Beautifully complex aromatics that evolve over a few days, from blackberry patch to violets, from forest back to bright blue and purple fruits, this is a fully charged battery of Pinot noir electricity. A big wine in structural elements yet a fresh and even buoyant Pinot, I was still engaged well into its fourth day open. Something candied orange on the finish.
93-95 points Jeb Dunnuck (tasted as a barrel sample): The 2019 Pinot Noir Apocrypha offers a more up-front, sweet nose of mulberries and blueberries as well as violets, orange zest, and forest floor. It picks up a juicy, Burgundian slant with time in the glass and has a good spine of acidity, ripe tannins, and terrific overall balance. It's another beautiful wine in the making.
We recently wrote that no one in the Northwest is making better bold red wines than Force Majeure's Todd Alexander. Well what does this have to do with Reserve Pinot noir, you (rightly) ask? In addition to Todd’s chops with Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, etc. he’s obviously a very skilled Pinot noir-maker; we submit this as exhibit A.
Antiquum Farm is a unique place in the South Willamette Valley (even further south than our old stomping grounds of Corvallis); it’s unique within the entire Willamette Valley and beyond. At 800 feet above sea level, it sits at the threshold of elevation for Pinot noir in Willamette Valley yet it displays a remarkable capacity for ripening, regularly producing an intensity of fruit atypical of most Oregon Pinots.. But more astounding is the vineyard’s ability to retain abundant acidity at levels usually found in cold climate white wines. The dual expression of these elements reveals a personality that is simply not supposed to exist but it does, and it’s harnessed in this 2019.
Antiquum Farm has forged a new system of wine growing. We’ll let them tell the story: We believe that soil is a living system, that a vibrant, emphatically alive place is the defining foundation of terroir. We have forged a new system of wine growing we call Grazing-Based Viticulture. Through this paradigmatic shift in philosophy, we seek new answers to an age-old question: what endows a particular site with its personality, its soul, its terroir? Conventional viticultural theory tells us it’s the topographical orientation of the slope combined with the elemental and structural composition of the soil. We believe commonly held conceptions barely scratch the surface of terroir while disregarding two of its most important determinants: the microbiological community in the soil and the relationship between that community and the vines living in that soil.
In our vineyard, individual expression is articulated by the unique signature of an infinitely complex web of life beneath the surface working in harmony with the creatures on the ground and in the air. Where these elements are considered in total, therein lies the soul of the vineyard.
We see organic and biodynamic certification as positive steps, but we are setting a higher bar.
Grazing-Based Viticulture harnesses the sun’s energy to capture and store atmospheric carbon. Repeatedly rotating animals (pigs, sheep, poultry and fowl, and guardian dogs) through the vineyards prolongs our grazing window and generates the tonnage of organic material truly required to fuel our farm. The above-ground material is grazed, broken down, and redistributed to the soil – all without the use of machinery. Much of this material is carried beneath the surface by soil organisms. However, the real work is happening in the root mass where tons of atmospheric carbon are captured and a richly complex chain reaction occurs.
As Grazing-Based Viticulture freed our vineyards from the constraints of typical farming practices, we began to see extraordinary physiological transformations and genetic mutations occur. Our berries are no longer the "correct" color or skin composition for the grape variety. Instead, our Pinot noir is a pure blue tone more akin to Syrah or Nebbiolo. The grape skins are thicker, more like Cabernet Sauvignon than Pinot noir, aiding in resistance to pests and mildew pressure.
From Todd Alexander: By now, everyone knows that the Willamette Valley is an amazing place to grow Pinot Noir. When I relocated from Napa Valley to partner up with Force Majeure Vineyards, I knew I also wanted to start a project where I could focus attention on a varietal and growing region that I loved. Part of the excitement of being in the Pacific Northwest is the ability to have access to so many amazing vineyards and so much diversity, along with the opportunity to push boundaries and try new things–something that is becoming increasingly difficult in other growing regions.
We partner with a few very small, diverse and amazing vineyards in the Willamette Valley, sourcing fruit from these dry-farmed sites that emphasize low yields, sustainable practices and produce outstanding fruit. The wines are crafted in the same way I have been making wine since I was carrying it out at Bryant Family Vineyard in the Napa Valley–utilizing very low-impact, non-industrial techniques, native yeasts, little extraction and little new oak, and never filtering or fining. This allows a real sense of place to show through in the wines that is often dimmed when too much manipulation is undertaken.