2019 Vincent, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
After first tasting the Vincent wines last year, I was excited to try this recent release and I was not disappointed with this bright ruby and translucent Willamette Valley Pinot, it is a lighter framed and elegant expression of this grape with racy and tangy array of red fruits, delicate spices, heightened aromatics and a lovely lingering finish. This 2019 is crisp in detail and shows lots of cherry, brambly raspberry, plum and zesty orangey citrus with plenty of energetic acidity and incredibly subtle oak framing handsome snappy herbs as well as an earthy rose petal element. The Pinot Noir grapes, sourced from top quality sites on marine sedimentary and volcanic soils, are carefully sorted and typically, but not always, get crushed and de-stemmed and then put into small fermenters, with any whole cluster lots, if used, depending on the vintage, Vincent adds, get a classic pigeage, or foot treading, to get things moving and minimize any large air pockets that might be in the fermenter. The winery notes as well, that the main lots of crushed grapes in the bins are then left alone for a spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts, usually this happens within a week or so. Only when enough CO2 is coming off the fermenter in earnest do the cellar team do the first punch downs, where they break up the forming cap of and push down grape matter at the top layer of the fermenter deeper into the juice to extract more flavor and color. Vincent does a unique regime, where they do one punch down each day for the next few days, as fermentation peaks, then they gently wet the cap each day after just to keep things fresh. Depending on how their fermentations go, they typically drain and press their Pinots about three weeks after harvest. Each of the new wines here are settled separately, with the free run kept apart from the press wine, and racked gently into French oak barrels after a settling period usually a day or two. Vincent also uses ultra low SO2 or none when possible and they don’t use any new oak with barrels that range in age and use between five to ten years old, though with a few as young as 2 years and a few that are much older, all to promote a raw purity. The basic Willamette Valley cuvées, like this one, that reminds me of a young Santenay or Cote de Beaune red Burgundy, are aged for one year, while the single vineyard Pinot Noirs and the special “Tardive” labeled wines see an elevage of close to 18 months in the barrel, with all of Pinots only being moved out of barrel for final blending, and then for their bottling of course, all done unfiltered.
Owner and winemaker Vincent Fritzsche started Vincent Wine Company, located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, back in 2009 with a focus on transparent and elegant Pinot Noirs, which are lighter and more vibrant than was the trend of the times and after some success with his stylish examples, Vincent, now produces about 2,000 cases a year of mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but as added some very nice Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and a really exciting Gamay to his collection, which I reviewed recently here. Fritzsche says that he makes his wines in a low-input wine making style, borrowed from the old world, and sources his grapes from some incredible vineyards with several sustainably-farmed parcels from all around the Willamette Valley, which he uses to produce small lots of hand-crafted wine, that he adds are made in a natural way without a lot of fuss. While know almost exclusively for his set of single vineyard Pinots, Vincent does also this regional Willamette Valley bottling, as well as a couple of unique AVA versions too, these offer tons of value for the price and you should search these out and or join their mailing list. Vincent’s Zenith, Armstrong, Redford-Wetle, Silvershot and Bjornson, along with the well known Temperance Hill make for a strong lineup of single vineyard offerings, reaching offering distinct terroir character and individual charms, with the Zenith Vineyard maybe being the most compelling in this thrilling set, but I still need to dig into all of them before giving a final judgement, but I can tell you this 2019 Willamette Valley regional Pinot is a great way to start exploring these wines, along with Fritsche’s tasty Gamay, a grape that is getting a lot of attention these days. Oregon has seen a few tough vintages, which made for a challenge for winemakers with a huge swing in climate conditions from sweltering to cool and with some rain during harvest, like in 2019, and even fires, so it’s been a mixed bag in results from 2016 to 2020, but some producers have really raised to the occasion and made some very serious and delicious wines, with these Vincent small batch efforts being stand outs and wonderful values, keep an eye out for them, especially if you like wines without makeup or pretense.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive