We're seeing fewer truly excellent, artisan-made sub-$25 Willamette Valley Pinot noirs. And we're quite sure that will be the new norm, which makes Shiba Wichern's Willamette Cuvee that much more of an imperative buy.
Harmonious, thoughtful, and delicious. The 2019 reflects the "classic" Willamette growing season (in contrast to 2014 through 2018) with a classically-styled Pinot noir full of silky red fruits, delicate spice and savory accents, carried through on a lithe frame with surprising staying power. Like previous vintages, it is more soulful 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.
For us the Willamette Cuvée is always a study in blending for balance. Our guidelines and goals with blending are always the same - balance the acidity, fruit and tannins. Every year it's the same and every year the Willamette Cuvée turns into something unique.
For 2019 we blended the same 4 vineyards that we did in 2018: Havlin, Nuestro Sueño, Bellevue Cross and Momtazi. The result really highlights my favorite thing about Oregon Pinot noir. In 2018 these four vineyards combined to make a high alcohol (for us!) high acidity wine. In 2018 this blend was a big powerful (again, for us) wine. The 2019 growing season was a lot cooler and a little slower. The resulting wines are more delicate and refined.
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
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.