2017 Vincent, Pinot Noir, Zenith Vineyard, Eola-Amity AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The 2017 Zenith Pinot by Vincent is still full of life and energy with bright cherry and strawberry fruits, warm spices, mineral tones, wilted rose petals and light tea and herb notes that remind me of an earthy seductive Cote de Beaune or Volnay like Burgundy, with a smooth vinous texture and eager to please, especially with a good food pairing. Vincent Fritzsche, winemaker, 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, with the Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, being his main or elite source, maybe providing the structure and soul. This wine is from a 1.4 acre parcel of Pinot Noir here, that was planted in 2006, set on marine sedimentary soils and seeing a cool to moderate climate, the Zenith Vineyard provides top notch conditions for beautiful and age worthy Pinot Noir, as seen here in this 2017 single vineyard version by Vincent, who’s approach leads to transparency and nuanced complexity. Vincent, I’m told, does a unique regiment, where they do one punch down each day during the maceration and when fermentation peaks, then they gently wet the cap each day after just to keep things fresh. Depending on how fast the natural 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 juice run kept apart from the pressed 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 fills, averaging five to ten years old. Vincent, as told here before in my prior reviews, does also a basic regional Willamette Valley bottling, as well as a couple of unique AVA versions, like this Eola-Amity Hills bottling, and single vineyard wine such as this excellent Zenith Vineyard offering, these wines, as seen with this effort and the others rated here, offer tons of value for the price, and you should search these out and or join their mailing list.
Vincent founder, Vincent Fritzsche, started his small winery, 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. Vincent’s Zenith, Armstrong, Redford-Wetle, Silvershot and Bjornson, along with the well known Temperance Hill, make for a strong lineup of single vineyard Pinots, offering distinct terroir character and individual charms, with this Zenith Vineyard maybe being the most compelling of the set. Vincent typically, but not always, crushes and de-stems the carefully sorted grapes and then put into small fermenters. Any whole cluster lots, if used, (depends on the vintage) Fritzsche notes, 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 explains as well, that the main lots of crushed grapes in 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. The wine is aged in used French barriques and bottled unfiltered with very low SO2 to promote, the mentioned transparency, which this Pinot delivers nicely. As I have said before, Oregon has seen a few tough vintages, which made for a challenge for winemakers with a huge swing in climate conditions from hot and dry to cool and wet, 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, Vincent being one them. The basic Vincent Pinots are aged for one year, while the single vineyard Pinot Noirs, like this Zenith, and the special “Tardive” labeled wines see an elevage of closer to 18 months in the barrel, with all bottled unfiltered. So far I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from Vincent, and this 2017 is one of best, making me excited to check out the 2021s, which I hear are exceptional.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive