Mar 3, 2013

Posted by in Best Case Scenario, Featured | 2 Comments

Best Case Scenario: Johan Vineyards 2009 Estate Pinot Noir

4 wines for bcsOn Facebook yesterday, I asked, “Which of these 4 wines should I pop the cork on for the new featured Best Case Scenario wine?” – a lot of people chimed in. Of the four Pinot Noirs that were up for a vote, 2008 Amalie Robert Estate Selection, 2009 Johan Vineyards Estate, 2010 Atticus and 2011 King’s Ridge – Johan got the most votes. I was a little skeptical about opening the Johan, only because some recent ’09 Willamette Valley tastings proved that extra cellar time was needed. But, when Rebecca Marie Pittock Shouldis, a well-known Willamette Valley winemaker, shared some words of wisdom about Johan, my reservations about popping the cork on the 2009 vintage dissipated.

“Johan, Atticus, and Amalie Robert are all clients of mine and these wines are all available online at Northwest Wines to You in 40+ states. They are great examples of elegant Pinot. I would vote for Johan for this week… As you mention, it is an 09. 09 as a vintage is showing really well these days. Because Johan is blessed with a cooler site (thank you Van Duzer corridor winds!) you may notice that their alcohol is significantly lower than many other 09s. I’m a HUGE fan of lower alcohol elegant Pinot… You can’t lose with these Julia! Cheers!”

photo (75)I haven’t yet had the chance to meet Rebecca, but I have a feeling we’d get along really well. Not only am I a huge fan of lower alcohol elegant Pinots, just like Rebecca, but I absolutely, 100 percent, love the wines she produces for Ghost Hill Cellars – she is a stellar winemaker.

So, Johan Vineyards 2009 Estate Pinot Noir is the Best Case Scenario wine I’ll be featuring for the next two weeks. I popped the cork today, shared some with my girlfriends while we were out to lunch, and saved just enough to have another glass tomorrow for a food and wine pairing I’ll be sharing in the Pair This section on

Johan Vineyards ’09 Estate Pinot Noir displays vivacious aromas of bright red fruit – raspberries and cherries, with a hint of earth and spice and a little white pepper on the finish. I loved the silky, creamy mouthfeel. Lush, round and really well balanced, Rebecca was right, this is a fine example of an elegant Pinot Noir. We all absolutely loved it.

As Rebecca mentioned in her comment on Facebook, Johan is blessed with a cooler site because of the Van Duzer Corridor winds. Afternoon ocean breezes flow through the Van Duzer Corridor, and temperatures are cooler at night – both are ideal for ripening Burgundian varietals, like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Located in Rickreall, Oregon, in the famed Willamette Valley, the Johan Vineyard property sits on 85 gently sloping acres that range from 180 to 380 feet above sea level, and is organic and Biodynamically farmed.

photo (74)Johan Vineyards winemaker, Daniel Rinke, learned how to grow grapes using Biodynamic farming methods in California’s Central Coast, but a love for Pinot Noir brought him to Oregon and Johan Vineyards, where he’s been the winemaker and vineyard manager since 2007.

What is your winemaking philosophy? “Minimal winemaking intervention; native ferments, low fermentation temperatures, whole cluster, punchdowns by foot.”

How has your style evolved over the last 5 to 10 years? “More whole cluster, fewer punchdowns, longer settling time before barreling down (double rack, less lees in barrel)”

What do you love about Oregon Pinot Noir? What makes it unique? “Juicy red-toned fruit, ripe flavors at low sugar levels, great acidity, elegant style, complex aromas.”

Tell us about the 2009 Johan Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir: “This Pinot noir was made from the winemakers’ selection of estate grown fruit. The grapes were fermented (both primary and malolactic) using exclusively native yeast, with approximately 42% whole-cluster. The wine was aged for 11 months in 100% French oak barrels; 32% were new. In line with the goals of Johan Vineyards, this Pinot Noir is made in a classic style, with a focus on balance, complexity and elegance. It clearly represents the character.”

What is one non-flavor descriptor to describe this wine? “Power and elegance”

For the wine geek in us all:

  • Cases produced: 1033
  • Alcohol 12.5%
  • pH: 3.86
  • Acidity: 5.5
  • 11 months in French Oak, 32% new

US Markets/Distributors: Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota


If you’ve joined in on this tasting by purchasing a bottle of your own, please leave any comments below and/or tweet about it on Twitter using hashtag #BCSJohan. I will add your comments and photos into the article and share your thoughts on this wine!





  1. All of the Johan Vineyards wines that I tasted were stand-outs for me at WBC12 in Portland last August. So much complexity and flavors. They are now permanently on my “most wanted” list.

    • I agree, Luke. Their wine definitely stands out, and it’s all about the complexity and flavors. I was really impressed with how well balanced the Estate Pinot was, too – really excellent!


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