The one thing that is predictable about fall in Oregon is that it is unpredictable and cool Septembers bring the most interesting wine. Sure we had early warm weather in April and May and appear to be headed for an early harvest. It is easy to think that way sitting here in Yamhill on August 6th at 93 degrees with the temperature in the middle of the vineyard about 2 degrees beyond that.
But that’s why we keep notes and looking back we were at about the same place at this time in 2007. We have just started veraison, or color change over the weekend. In 2007 on the 10th of August we were about 10% through color change. By the 24th of September we were sitting at between 23 and 24 degrees brix throughout the vineyard under beautiful clear skys. At that point we were just waiting for flavor development.
Then the sh*&% hit the fan and it started showering, heavy at times, right through harvest. Fortunately our steep slope, windy site and well drained soil served us well. With a little patience the 2007 wines developed into one of my favorite vintages. The wines started out lean and with 2 years of bottle age gained color, texture and beautiful aromatics. Unfortunately the vintage was overlooked by most of the press and many consumers. By the time the early revues were in, many decided to forgo the vintage and wait for the 2008 wines. The 2008 vintage was being hyped as one of the best ever just as the 2007 wines were being released. But two years down the road many of us learned something invaluable about cool Oregon vintages and how they respond in the bottle.
Or did we? The 2011 vintage seems to be heading down the exact same track. The wines are hard to understand at the moment because they are lean but they are changing rapidly and I suspect will provide a great deal of pleasure in the near future and be delicious with a couple of years in the bottle. I may even delay the release of my 2011 Lenné Estate and bring the 2012 out ahead of time.
So what will 2013 bring? Despite the early start, the weather as been average, temperate just what we like. Ask me about 2 days before harvest and I will give you a better answer. Who knows what September will bring. What I can tell you is that while fall in Oregon is unpredictable, the cooler vintages in Oregon produce some of the most nuanced, delicious wines if you have a little patience. But you already knew that. Or did you?