2009 Pierre Leon Pinot Noir




2009 Pierre Leon Pinot Noir
Deep cranberry red in color, with sweet black fruit and carnation on the nose. The palate showcases red plum, red currant and red cherry, as well as unmistakable earth, nutmeg, star anise, and kirsch notes. It is a seductively plump style of Pinot Noir, with structure that builds in the mouth, yet eases gently into a smooth wood spice finish. This wine delightfully surprises with ripe fruit, which is typical of the vintage, and well-balanced acidity. Its elegant profile and balance lead us to believe this wine will age well for 7 to 10 years. Pair with Chateaubriand, or pork tenderloin with plum sauce.

Available Sizes: 750ML (Burgundy Style), 1500ML (Magnums)

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The Pierre Leon Vineyard: Fun Facts    

Pierre Leon was named after owner Bernard Lacroute’s Burgundian father to reflect the more masculine side of Pinot Noir. The wine is structured and refined with pronounced tannins, a reflection of Pierre Leon and his relentless focus for perfection in everything he did.

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir

Clones: Dijon Clones 113, 114 & 777     

Dijon Clone 113: Naturally high yielding, very fruitful, not much shattering, early ripening. Classic blend of plum, cherry, and raspberry fruits with a cedar and pepper finish. Known for elegant aromatics.

Dijon Clone 114: Lower yielding, vigor and vegetative growth can very greatly from year to year, early ripening. Floral notes and berry, cherry, and dark plum, fruit-driven spicy pinot.

Dijon Clone 777: Most site dependent. The vegetative growth, yields, cluster size are deeply influenced by the location, early ripening. Noted for fleshy, black-fruited wines with tropical notes.

Appellation and AVA:  Willamette Valley and Yamhill-Carlton   

The Willamette Valley, Oregon's coolest wine appellation, is the source for most of the state's winegrapes. It is named for the Willamette River that flows for more than 100 miles, from Eugene in the south to the Columbia River at Portland in the north. The valley is approximately 60 miles across at its widest point, and the center of the valley is approximately 50 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, which provides marine air influence, depending on weather conditions and local formations of the Coast Range mountains. An average of 40 inches of rain falls annually mostly during the mild winter months. Summers are relatively warm and dry. Vineyards are typically located on benchland hillsides at the western margin of the valley.

Distinct subregions have now been identified as their own AVAs, including the Red Hills of Dundee, Ribbon Ridge, the Eola Hills northwest of Salem and the Yamhill-Carlton District southwest of Portland.

Yamhill-Carlton District

North of McMinnville, the land slowly rises to the hamlets of Carlton and Yamhill. These two communities, only three miles apart, have always been paired, sharing both a high school and a pioneer cemetery. Now they lend their names to one of Oregon’s newest AVAs. Low ridges surround the two small towns in a horseshoe shape. The freeflowing North Yamhill River courses through the center of a lush patchwork quilt of nurseries, grain fields and orchards. Above the farmlands, the neatly combed benchlands and hillsides of the Yamhill-Carlton District are home to some of the finest Pinot noir vineyards in the world.

Historically nourished by forestry and farming, this area is rapidly emerging as a global center of Pinot Noir production. This pastoral corner of Oregon's northern Willamette Valley creates a unique set of growing conditions. The Coast Range to the west soars to nearly 3,500 feet, establishing a rain shadow over the entire district. Additional protection is afforded by the Chehalem Mountain to the north and the Dundee Hills to the east.

The coarse-grained, ancient marine sediment native to the area is the oldest soil in the Willamette Valley. This soil drains quickly, establishing a natural deficit-irrigation effect. Thus, the vines stop vegetative growth earlier here than elsewhere, leading to more complete ripening, even in cooler growing seasons. This allows Pinot Noir to develop deep, ruby colors and broad, silky tannins. The mouthfilling wines exude powerful fruit aromas of raspberry, blackberry and black cherries, made more complex by minerality reminiscent of pipe tobacco, espresso, clove and dark chocolate. The wines are also accented by scents of rose, violet, lavender and sweet wood smoke. These are alluring, complex, supple gems of Pinot Noir to sip and savor.

Terroir: Sedimentary Willakenzie Soil   

Willakenzie soils are in turn named after two of Oregon’s major rivers: the Willamette and the McKenzie. One of the oldest soil types in the Willamette Valley, Willakenzie is a marine sedimentary soil left by ancient, uplifted seabeds. It consists of moderately deep, well-drained silty clay loam over siltstone and sandstone. Characteristics of wines grown on Willakenzie soils include a predominance of black fruit (blackberry, black currant, and black cherry).

Harvest Dates: September 25 - October 16, 2009    

The 2009 vintage started with a slightly delayed bud-break in the third week of April. After swift canopy growth from mid-May to June, full bloom ensued by June 18th, resulting in a healthy fruit set. By July, summer heat spells hastened fruit development and seed hardening. By executing a strategic leaf pulling program, we were able to delay exposing the fruit, despite the potential for sunburn damage, which was minimal compared to other sites in the valley where pulling was heavy and early. The growing season provided ample vegetative growth with a focus on maintaining a contained canopy, guiding the plant from green growth to fruit growth. Our clusters were abundant in number and plump with the start of veraison, from August 5th, onward. With appropriate hedging and fruit thinning, we managed to keep our target yields. The fruit matured progressively with very little fruit rot and increasingly lower yield, as dehydration set in. Harvest began on September 21st with Terres Basses and ended on October 12th. The overall quality of the fruit was exceptional with full, heavy clusters, good color, and an ideal balance of sugars and acids.

Oak: 40% New Oak

Aging: 13 months in French oak barrels

Skin Contact: 25 Days

Malolactic Fermentation: 8 Months

Bottling Dates: February 2-3, 2011

Analysis: Alc- 14.4%, pH-3.75, TA-5.1

Closure: Cork

Certifications: Oregon Certified Sustainable Winery, LIVE & Salmon Safe   

Because the soil and the vines are the heart of our wines, the long-term health of both is critical at WillaKenzie Estate. To protect them, we practice sustainability in all aspects of our vineyards and winery, emphasizing respect for the environment and the balance of the entire ecosystem.

Healthy Soil = Healthy Vines

Sustainable farming practices that respect the environment, soil, plants, and people are another expression of our commitment to genuine quality. To promote healthy soil, we use compost, kelp, and cover crops, and encourage beneficial organisms such as earthworms and fungi. To maintain the health of our vines, we use organic fertilizers and fungicides rather than synthetic chemicals. No herbicides are used. Sustainable viticulture is extremely labor intensive—we employ a dedicated vineyard crew year round, who touch each of the more than 200,000 vines on our estate at least 24 times annually, further ensuring consistency and quality. The benefits far outweigh the extra work. Our wines better reflect our soils and our clonal diversity through absorption of soil minerals, and contain fewer residual chemicals. The longevity of the soil is greatly enhanced, and our workers’ exposure to chemicals is minimized.

Creating a Balanced Ecosystem

Visitors to the winery often ask us about the trees on our property. Only a quarter of our Yamhill estate is vineyard. The rest is devoted to pasture and native plants (including Douglas fir, maple, and oak trees) to preserve an ecosystem balance and watersheds. The forests on our property are home to beneficial predators such as hawks, owls, coyotes, and vultures, which help control rodents.

Low-Input Viticulture and Enology - Pioneering Sustainable Practices

WillaKenzie Estate was the first winery to receive the Low Input Viticulture and Enology (L.I.V.E.) winery certification. L.I.V.E. is an Oregon-based, nonprofit organization that provides education and certification for vineyards and wineries using international standards of sustainable viticulture practices in winegrape production. These standards come from a vision of the vineyard as a whole system and promote biological diversity, natural fertility, and ecosystem stability through responsible land stewardship.

L.I.V.E. partners with Salmon-Safe to restore and maintain healthy watersheds. Salmon-Safe is an independent nonprofit devoted to restoring agricultural and urban watersheds so that salmon can spawn and thrive. Native salmon are a key species within the Pacific Northwest and their conservation is closely intertwined with the health of our larger ecosystem.

Responsible Winemaking

WillaKenzie Estate was also the first winery to be awarded Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine (OCSW) status for its 2008 vintage wines. The OCSW program is intended to increase awareness of wineries’ adherence to sustainable programs, communicate the importance and guarantee of certification, and encourage distribution of sustainable wines so consumers can access them. The program focuses on three pillars: responsible agriculture, responsible winemaking, and third-party certification. In order to earn certification, both our winery and 97% of our fruit must be Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine, certified by L.I.V.E, USDA Organic, Demeter Biodynamic, or the Food Alliance. In addition, our fruit must be certified Salmon-Safe. When you see the OCSW logo on our and other Oregon wines, you can rest assured the wine was grown and made responsibly.

Innovation & Sustainability

Our winery is sustainable in many other ways, as well, with innovation and ingenuity always playing a key part. Our underground cellars naturally keep our wines cool, and we use gravity rather than pumps to transfer our wine. We recycle winemaking by-products for compost and have even developed a system that allows us to capture and reuse some of the CO2 produced during fermentation. In 2010, a solar array was completed at our Yamhill estate, producing almost half of our energy needs.

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