fertility—ha!), and is also winemaker Kevin's middle name, although he was founded in 1970 and started the wine label in 2007. The vineyard has grown to 60 acres and continues to supply quality grapes to others in the Willamette Valley. Kevin and Beth produce about 1,200 cases of wine from estate fruit in a small forklift-free facility. The Old Vine Pommard block is their favorite.