Parsons' Ridge: the name comes from a family that originally settled the area around Montinore in the 1840s. It's one of the original vineyards planted on the property in 1982 and one of the first selected to isolate its particular qualities as a single block wine. The combination of the unique clonal selection of Pinot Noir (a blend of Pommard, one of the most popular clones planted in the Willamette Valley, and a clonal selection that we obtained from Windhill Vineyard) and the deep, loamy Laurelwood soil provide Parsons' Ridge with its structure and flavor profile, which isn't found anywhere else on the estate.
Flipping the calendar back, we opened the Y2K edition of Parsons' today, its third vintage as a single block and the 18th year of the vines' existence. While 2000 was a challenging vintage while the grapes were on the vine, it did produce some concentrated, age-worthy wines, and this wine has the structure to reinforce that belief.
The primary fruit characteristics of a younger Parsons' have faded, leading into secondary and tertiary notes of overturned soil, leather, and dried tarragon. Some red and dark fruits remain on the palate though, with a distinct flavor of red apple skin. The finish lingers with supple tannins and the slightest hint of basil.
While few bottles of this vintage remain even at the winery, the most recent vintage of Parsons' Ridge, 2010, can still be had. Bursting with youthful Morello cherry and an herbaceous streak of marjoram and bay leaf, it's still one of the best examples of the expression of the majestic terroir of Montinore's wines.
We're going old school on Thursdays, shining light on the forgotten corners of our cellar and studying a bit of history. Sometimes we'll find stars, sometimes duds, but it'll always be an adventure.
Did you know that Montinore used to make sparkling wine? For those first few vintages of production, we tried a few different experiments to find our niche. Deep within the cellar, we dug up this gem: a 1988 Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine.
Blanc de Noir literally translates as "White of Black," i.e. a white wine made from grapes that are traditionally used to make red wine. With very gentle handling and minimal-to-nonexistent skin contact, the juice won't absorb any color from the skins, thereby allowing you to make white wine (over 99% of all grapes used for wine production have clear juice; extended skin contact gives wine its color). "Méthode Champenoise" means that this sparkling wine was produced by the same technique used in Champagne: a bit of sweet wine and yeast is added to the bottle before sealing, allowing the wine to re-ferment in the bottle. The carbon dioxide produced by fermentation is trapped and creates the characteristic bubbles when the bottle opens.
How does sparkling wine hold up after 26 years? In this particular instance, as admirably as could be expected. The slightest effervescence remained, providing a light tingle on the tongue. The overriding aroma and flavor notes included honey, apple, and citrus. Past its prime, yes, but a nice gateway into history.
Even though it's been a very long time since we've made any sparkling wine, the "blanc de noir" spirit lives on in our 2011 White Pinot Noir, a wine made by the same method, albeit still rather than sparkling. Head out to the tasting room for a sample of this unique, limited-production wine, and grab a bottle before the vintage is gone.