2016 Elk Cove Pinot Noir Clay Court Vineyard Chehalem Mounta
Back in the early 1970s, Pat and Joe Campbell moved their young children to an abandoned barn in Chehalem Mountains with an old trailer and a barren plot of land waiting to be tilled. Such were the choices they made back in those days! Once there, the young family’s first order of business was to plant some grape vines and then, once they actually grew, convert the old barn into a makeshift winery. Then they set about building the homestead out of repurposed wood and planting a massive garden, which Pat tends to this day for their daily sustenance. As the vines matured and the wines, now called Elk Cove, improved from merely rustic to downright good, their Rieslings and Pinot Noirs began to win awards and garner national attention.
Since the Campbells first landed in the Willamette Valley, a lot has changed. Back then there were only ten wineries in the entire state; today there are almost 500. And they’ve had to work hard to stay relevant. In 1995, their son Adam took over the running and winemaking duties at Elk Cove and he’s made one excellent decision after another, not only keeping Elk Cove relevant, but at the top of the heap too. One of Adam’s best moves was buying the vineyard land that surrounds winery. Called ‘Clay Court’ this small vineyard, planted in 2001, is known throughout the area for its dark red, volcanic soils and, now in its teenage years, it’s just coming of age and yielding very distinctive, extremely high quality fruit.
The newly arrive 2016 Clay Court Pinot Noir is a gorgeous expression of what this part of the Willamette Valley can produce. Highly perfumed notes of red berries, cherry cola and rose petals shine, while a distinctive smoky minerality appears in the latter part of the aroma. Clay Court’s dense soils endow the wine with broad-shoulders and a richly textured palate. Notes of red and black cherries, raspberry and pomegranate are abundant, while Oregon’s classic forest floor notes add a Burgundian sort of complexity and depth. The tannins are perfectly realized, while its acidity remains tremendously fresh, perfectly balancing the wine’s perfect ripeness. With three consecutive strong harvests under its belt, the Willamette Valley truly seems to be hitting its stride and here’s a wine that proves the Valley’s artful blend of California-like fruit and Burgundy-like acidity can come together to produce the perfect Pinot! Get those lamb chops ready. This one is a real winner.