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Dark red with purple hues, the 2011 Grand Cuvee is bright and vibrant with a nose of sweet raspberries, bakers chocolate, violets and tea leaves. It is broad and soft across the palate with great lenth from the balance of tannis and acidity. Flavors of coconut, plum, leather and cherry cola linger on the palate. Its depth and liveliness gives the wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared for many years to come.
As we thought that last year was a record in delaying the harvest picking decision, we did not know 2011 would have set a new record. For most of the Willamette Valley, the entire growing season was late. Starting with a cold and rainy spring we did not see bud break before May. Then the very mild summer did not help the large crop we were seeing to catch up through bloom and veraison. In our vineyards, we helped nature to gain as much sun as we could by dropping fruit and exposing it more by pulling leaves. Then the rain started in October, adding to our concern. We decided to wait anyway and the rain stopped, allowing the fruit to end its maturity. And this long and steady growth increased the structure and complexity of the fruit in a very positive way. The grapes came at their maturity peak with a load of ripe flavors, tannins, acidity and color. We knew right away before the end of fermentation that this vintage was worth the wait and the effort. The complexity and balance is beautiful, resulting in wines with strong fruit character and structure, ideal for cellar aging.
By combining grapes from a variety of appellations we created a wine with complex layers. We selected premium vineyard sites throughout the Willamette Valley, including Domaine Danielle Laurent (Yamhill-Carlton), Grand Cru Estates ( Yamhill-Carlton) Hyland (McMinnville), Zena Crown (Eola-Amity Hills), Willakia (Eola-Amity Hills), Bailey (Chahalem) and Monk’s Gate (Yamhill-Carlton). All of the vineyard sites embrace viticultural practices that reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides which can have a negative impact on the soil’s health. The vineyard sites were closely monitored to ensure the maximum quality of fruit. Harvest decisions were made based on fruit flavors and sugars.
All grapes from the individual vineyard sites were hand-sorted and destemmed prior to fermentation. Grapes from each vineyard were fermented individually in small lots. Cold maceration preceded fermentation to maximize color and flavor. The fruit was fermented in 2½ and 5 ton open top stainless steel fermentors. These grapes were punched down daily by hand for a total of 26 days of skin contact. After primary fermentation the juice was gravity-fed directly to barrels. 100% malolactic fermentation occurred over a 5 month period. Aging took place for 8 months in French oak (33% new) barrels from a variety of coopers.
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