We're seeing fewer truly excellent, artisan-made sub-$25 Willamette Valley Pinot noirs and sense that'll be a trend for the next couple years. And the one that's in our glass right now is truly excellent, not just because it's a mind-bending value but because it is bursting with flavor in an eye-popping way. We tasted a bottle last week that had been open for a day; it was shockingly good. But we needed to open a bottle ourselves to get the fresh perspective and know exactly what you'll experience when you open the first of your bottles. Prepare to be bowled over–we are!–and load up while you can.
Only the second vintage of Shiba Wichern we've worked with, the 2018 Willamette Cuvee has an outsized spectrum of fruit, from red to blue to black, fanning out in both the aromatics and flavors. Grounded by delicious Pinot earth and electrified by an exciting streak of summer berry patch, it's more soulful and deep than we can reasonably expect for the price which makes it exactly our kind of wine. -Marcus
From the winery:
We make boutique wines and sell them at fair prices.
The philosophy for the 2018 Willamette Cuvée was the same as it always is–balance first. However, the components changed–a lot. In 2018 we still have Nuestro Sueno (Eola Amity Hills AVA) and Havlin (Van Duzer Corridor AVA) vineyards, but we no longer have Lewman vineyard. We also added two vineyards from the McMinnville AVA–Momtazi and Bellevue Cross. In addition to all of that we picked up some new blocks of 667 and Swan clones at Havlin Vineyard.
Winemaker and co-owner Akiko Shiba received her engineering degree in Enology and Viticulture from the University of Geisenheim in 2009. Akiko's practical experience is split between the vineyard and cellar as well as between Germany and Oregon. Amongst the wineries where Akiko has gained her practical experience are in Oregon: Evesham Wood, St. Innocent, Ayres and Domaine Serene. In Germany: Franz Keller, Schamari-Muehle, Heyl zu Herrnsheim, Chat Sauvage and Rudolph Fuerst.
Before her career change to the wine industry Akiko graduated from the prestigious Keio University and worked in Tokyo as an editor and journalist in the food and drink sector.
2017 vintage notes
The harmony between sweet silky fruit and savory complexity is delightful. It's thoughtful and it's delicious.
For 2017 the gang is all back together again for one last tour - Havlin Vineyard, Nuestro Sueño Vineyard and Lewman Vineyard. Havlin is back in the mix for 2017 and brings the bright uplifted red-fruit tones. Lewman brings the brooding dark tones. Nuestro Sueño adds its own blue-fruit tones and herbal complexity. This vintage is, sadly, the final year of our contract with Lewman.
As is always the case with the Willamette Cuvée, we aim for balance when making this blend of barrels. After a couple of very intense -almost heavy- vintages in 2015 and 2016, the 2017 vintage comes across as delicate and refined already at this very young age. Right now it is a ready-to-go easy-drinker and it should develop into a thought-provoker over the next decade.