Violin Willamette Valley Pinot noir 2021
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Get ready for the gorgeous Violin 2021s! The reddest of Will’s Pinots, this harmoniously weaves a satiny ribbon of sweet raspberries and lightly spiced red currants, set off by floral and red licorice highlights.
From winemaker Will Hamilton: A wine that could legally/technically carry the Eola-Amity Hills appellation, with only around 4.5% from First Man Vineyard in the North Valley. Fresh and bright, the poised and focused frame leads toward a satin and spiced finish. The finesse is striking. The biggest component comes from the high elevation Koosah Farm (10 barrels), but also includes Sojeau Vineyard (four barrels), Sylvia’s Vineyard (six barrels), Witness Tree Vineyard (five barrels), and the Easternmost block of Temperance Hill Vineyard called “12 Rows” (4 barrels). Aged on lees in 228L barrels until the second week of December ’22, allowing for nearly six weeks of time to come together in tank before bottling on January 23rd, 2023. 775 cases, 13% alcohol.
Since the massive breakthrough vintage for Violin’s Willamette Valley Pinot noir (2018), this has been among the handful of go-to Everyday wines…while it’s available, that is. Will’s production has grown to the point where we hope to have his wines around for more of the year because they’re clear favorites of ours and have been since we tasted his first vintages.
Damn near the most affable guy in the Valley, Will Hamilton is also one of the best winemakers. Really. One of the best. Even though we now expect greatness from him, he continually surprises us with the new heights he’s reached, beginning with his Willamette Valley Pinot noir (and Chardonnay–but that’s another story for another club*).
As a small producer without an estate vineyard, Violin’s fruit sources have changed remarkably little; Will is locked in to a handful of Eola-Amity’s (and the Valley’s overall) best sites, namely Sojeau and Justice. His 2021 Willamette Valley adds old vine Temperance Hill (seriously!) and the super-exciting Koosah.
2019 vintage notes
Violin was everyone's favorite Willamette Valley Pinot deal last year and thus the conversation must begin with how the 2019 compares. 1) Extremely well. 2) It's the more sophisticated of the two. 3) It smells amazing, more aromatically exciting than the '18. 4) We love it every bit as much–in a different way–and we think you will too.
We tried to outdo winemaker Will's tasting notes and gave up after two days: exuberantly perfumed, the 2019 has exotic and fresh aromatic expression with an edginess that broadens the landscape. A generous spiced component compliments the array of fruits, providing sweetness and depth. The entry showcases the textural roundness of the vintage, which carries the wine toward a refreshing and crisp finish with trademark savoriness and beautiful integration of tannin. As heavy as we like in Pinot noir, we look forward to the slow concentration and complexity that bottle age will reveal. 13% alcohol.
Six total vineyards are included in the 2019 version, with two Eola-Amity Hills sites, Lewman (1%) and Koosah (14%) , entering the picture for the first time. 91% from the Eola-Amity Hills, the platform is again the own-rooted Sylvia’s on the northeast fringe of the AVA (38%), Sojeau on the West side (22%), and Justice (16%). For the 7th year running, First Man Vineyard brings the balance (9%).
Due to the fragile nature of the fruit, I used less whole cluster in 2019, adding around 8-10% on some but not all lots, (though First Man was still 50%). After only 14-18 days on skins, the individual ferments were drained and gently pressed before barreling within 24-72 hours. After nearly 14 months in a mix of new (15%) and used French oak, the wines were brought together in tank for a further 6 weeks before bottling on January 20, 2021.
2018 vintage notes
Once a year, if I'm lucky, a $25 Willamette Valley Pinot shocks me, stops me in my tracks. It happened Sunday night, then again last night and now, this morning. It was all the same wine--Violin Willamette Valley 2018--I just had to put the cork back in and revisit it because I kept challenging myself, thinking "it can't be this good?!"
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And it's Violin Willamette Valley Pinot noir 2018. Even now, on day three, I'm shaking my head in disbelief. And let me tell you the restraint it took not to crush the bottle Sunday night!
Whether you're a casual fan of Willamette Valley Pinot or a season ticket holder, do yourself a favor and buy a case of this wine. It is way more than everything you could want from <$25 Pinot.
As I texted winemaker Will Hamilton a few minutes after opening it, ________ RIGHTEOUS (you can figure it out). It was insanely attractive when I first put my nose in the glass; I think I scared my partner when I yelled to her, "you have got to smell this!" And the taste: if they made Pinot noir candy, this is what I'd want it to taste like. Not sweet, just a little morsel I want to be able to savor morning, noon, and night.
It is Quintessential Willamette Valley Pinot, it offers spectacular value--if you don't partake, you're missing out. - Marcus
Five vineyards bring the 2018 version to life, marking the first time this blend is 90% Eola-Amity Hills. Sylvia’s (38%) and Sojeau (formerly Sojourner, 30%) build the platform with smaller portions of Prophet (13%) and Justice (9%). First Man, the outlier to the North in the foothills near Gaston, completes the blend for the sixth year running (10%).
Bursting aromatics of fresh orchard fruits, berries and flowers bring tremendous intensity, matched on the palate with juicy and vibrant tannins lending a crunchiness to the wine. Medium weight but well framed, the overall balance creates lovely tension before a marked savoriness extends the finish. Higher use of whole cluster in 2018 (approximately 20% on average) lifts the aromatic expression in this wine to new levels, with the firm tannins helping maintain a serious and “food positive” tone. Aged on lees in a combination of new (13%) and used French Oak barrels. Assembled in early December and bottled January 24th, 2020.13.4% Alcohol. - Will Hamilton
From 4.5 of the seven barrels, zero new. Subtle aromatics with complexing edge of green, pineapple, mango, and more “cool” fruit tones. Saline and lime peel on entry, with salty characters adding a touch of savory to the extremely taught acid backbone. Far from a fat version of Chardonnay, the intensity of acid will give longevity and verve to this bottling as time goes by, allowing it to gain weight and fruit intensity gracefully. “Spine before flesh” as a producer I admire has eloquently stated of his own bottlings, and a quote I think applies well here.
Five vineyards bring the 2018 version to life, marking the first time this blend is more than two-thirds Eola-Amity Hills. The total mix is 90% EAH, with the own-rooted Sylvia’s (38%), Sojeau (formerly Sojourner) (30%) building the platform with smaller portions of Prophet (13%), and Justice (9%). First Man, the outlier to the North in the foothills near Gaston, completes the blend for the sixth year running (10%).
Bursting aromatics of fresh orchard fruits, berries and flowers bring tremendous intensity, matched on the palate with juicy and vibrant tannins lending a crunchiness to the wine. Medium weight but well framed, the overall balance creates lovely tension before a marked savoriness extends the finish. Higher use of whole cluster in 2018 (approximately 20% on average) lifts the aromatic expression in this wine to new levels, with the firm tannins helping maintain a serious and “food positive” tone. Aged on lees in a combination of new (13%) and used French Oak barrels. Assembled in early December and bottled January 24th, 2020. 13.4% Alcohol. - Will Hamilton