Oregon’s wine industry growth has been notable and it’s smart for wine fans to watch their offerings. The vineyard count has roughly doubled in the past 15 years with wine sales eclipsing the half billion dollar mark in 2018. The majority of growth took place in Willamette Valley.
A few years ago, I had visited WillaKenzie Estate and their tasting room in the Willamette Valley. Oregon’s style of wines have a little different character than California’s for example, mainly due to climate. I thought this would be an appropriate time to revisit Willakenzie’s offerings, as I had really been impressed by their wines as well as the entire estate on my visit. The layout on three declining ridged hilltops is stunning. It’s described in my review, WillaKenzie Estate 2018 Pinot Gris.
WillaKenzie Estate is a PN specialist, presenting nine different Pinot Noirs to the market. Although the founder, Bernard Lacroute, hails from a small village in Burgundy, France, initially he came to study at the University of Michigan in the United States on a NASA fellowship, earning an MS in Electrical Engineering as well as a graduate degree in Physics there. He then joined Digital Equipment Corporation and worked on the design of the VAX minicomputer, one of the most successful and long-lived in the annals of computer history. For an encore Bernard joined Sun Microsystems in 1983 as their first Executive Vice President of Engineering where he helped develop the Sun Workstation line, powerful desktop computers designed especially for engineering and scientific use, helping Sun to become a multi-billion-dollar market leader. Eventually, Lacroute became affiliated with the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley, also founding WillaKenzie Estate in 1992 along with his American wife, Ronnie.
Willakenzie’s 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, is translucent pale-purple with ruby-hues in color, light to medium in weight, and offers very fine structuring tannins. It is definitely inviting, in a discreet way, while displaying its refreshing brightness and unique character. At 30-minutes of breathing this wine gains in complexity, intensity, and richness showing just a tinge of black fruit and fig. The 2016 is dark and long in a clearly moderated presentation. WillaKenzie’s 2016 Willamette displays Pinot Noir’s varietal character while delivering aromatic hints of delicate rhubarb, strawberry, and a trace of black plum and mineral echoing on the palate. Give it a try after 24 to 48 hours.
This 11,000-case production totaled 21 days of skin contact and was 100% destemmed prior to a four to seven day cold soak. Élevage was 13 months in French oak barrels (30% new). Alcohol reads 14.4%
The composition is a 35/65 blend of 100% Pinot Noir grapes from the proprietor’s Jory Hills and WillaKenzie Estate vineyards. Bearing the same name as their soil types, Jory sand Willakenzie, they are almost entirely dry-farmed. The Estate is independently certified LIVE, Salmon Safe indicating environmentally and socially responsible winegrowing in the Pacific Northwest. About $35
A sample for review.