We broke a record in 2014 for days above 90 degrees and in the middle of the vintage I imagined we were headed for 2009 all over again. But the two vintages couldn't be further apart. The wines from 2014 are structured more like wines from a moderate vintage, even somewhat like 2008. The 2008 vintage was and epic vintage in Oregon, with a long, moderate growing season and a perfect fruit set. The weather in 2008 was nothing like the warm weather in 2014. It is astonishing that these wines resemble each other.
I think of the 2014 vintage in Oregon as the poor man's version of 2008. The 2008 wines still have loads of structure and after a period of several years where the wines closed up, the Pinot Noirs from this vintage are starting to show what the hype was all about. They are fruit driven, structured wines, still not supple, but complex and heading towards a long life. I would still hold off a few years to drink these beauties but they will more than satisfy you now.
It is remarkable that I would talk about the similarities, with respect to the wine, from these very different vintages. The key to understanding vintages is not just about what happened with the weather, but also what happened with the fruit set. In 2008, the set was beautiful, with even, small berried clusters with thick skins. The resulting moderate growing season produced fruit driven(at least until we bottled them then it hid for a couple of years) wines with plenty of fine grained tannins and low ph's.
The hot 2014 vintage produced one of the largest crops ever which saved the vintage. In 2014 we had an early bud break and a huge, uniform fruit set. The berries were not quite as small as 2008 and not as thick skinned, but not far off. There was no reason to drop fruit in an early, warm vintage so we let most of it hang. The result is the plants ripened the fruit at a moderate pace because of the huge volume. Typically we expect high alcohol wines with higher ph levels and lower acidity. But in 2014 we got neither. Instead we produced wines that have good acidity, plenty of fruit and good tannin levels.
While the 2014 wines may not live as long as the 2008 wines, they may prove to be nearly as good. Who would have thunk it on one of those 95 degree days.