2016 Grochau Cellars, Pinot Noir, Zenith Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The beautifully aromatic and textural 2016 Zenith Vineyard Pinot from John Grochau at Grochau Cellars is an absolute joy to behold in the glass with ripe layers of silken red fruits, a deep floral array and graceful opulence that perfectly capture the vintage and place, making for a heavenly Pinot experience. I am hugely impressed with the Oregon 2016 wines, they are ultra satisfying now they have had another year in bottle to develop and lose some baby fat, they remind me of some of the state’s classic years, with 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2008 coming to mind, and this Grochau Zenith is finding its groove and delivering a stunning performance, even better yet, it should keep getter better and it is still available from the winery at a very reasonable price. There is a lot to admire here, from its dreamy bouquet to its exceptional length, this Grochau Pinot fills out on the palate with blackberry, red currant, strawberry fruits that revolve around a core of black cherry that is also accented by distilled rose petals, a light earthiness, orange tea and whiff of baking spices with very subtle wood notes. The mouth feel really gets your attention and its lush creaminess thrills the senses, but there is also a very exciting undercurrent of energy and natural acidity, which is non aggressive and gives a sensation of weightlessness in effect, while still providing a structured component to this very well crafted wine. Zenith is a Cru site, owned by Tim and Keri Ramey, with many small climates within its boundaries and a diverse set of soils, including marine sedimentary deposits, mineral rich veins and some volcanic influences that add to the depth of complexity in the wines that come from this highly regarded vineyard, with a stellar resume of success by wineries like Ken Wright, Beaux Freres and St. Innocent over the years, to name just a few.

Grochau Cellars was founded in 2002, after John Grochau had worked at the legendary Erath Winery and notably Brick House Vineyards, where working alongside winemaker Doug Tunnel he gained experience and insight that has guided him in his own path in winemaking style. Grochau, who fell in love with wine while riding bikes professionally in France, especially while cycling through the picturesque Loire Valley and when he retired and came home to Oregon he quickly immersed himself in the wine and food culture, it was at this point he knew it was his calling and after almost a decade in the restaurant business he jumped head first into winemaking, where his talents have been realized. Grochau, notes, he was inspired by the diversity of the Willamette Valley’s soils and microclimates, which he promotes by crafting terroir driven wines, like this Eola-Amity Hills Zenith Vineyard shows effectively, expressively and with glorious detail, sourcing from only organic and sustainably-farmed vineyards. Grochau’s wines are all hand-crafted small lot wines that, which he adds, are slowly and naturally fermented using native yeasts and aged mostly used French oak barrels, with this Zenith single vineyard Pinot being a cuvee a selection of, what John calls, the most special barrels produced from this fantastic vineyard. Grochau made this wine from Pommard clone, coming from Zenith’s block 6G, (planted in 2003) which Grochau explains, is wind protected and has a warmer exposure, giving deeper fruit concentration and powerful fruit than many of the other blocks. I met and tasted with John in the past and really thought his wines were special, so it was great to see his new releases are even more compelling and I look forward into digging into his collection of Pinots, plus his Gamay and Melon. This 2016 is sexy stuff to enjoy now, in particular with hearty foods and or to cellar for another 5 to 7 years, it is a wine that intrigues with every sip, I suggest picking up a couple (or more) bottles to savor over the coming few years.
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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