2010 Bergstrom Vineyard Pinot Noir Gregory Ranch Vineyard

Year: 2010
Appellation: Dundee Hills
Country: USA - Oregon
Wine Advocate: 94
Wine Enthusiast: 90
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Price :
$44.95

"Licorice, horehound, clove, spruce resin and cassis inform the 2010 Pinot Noir Gregory Ranch Vineyard which represents the first crop from a solitary field blend of clones and selections on a magnificently steep 700-foot sandstone hillside in the rugged northwest Willamette Valley foothills of the Coastal Range which I unexpectedly visited and marveled at before I found out whose it was. And the taste is every bit as marvelous as the site! If its Temperance Hill counterpart acted as though some Riesling or Viognier had been blended-in, here it’s as though there were a dosage of Scheurebe contributing vivid pink grapefruit rind and distilled herbal high tones. Hints of iodine and stone add further intrigue while an impression of roasting pan drippings activates the salivary glands. This dense, finely tannic Pinot brings a striking combination of richness, energy, and depth to its long, mouthwateringly savory finish, and should be worth following for at least a dozen years. (Incidentally, in their second harvest, these vines performed shockingly well – from barrel – in 2011 as well.)

Josh Bergstrom was much influenced by the time he spent studying oenology in Beaune and working in Burgundy immediately before in 1999 taking over winemaking duties at his family’s then nearly new estate. Today, it comprises 85 acres of vines in five disparate locations, to each of which a single-vineyard Pinot Noir bottling is dedicated. Rounding out the line-up are Pinots from Shea and Temperance Hill vineyards; a blend; and some very serious Chardonnay that makes up 10% of total production. Bergstrom’s blocks of Temperance Hill were planted to their high-density specifications with vines they bought, and a promise of long-term control “all on a handshake,” notes Bergstrom, adding “that’s Oregon. Forty to fifty percent of the vines in all my vineyards are Pommard (selection),” he explains – echoing a sentiment expressed by a number of top Willamette growers and on which I’ll comment further in next year’s report – “because I think that’s the skeletal structure of Oregon Pinot Noir. The Dijon clones, for as lovely and fleshy and fruity as they are, can sometimes be too much of a good thing.” There is considerable clonal diversity in his vineyards, but few blocks are mixed, whereas Bergstrom says “if I had it to do it all over again, I’d take 30 different clones in a jumble and just throw it out there.” Pioneers in Willamette biodynamic viticulture – virtually since their estate’s inception – the Bergstroms typically crop at little more than two tons per acre, though in 2010, across-the-board, they didn’t even manage quite one ton. Josh Bergstrom reported losing “only 30%” of his total Pinot crop to birds, whereas he lost 70% of his Chardonnay to them, and a total harvest that usually lasts six weeks took only three. Around half of the cellar was lightly chaptalized, a rate that crept-up in 2011. Bergstrom favors a long cold soak and wherever he judges it feasible a significant amount of both whole clusters, and spontaneous fermentation (de rigueur for fruit from those sites he farms biodynamically). Acidification is eschewed (and even in 2009, Bergstrom insists you simply had to pick earlier to preserve acidity). “I know that there’s going to be balance in the whole blend,” he claims, “given that we have so many (microclimatically) divergent blocks within each vineyard.” There’s one conical wooden upright, but otherwise fermentation takes place in jacketed stainless steel tanks. In keeping with an increasingly popular sentiment (hardly confined to the Willamette Valley) Bergstrom reports that while “we used to do upwards of one pigeage every two hours all day long and use 100% new oak, we’ve really backed-off in recent years to get a little less brash, in-your-face style of Pinot Noir and instead more elegance, doing maybe one pigeage a day and in some vintages like 2010 or 2011 doing more remontage. My style in Pinot has been increasingly influenced by my love of Chardonnay,” he adds, and he just came back from doing brief stages with Roulot and Morey. The young Pinots are pressed at dryness and settled for several days before going to barrel; are racked into tank after 11 months, and then sit there until February bottling. Incidentally, I tasted through Bergstrom’s 2011s in barrel – wines he says have shocked him with how expressive and high quality they are turning out to be – and I did indeed find them exciting." (WA)

"This wine begins tight and peppery, with cranberry and cherry cola flavors. Tasted over a period of several days, it not only held up well, but seemed to gain in focus. It's not a big wine, but it has authentic grip and surprising ageability." (WE)