2019 Hundred Suns, Pinot Noir, Old Eight Cut, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
In a vintage that winemaker Grant Coulter says was kind of a return to normal or a classic Willamette year, cooler and on edge with loads of natural acidity, the 2019 Hundred Suns Old Eight Cut Pinot shines with bright intensity and tart Gamay like flavors, in fact as I have in prior reviews, I find this naturally styled Pinot thrilling in the same way I love the Cru Beaujolais wines from Morgon legendary producers Lapierre and Foillard. Dark garnet and with a touch of stemmy crunch, this spicy Oregon Pinot opens up to reveal black cherry, tangy red currant, pomegranate and garden grown strawberry fruits along with subtle earthiness, sweet and sour herbs, cinnamon, mineral, rose petal and a crisp saline finish that highlights the zippy acidity. With time and air the more sensual and textural side of this exciting Pinot comes through and the wine settles into a more elegant mood and get back into its varietal character with impressive flair, especially for a wine in this price class. The Hundred Suns Old Eight Cut Pinot, is, as Coulter puts it, a cellar selection (that) stitches together pieces from unique sites across the Willamette Valley, including some elite vineyard sites. The separate lots are fermented with all native yeast, partial whole cluster (25% this vintage) and with a variety of traditional and experimental techniques, sometimes including carbonic maceration and or amphora, all to create a layered and transparent wine of great complexity, which I can attest to in the last three or four vintages I’ve tried.
Grant Coulter, the ex Beaux Freres winemaker and his wife Renée Saint-Amour’s Hundred Suns label, which focuses on innovative hand crafted single vineyard Pinots, is one of the most coveted newer wineries in the Willamette region and while once under the radar, is now fully discovered. The top set of Pinots come from unique parcels at Shea Vineyard, in the Yamhill-Carlton district, Mike Etzel’s Sequitur Vineyard in Ribbon Ridge, and the classic Bednarik Vineyard that was planted back in 1998 with a selection of Pommard and Wadensvil clones on marine sedimentary soil. All the vines providing grapes for the Hundred Suns wines are fully sustainable and or organic and the winemaking employed by Coulter is very much on the natural side of things with ancient and traditional methods, but mostly it is about minimal intervention, almost no new wood and very low sulfites, to promote purity and freshness in the wines. I also have fallen in love with the limited Gamay bottling here from the Tualatin Estate Vineyard, it has become one of my geeky favorite Oregon wines, and it is worth being on the mailing list here just to get a few bottles, though I due recommend gripping the killer Pinots too of course, this one, the Old Eight Cut Pinot Noir is one of the best values in the state. The next release from Hundred Suns is this Spring (2022) and it will feature some new things, a Eola-Amity AVA Pinot, a co-ferment Cabernet/Syrah from the Rocks District (Oregon/Washington border area), an amphora raised Syrah and a follow up release of Chardonnay, which I am sure will be awesome, as the last release was excellent. These are not to be missed wines and while they are getting much harder to get, they are well worth the effort!
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive