March 3, 2016
From the Laboratory:
Here in the cellar the wines are bubbling away as they get through Malolactic fermentation, or MLF. “What”, you might say? “I thought harvest and the days of fermenting were long gone.”
Well, this time of year, once the primary (alcoholic) fermentation is done, the wines go through MLF, a process by which the naturally occurring Malic acid is converted into the less twangy and more reliable Lactic acid. Once the wines go through this process they become much more stable. Stable is good, it means they are that much closer to being ready to drink. A thing, I believe we can all agree on, that is very good.
The Vineyard – What’s happening now?
The most interesting thing to report here is that Jesus “Chuy” Mora is nearly finished pruning our entire vineyard by himself.
Let us paint a clearer picture: Chuy’s shears have touched over 43,000 vines. Yes, you should bring a cold compress to the Spring pickup party for him just to show him you care. We appreciate the hard work and dedication as pruning may be the single most important aspect to vineyard management. These careful cuts set us up for success for the rest of the season. Looks like 2016 is going to be great.
It’s never really as easy as out with the old and in with the new here at PVV. We have a bad habit of falling in love with the people who work for us. Luckily, we are pretty awesome, and they tend to fall in love with us, too. In any case, people do move on, and we wish them nothing but the best.
The old news is this: Ashley Campion accepted a great opportunity as Assistant Winemaker at Lemelson Vineyards, and we trust she is doing great things there. Taking her place as Cellarmaster is Lee Beck who, having honed his skills in California and Chile, now joins our team. Lee brings a diverse skill set and breadth of knowledge with him that we intend to exploit often.
Mary-Ellen Jones, our Director of Hospitality and Marketing, has moved to Ohio. Since we already have separation anxiety (she just left), Mary-Ellen is going to continue to work for our team remotely. She will be regularly pouring wine in Ohio, and helping to get Justina Harris, our new Tasting Room Manager, up and running.
Justina comes to us from a rich background in wine and hospitality. Her a-ha wine moment came at Elk Cove when she was in 9th grade – a story worth asking about. Recently Justina has worked for Lachini here in Oregon, and at Sawtooth in Idaho where she put on events for over 1000 people. Don’t worry, Drink Pink will go on without a hitch.
If you have followed Patton Valley for a decade or more, you know that we started converting our wines from cork closures to screw-caps, with 30% of the 2004′s, 65% of the 2005′s, and 95% of the 2006′s (everything except the reserve Lorna-Marie) getting screw-caps. In 2007, we felt confident that transitioning our entire lineup to Stelvin caps was the best way to consistently preserve the quality of the wine we work so hard to create.
Through the years we have checked in on these wines, conducting tastings to evaluate how identical wines-in every way other that the closure with which each was finished-have aged and developed over time. The results of these tastings have always reaffirmed our decision, but recently we wanted to try it again.
In late March, we conducted a blind tasting using our 2004 Patton Valley Estate Pinot noir, wine that was nearly ten years old. The sample was small, but of 6 tasters, 5 people preferred the wine under screw-cap versus the same exact wine bottled using cork. A key feature noted by all of the tasters (even the one who voted for the cork-version in the end) was the freshness and brightness of the screw-cap bottle. Both wines had matured beautifully, with a lovely integration of the wine’s structural components with the soft, luscious red fruits usually found in Patton Valley Pinots, yet the screw-cap bottle was more vibrant, with years of drinking pleasure still ahead of it. Several tasters noted that the cork-version was showing a little tiredness, with some more funky aromatics, seemingly further along in its maturation, though the one taster who ended up voting for the cork-version (in a close decision) liked some of the funkiness of that wine (there is an odd-ball in every crowd).
Having conducted numerous comparative tastings of the two closure systems for this wine over the years, it has become very clear that the screw-cap closure is superior to cork. Not only is cork-taint eliminated (the primary driver for using a screw-cap), but wines mature absolutely beautifully, over a somewhat longer period than do wines finished with a cork. We took a risk in 2004 going to screw-caps, fearing that our customers might be scared away due to the prevailing perception at the time that only cheap, simple wines used screw-caps. Yet our bet has paid off; screw-caps are clearly better, delivering a much more consistent and age-worthy product, and we are grateful to our customers for supporting us along the way.
Watch the video link to get a bird’s eye view of our vineyard, winery, and the stunning views that surround us!
Patton Valley Vineyards via Sockeye Air from SockeyeAir on Vimeo.
In the July issue of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, Josh Raynolds highlights Oregon wines in the article,”Focus on Oregon Pinot noir.” Though many 2010 Oregon Pinot noirs scored well, Patton Valley scores sit among those from the most esteemed Oregon Producers, with all of our 2010 Pinot noirs scoring 90 points or above!
Appearing to be a fan of the 2010 vintage, Raynolds writes, “There’s a measure of succulence to them that bodes well for both early and mid-term drinking and I suspect that fans of the brighter school of pinot, such as most Burgundy lovers, will find much to like from the vintage.”
To check out our scores and reviews click here!