Perhaps you heard the chatter a couple months ago about the 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, specifically the positive reviews it received from the New York Times and Dallas Morning News. This wine is available everywhere that Montinore distributes its wine and, as a result of producing more of this wine than anything else, it can be seen as our "house style" of Pinot Noir. At an average of $20 per bottle, it won't break the bank either. Producing a consistent product across thousands of cases can be quite an undertaking… how do we accomplish it?
The Estate Pinot Noir, dubbed "Red Cap" by the Montinore team (due to its red foil capsule), blends together around 400 barrels of Pinot Noir from across our estate, plus a couple other vineyards that we farm biodynamically for their respective owners. Each vineyard and barrel contributes differing characteristics to the final blend of the wine: red or black fruit, floral notes, earthiness, herbaceousness... one vineyard can fill in an area where another vineyard may be lacking. Ben, our red winemaker extraordinaire, tries to blend together vineyards and barrels that emphasize red fruits such as cranberry and pomegranate and are more accessible in their youth. In his own words, “The Red Cap is approachable young and is our most diverse red when it comes to food pairing. Since each vineyard block is fermented with its own native yeast, the aromatics of this wine are far ranging and surprisingly adaptable. Serve it with a plate of pasta, and you have one wine. Drink it along with grilled chicken and it becomes another. Even within one glass the flavor evolves from the first sip to the last.”
Not that the Red Cap can’t benefit from some aging. As the theme of the day goes, we must know: how does it hold up after a few years?
Rewind the clock to the 2002 Estate Pinot Noir. This year has a place in the pantheon of remarkable vintages in the brief history of Willamette Valley wine and was widely considered to be the best until 2008 (of which scant few remain).
The wine opens with a definitive earthy funk of matsutake mushroom and an intermingling of forest floor followed by cranberry spice… think smells you’d encounter around the holiday season. Red fruits and plum dominate the flavors along with a hint of licorice and cigar box. The tannins have fully integrated into the wine and it’s drinking beautifully right now.
The 2012 Estate Pinot Noir definitely has the potential to become similar to the 2002 in another decade or so, and we’ll eagerly be watching (and tasting) its transition.