Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Day In The Willamette Valley - Part 2, Seven of Hearts (An Early Look At 2010)

I was just at Byron's last week and tasted through his lineup, so I only stopped in to drop off the bottle of Brick House chardonnay I'd bought for him and to say hi, especially since he was buried in tasters at the bar. He insisted I stick around so I lurked in the corner for a while thinking I was going to get out of his way anyway . . . until he thrust a glass at me saying, "2010 Armstrong Vineyard". How could I pass this up? Doug and Michele Ackerman, good friends, own the vineyard and Byron was one of three people who bought their first crop (third leaf) in 2010. The other two are Vincent Fritzsche of Vincent and Brad MacLeroy of Ayres.

Turns out he'd pulled some samples of the three lots he'd fermented and taken them to dinner the previous evening. The event was a gathering of the three winemakers along with Doug and Michele, presumably to taste all the product. Brad couldn't attend so his father-in-law, Don - who is actively involved in the winery and vineyard - stepped up to the plate. 

The first lot I call "Dark and Brooding". It's 100% Pommard and 30% whole cluster. It has that dark, round, almost meaty flavor profile I love from the Pommard clone. I think I'd be happy if Byron bottled this by itself tomorrow, but he's going to tinker with blends.

The second I call "High-Toned. It's 100% clone 777 and 100% whole cluster, and shows all the lifted aromatics and racy flavors you could want. It's also a bit lighter on its feet. The stems definitely show on the nose and the palate. This one will make a nice component wine but on its own the slight greenies from the stems would bother me. 

The third I call "Spicy and Full-Bodied". This one's all clone 115 with no whole cluster. It's a brute and pretty tannic at this point, showing the typical 115 spiciness. Very dark, too. 

If these are representative of the 2010 vintage we're looking at something quite good. Fortunately, the youth of the vineyard allowed an early pick before the birds got to the fruit, so that disaster was avoided. 

Byron was able to tell me, between dashes to serve real customers (disclosure - I'm pouring with him Memorial Day weekend) that he's planning on some of the wine from Armstrong to go into his Willamette Valley and Reserve blends, some of it to maybe be bottled as a Chehalem Mountain designate and some to be bottled under the Armstrong Vineyard label. I'm so happy that Doug and Michele are getting good quality fruit from their vineyard and that three of my favorite people are getting to work with it. 

Well done, everyone!

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