Antiquum Farm Juel Pinot noir 2021
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Deep in the Southern Willamette Valley…deep as in you think you’re close but keep driving south and west…and you will reach a magical destination. You won’t know you’re there unless your visit is intentional–that word describes every aspect, every notion of Antiquum Farm.
So does the word Farm. Sure, you’ll see a vineyard next to the road (the Pinot gris site) but otherwise, you’ll see some of the menagerie of animals and you’ll both hear and see their fluffy yet ferocious canine guardians. Nestled next to the Gris is a charming cabin where on a chilly, rainy day a wood fire welcomed me.
On the backside of a tall hill in the Coast Range foothills, the Pinot noir vineyard is as close to top secret as you get; it reminds me of Thomas in that way where you know its location on a map but it’s still elusive. From it comes three unique wines, the one selected for the club being the original Antiquum Farm Pinot noir: Juel.
We’ve always thought of it as a more generous, “flashier” version of Willamette Valley Pinot. As the years have progressed and the winemaking has evolved into a new, even better phase, Juel has maintained some of that flash and added a mature refinement. The newest release, from the spectacular 2021 vintage, shows the whole Antiquum site–all Pinot noir clones and blocks come together for a precocious, boldly red-fruited gem that is as ripe as it is lively.
From winegrower Stephen Hagen: “Some folks tell me I am crazy. I grow wine differently. They say my methods are slow, difficult, and simply too much work. I say, life is work. It’s a gift to have work you love. Some do not see how the use of draft horses, grazing livestock and poultry in the vineyard, or infinite hours of meticulous hand labor can create a wine that is more unique, intense and full of life. I don’t understand how it couldn’t.
I often say my wines are made cluster by cluster. It means countless hours of work that can only be done by hand. Going slower. It means that many times a season I personally touch, inspect, admire and yes, love every single beautiful cluster. It means rigid culling without regard to my pocketbook. This attention to detail is inspired by love for my life’s work. I am not a landowner overseeing the operations of a vineyard. I am the operations and a part of Antiquum Farm.
Antiquum Farm is a place of anomaly. Almost an oddity. This site, bearing both traits of a warm ripe site and a high-elevation late ripening site, defies any clear classification. Antiquum consistently records some of the warmest daytime vineyard temperatures in the valley. The fruit maturity here is regularly well advanced in comparison to most other sites.
Why does this happen? Antiquum is also a high elevation site. 800 feet above sea level puts us nearly at the edge of the what is considered a growable elevation for pinot noir in the Willamette Valley. Despite this elevation, the slope seems to collect and amplify heat during the day. Stranger still, the vineyard is warmer the higher up the slope you go. The nights see the trend reverse. This, especially as the days shorten, causes the fruit to hold its acids. These acids balance the massive dark fruit tones produced by the warm daytime temperatures giving the fruit structure, finesse, and complementing bright high tones.