Apr 22, 2013

Posted by in Featured, In The Glass | 0 Comments

Celebrating Earth Day With Willakenzie Estate 2010 Estate Cuvee

willakenzie soil

Willakenzie soil | photo: willakenzie.com

Happy Earth Day! I thought it would be most appropriate, on Earth Day, to pop the cork on a bottle of wine from a winery that is not only named after dirt, but also believes that dirt matters. Yamhill-Carlton’s Willakenzie Estate is a small family owned winery located in Oregon’s picturesque northern Willamette Valley.  Considered one of the pioneers of cultivating Oregon’s cool-climate varietals, Willakenzie Estate is well-known for producing world renowned wine.

The estate is named after the marine sedimentary soil that is found throughout the vineyard property – Willakenzie soil.  Having coined the term dirt matters, a reflection of a phrase that the French use when referring to terroir, Willakenzie Estate co-owners, Bernard and Ronni Lecroute, believe that dirt matters because, “wines reflect a sense from which they came.”  The Lacroutes own vineyards at two different locations: Willakenzie Estate in Yamhill-Carlton AVA and Jory Hills Vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA – each named after the soil types found on the vineyard sites.

photo (93)“Willakenzie soils are in turn named after two of Oregon’s major rivers:  the Willamette and the McKenzie.  One of the oldest soil types in the Willamette Valley, Willakenzie is a marine sedimentary soil left by ancient, uplifted seabeds. It consists of moderately deep, well-drained silty clay loam over siltstone and sandstone. Characteristics of wines grown on Willakenzie Willamette Valley soils include a predominance of black fruit (blackberry, black currant, and black cherry).  By contrast, Jory Hills Vineyard is planted on a volcanic soil type with basalt as the underlying substrate.  Our Jory Hills wines have a predominance of red fruit (raspberry, red cherry, and red currant).”

Although some geologists claim to have debunked the so-called myth that soil types can be detected in the flavors and aromas of wine, I’m going to stand-by my palate: I taste the difference between AVAs.  If I were to do a blind tasting of three Pinot Noirs, one from McMinnville AVA, one from Dundee AVA and one from Yamhill-Carlton AVA (all sub AVAs of Oregon’s Willamette Valley), there’s a 99% chance I’ll be able to correctly guess which one comes from which AVA. Debunk that, Geologists (and I have the utmost respect for geologists – I would love to be one).

jory soil best

Volcanic Jory soil | photo: eastburnvineyards.com

So, in celebration of Earth Day, I raise a glass (a Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glass) of Willakenzie Estate 2010 Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir.  With fruit sourced entirely from selected vineyards blocks that have all been sustainably-farmed, aromas are distinctly of, you guessed it, blackberries, black cherries and ripe, dark fruit with hints of earth and pie spice. Lush and super juicy on the palate, the dark fruit aromas transform into brighter fruits of strawberries and cranberries, and the finish is silky and long lasting.  A true expression of the characteristics often found in fruit that’s grown in the Willakenzie soil type, imagine that! This is a truly enjoyable Pinot Noir.