Grapelive: Wine of the Day March 17, 2019

2017 Hundred Suns, Pinot Noir, Old Eight Cut, Willamette Valley, Oregon -photo grapelive

2017 Hundred Suns, Pinot Noir, Old Eight Cut, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Hundred Suns Wines, a reference to the growing season that lasts a hundred days between flowering and harvest, is one of the best finds in Oregon and produce a thrilling set of Willamette Valley Pinots, including this brilliant Old Eight Cut 2017, from a vintage that winemaker across the region are over the moon with. The Hundred Suns label is the personal winery of ex-Beaux Freres man Grant Coulter and Renée Saint-Amour who was on the team at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, these two are crafting some amazing stuff, and I loved their 2016 version of this Old Eight Cut, so it was great to just get my latest couple of wines from Grant, who’s also from Monterey, my hometown, and Renée, which included their top wine from the Sequitur Vineyard and this Old Eight Cut that is a barrel selection from a combination of vineyards from the Willamette Valley including the renowned Shea Vineyard in the Carlton-Yamhill County. They employ a minimalistic approach to their winemaking at Hundred Suns and with a gentle hand, they fermented the 2017 Old Eight Cut using about 30% whole cluster with native yeasts, aged on gross lees for 11 months, in mostly used French oak, then it was gently racked to tank and gravity fed into bottle.

This pretty ruby/garnet hued 2017 is full of purity and is very expressive, Grant was excited for me to try it and I can see why, it’s a gorgeous and lively Pinot Noir that has a youthful, almost semi carbonic, fruit intensity, showing waxy blue fruits, spice, earth, a hint of dark walnut as well as an exciting burst of fresh acidity, adding a polished core of cherry, plum and tart black currants. With air things get more traditional and a subtle floral perfume comes through and a touch of stems, with a herbal/tea note helping cut the fruit impact on the medium bodied palate, but overall the texture is satiny and refined in this wonderful Pinot Noir. This Hundred Suns Old Eight Cut 2017 has a unique personality, it feels like a Foillard Morgon Cote de Py first out of the bottle, then slowly and steadily gains a more Pinot like profile, people familiar with Philippe Pacalet’s Burgundies will definitely see a familiar transformation in the glass.

Grant and Renée add, that this Willamette Valley cellar selection stitches together pieces from each of our single vineyards into a focused blend of each unique and divergent site, as well as highlighting the 2017 vintage, which started cool then gained steam for a classic Oregon finish, making for fresher and more vibrant wines than 2015 and 2016. Along with Shea, in Yamhill Carlton, which is a single clone 777 block on the sedimentary soils that cover a deep layer sandstone, they also sourced from Mike Etzel’s Ribbon Ridge Sequitur Vineyard, which might be the most prized site in the Valley these days, with its biodynamic farmed mix of Chalone, 943 and Pommard clones on classic Willakenzie series soils (Marine Sediment) as well as the Coast Range site, Bednarik Vineyard that is all Pommard clone, and again on the Marine Sedimentary soils. This combo gives this wine its complexity and intriguing personality, with this vintage showing the cooler vintage to perfection with more precision and tight detailing on display here. I can’t wait to see how this wine ages, it is fun and playful now, but it has a ton of potential for the future, I’m hooked on these wines, and this one is a great value.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive