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Boedecker Cellars Stewart Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2011

  • Varietal: Pinot Noir
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Country: USA
  • Region: Willamette Valley
  • Unit Size: 750 ml
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**This Vintage has Just Been Released and has Not Yet Been Reviewed but the Past Two Vintages have gotten 91 Points from Both the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator!!!**

Tasting Notes
Beautiful perfumed aromatics of bright red cherries, raspberries and violets. On the palate, silky red cherry & currant notes lead to hints of spice while the mid palate gains depth and clarity. The bright acidity lengthens a finish that combines fruit with hints of brambles and forest floor.

Winemaker Notes
Aged 18 months total, 9 months in 20% new French oak barrels and 9 months in seasoned barrels. Vineyards: Cherry Grove Vineyard, Stoller, Appoloni, Anderson Family and Momtazi.

Last Year's Vintage (2010)
Wine Advocate 91 Points
“Like most years,” says Boedecker of his 2010 Pinot Noir Stewart, “this incorporates most of our Dundee Hill fruit; but because it was such a cool year, there were a couple of surprises” when the blend was put together (which he and his wife always do blind). ‘A decent chunk of our (Clone) 115 from Shea went into this, which is unusual, because it’s usually a really big, structured block” – fitting the personality Pappas chooses for her “Athena” cuvee – “but this year was very red-fruited and silky.” Bright, juicy cherry and tart rhubarb dominate, with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon as well as piquancy of cherry pit attractively extending a sappy, savory finish that combines invigoration, refreshment, saliva-inducement and a sort of cyanic glow. Tannins are fine-grained to the point of disappearance. I expect this will perform impressively through at least 2018 and quite possibly gain in complexity and acquire a flattering patina without relinquishing its fundamental virtue of energetic, juicy brightness.

This year, I visited and tasted with husband and wife team Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas at their Portland facility, in an impressively neatly-kept “industrial” district that appears to favor wineries, breweries, and other artisanal endeavors. (Vienna may always retain the largest vineyard acreage of any major metropolitan area, but I can imagine that Portland might eventually rival if not surpass the Bay Area in number of urban winemaking facilities.) Boedecker opines that “2011 was a lot like 2010 in that things weren’t ripening and weren’t ripening ... and then, it seemed as though something in the plant just flipped and within a few days all of the flavors came up at once.” That said, believing that green wood spelled risk, they elected to de-stem all of their 2011 fruit, whereas from 2010 – whose Pinots they are currently selling – a significant share of stems (and yet-higher share of intact berries) was incorporated. “We didn’t have as high a malic fraction of acidity, though, in 2011 as in 2010,” Boedecker adds, so buffering was less of a concern and no tartaric acid added to the musts. A few lots from 2011 were chaptalized by a half a percent, but mostly Boedecker and Pappas worked – and stuck – with fruit of around 13% potential alcohol.

Wine Spectator 91 Points
($34) Light, fresh and vibrant, this deft, light-footed and lively version offers raspberry, cherry and spice flavors, finishing with a haunting echo. Drink now through 2018.

2009 Vintage
Wine Advocate 91 Points
The Boedecker 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart displays cherry and red currant with high-toned aromatic intimations of their distilled essences, elements which most Oregon terroirists would call typical of the volcanic-based Dundee Hills soils and sites that (along with Wadenswil Pinot vines) dominate this cuvee. Just as in the corresponding Athena, though, a highly savory underlying carnal dimension - here resembling marrow-rich veal stock - stimulates the salivary glands, and a fine grain to the tannin suggests support without interference for at least another half dozen years. This finishes bright and juicy, with added lingering undertones of nut oils.

The affable and articulate husband-wife team of Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas moved from hi-tech to winemaking; pursued the latter for five years at the Carlton Wine Studio; then moved in 2008 to their own facility in Portland. The Boedecker regimen for consistently excellent Pinot involves - in addition to close and creative collaboration with just a few long-term suppliers - only a few days cold soak; spontaneous ferment; sparing pigeage and otherwise highly cautious extraction; but up to a week's post fermentative cap contact; and regular stirring of the lees in barrel, where all of the top wines remain for 19 months. Incidentally, there is a Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir from this cellar and I can't explain why the proprietors didn't choose to show it to me even though, for example, they showed me rose. A fascination from this cellar - to call it a curiosity would suggest too little respect - is that each partner arrives at his or her own barrel selection which is in turn bottled under his or her name, the latter Athena cuvee - which tends to originate more in sedimentary rather than eroded basaltic soils - being released later based in an impression that it remains both tighter and in a phase of primary fruitiness for longer.