The Vintage: The 2016 Vintage: Playing chicken with Mother Nature. Vintage 2016 was another barn burner for the record books, but with a twist. The continuing pattern of warm night time temperatures established way back from 2012 was in full effect. But this year the water spigot did not get fully turned off during the summer and we recorded measurable precipitation every month during the growing season.
We bore witness to the blogosphere reporting the Willamette Valley once again had pre-mature fermentation with one of the earliest harvests on record. And once again, Ernie would not get out the harvest bins until we saw a little mid-September rainfall. Note: Playing chicken with Mother Nature is not for the weak kneed or timid.
And pretty much right on par with 2015, our first significant rainfall occurred overnight on the 16th of September with 0.36 inches being recorded. We could not believe it. The soils were as dry as the day before, but the rain gauge does not lie. The wine berries were drawing up that soil moisture and continuing to develop aroma and flavor, just as if we had planned it that way, which, in fact, we had.
The 2016 harvest began in earnest at Amalie Robert Estate on September 23. It was a young block of Wadenswil grafted onto 44-53 rootstock at the highest elevation of the property that began the show. And then the mystery of the vintage began to unfold. The 28th of September recorded 0.86 inches of rainfall followed the next day by 0.27 inches. The first couple days of October brought another 0.93 inches. That’s over 2 inches of rain in a week! Now, we are getting somewhere, but only if you were able to hold out for the rains.
Is ripeness sugar accumulation or aroma and flavor development with moderate tannins? When and why do you harvest and who gets to make that decision? This is where the motivation behind contract vineyards and estate grown vines becomes apparent. Some blink, some don’t.
And that is when we got with the program. With each passing day of harvest, the sugar concentrations were dropping and the aromas and flavors were coming on strong. And since we leave leaves to shade our Pinot Noir, the aromas and flavors were elegant and perfumed.
The temperatures also began to cool considerably in September. The vintage accumulated 2,177 degree days, but only 300 of those were in September and the last 40 came in by mid-October. The heat came on just like voting - early and often. And then it was over. Vintages have consequences…
You can read the full Harvest After Action Report (AAR) on our FLOG (Farming bLOG):
Tasting Notes: Brilliant polished copper flits about its confines restlessly awaiting a chance encounter. Upon release, the enticement is Orange blossom, kumquat zest, mountain laurel and Asian pear. Broadly textured from the free run juice of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the pure essence of Pinot pervades the palate with the elegance of unadorned fruit and precision of deftly poised acidity yielding a very clean and radiant blush.
Culinary Inclinations: It’s 5:00 somewhere. Simply think of that special place and put yourself in the picture with your toes in the sand. This wine’s potential is only limited by the breadth and depth of your imagination. But recall the wise words of Alexander Pope from 1711 “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” And that is why in 2017, we have virtual reality.
Bellpine Pearl Accolades:
2016 Bellpine Pearl
Brilliant polished copper flits about its confines restlessly awaiting a chance encounter. Upon release, the enticement is Orange blossom, kumquat zest, mountain laurel and Asian pear. Broadly textured from the free run juice of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the pure essence of Pinot pervades the palate with the elegance of unadorned fruit and precision of deftly poised acidity yielding a very clean and radiant blush.
- Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes
Full orange. Dried red berries, orange pith and pungent flowers on the mineral-accented nose. Concentrated red berry and citrus fruit flavors are accompanied by a spicy element that adds back-end lift and cut. Rich yet lively, delivering solid closing thrust on a long, supple finish that echoes the berry note.
- Josh Raynolds, Vinous, February 2018 - 90 points
2015 Bellpine Pearl
A white maple hue alludes to the vinous origins. Bright and distinctive aromas of ripe melon, mango and golden raspberries penetrate. The palate experience is rich providing mid-palate volume without the encumbrance of oak maturation, allowing the true character of the fruit and natural acidity to triumph. This Pearl is far from a shrinking Violet.
- Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes
Bellpine Pearl is a pale rosé made from gently pressed wings of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
Both Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir clusters have small fruiting tendrils or “wings”. These wings typically flower about a week or so after the main cluster. And as you would expect, they ripen about a week or so after the main cluster.
We typically thin off these late to ripen wings before harvest. But the past few vintages have been very warm and we left this extra fruit on the vine to slow down sugar accumulation.
Then just before harvest time we thin the wings off. However, we found the flavor and acid profile of these Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir wings to be perfect for an elegant, stainless steel fermented dry rosé.