Shiba Wichern Momtazi Vineyard Pinot noir 2019
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2018 vintage notes
This Pinot took hold of me a week ago and hasn't let go—I don't want it to.
When a new wine hits me so profoundly I have to re-taste it. I could stick with my first impression but I feel I owe it to our Pinot followers: if I'm going to go nuts about a virtually unknown wine, I better make damn sure, right?
I am sure.
This is the earliest in a calendar year that I've designated a Pinot part of our year-end Collector's Case (coming late 2022), and it is an easy choice for one of my top 10 Willamette Valley Pinots from the spectacular 2018 vintage. I've been transfixed by it since the first sip and I never wavered through tasting a second bottle over four days.
A mere 75 cases were made of which 20 are available. As the winemaker wrote: "So, how does it taste? I suggest you drink it last, because it is a hard act to follow." - Marcus
From the winery: Moe Momtazi and Momtazi Vineyard are legends in Oregon. This vineyard is huge (about 300 acres planted) by Oregon standards and Moe and his team farm it all biodynamically. The list of winemakers who use or have used Momtazi Pinot noir is impressive and we are excited to present our bottling. The vineyard is located just a few minutes from our house in the McMinnville AVA (American Viticultural Area).
The other wines that we had tasted from Momtazi ran the gamut from dainty and floral to fruity bruisers, but they all had intensity and depth that was remarkable. Whether subtle or exaggerated the way almost all wines with Momtazi Pinot noir made their flavors present and focused from the first drop until long after the finish that attracted us.
Our block at Momtazi is the steepest I've ever seen in Oregon. In fact, it rivals some of the blocks I had the pleasure of helping at in Germany's Rheingau region. Walking our rows of Pommard and Wadenswil clones was a challenge, but actually working on the vines is sometimes a little easier. The slopes are so steep that you can actually stand below and face uphill to reach the vine that you are working on, which means tall people like me don't have to bend over as much.
Those steep slopes meant the soil was shallow and the sunlight was powerful in our blocks. So, the yields are extremely low per acre and per vine. In spite of or perhaps because the vines were such a pain to work, the grapes were stunning. As soon as they started to ripen, the intensity was already there. However, the powdery mildew and botrytis weren't far behind, which made for even more work in the vineyard as we cleaned out affected clusters and pulled leaves to promote air circulation before harvest.
In the cellar we sorted some more, de-stemmed the grapes and let them do their thing in two separate fermenters -one for Pommard and one for Wadenswil- for three weeks before pressing, settling and barreling down to used French oak barrels.
So, how does it taste? I suggest you drink it last, because it is a hard act to follow. Dense black fruit starts the nose, but is quickly followed by a delicate woody note almost incense like. Alcohol is on the high side in 2018, but so is the acid and this gives the wine good balance and a surprising lightness. Food pairings will definitely tend to the heavier side with this Pinot noir. As it ages, which it will be able to do for a good long while, it will mellow and be more enjoyable with lighter foods.
[74 cases, pH 3.48, 13.9% ABV, 100% French Oak (3 fill & Neutral), Biodynamically farmed Pommard and Wadenswil clones, native yeast fermentation, no filtering or fining, no additions except a tiny bit of SO2]
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