2013 Triple Black Slopes Pinot Noir




91 Points from Wine Enthusiast!


2013 Triple Black Slopes Pinot Noir

The 2013 Triple Black Slopes Pinot Noir is deep ruby in color, featuring aromas of raspberry, blueberry and chamomile tea. On the palate are flavors of black cherry and cassis with dried floral notes on the finish. This wine has fresh acidity that builds through the finish, and it is very well balanced.

Available Size: 750ML (Burgundy Style)


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The Triple Black Slopes Vineyard: Elevation & Fun Facts    

The name came from the black-diamond ski slopes that owner Bernard Lacroute loves to ski. This block was the most difficult to prepare for planting because it is so steep and was covered in poison oak and blackberries. Neighbors asked Bernard and Ronni if they were building a ski slope or alpine slide because of the steep grade! The noon sun reaches the vines at a 90 degree angle and combined with the shallow top soil contribute to an elegant, but very structured wine with great aging potential.

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir

Vineyard: 7.93 Acres

Clones: Dijon Clones 114 & 777     

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: October 7, 2013   

A drier than normal winter and early spring were followed by several days of warm weather in late March and early April, resulting in early bud break (April 2 in Terres Basses and everywhere by April 22). Vines grew rapidly in the second half of April with temperatures reaching the low 80s; then a cool night on April 30 caused some minimal frost damage. Bloom started on June 5, followed by veraison on August 2 in the experimental vineyard block next to Terres Basses. Veraison was evident throughout the vineyards by August 20. The summer was sunny and seasonably warm until showers started in early September followed by torrential rains in the second half of September. Close to 7” of rain fell before the beginning of October, the largest rainfall recorded in the Willamette Valley since 1872. We experienced a small amount of botrytis and rot, which was greatly minimized by our rigorous “LIVE” compliant spray program and canopy management. Systematic sorting in the vineyards and at the winery allowed us to eliminate damaged berries. We started harvest in Terres Basses on September 13 and finished in the vineyard planted to clone 828 on October 17. The wines are less fruit forward than 2012, but show excellent balance between acidity and tannins with lower levels of alcohol. This is another cool vintage in Oregon, resulting in fine wines with very Burgundian-like character.

Oak: 50% New Oak

Aging: 14 months in French Oak Barrels

Skin Contact: 23 Days

Malolactic Fermentation: 7 Months

Bottling Dates: March 3, 2015

Analysis: Alc-13.5%, pH-3.65,  TA-4.8

Closure: Cork

Certifications: LIVE Certified Sustainable Wine and Grapes & 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.

Winery Retail Price: $65

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