written by Tamara Belgard | featured photo by Tamara Belgard
One of the most entrancing and simultaneously perplexing things about wine is how every year it can be entirely different, depending on what Mother Nature delivers. A very hot growing season will result in a wine with higher sugar levels, while a cold year will produce unripe fruit. A rainy season could bring about undesirable mold mildew. A dry season (in a vineyard with no irrigation) could result in shriveled and undeveloped grapes. As knowledgeable consumers come to expect certain flavors from their favorite wineries, one of the winemaker’s many challenges is to bring a level of consistency to each vintage, no matter what the weather brings.
When I open a bottle, I often try to recall what was happening that year—in the world at large, in my own life and in wine country. It’s a good diving board for reflection. I remember 2013 as a particularly warm season with a seemingly endless summer. In fact, record-breaking temperatures in May resulted in an early budbreak (the initiation of bud growth). Long, hot, sun-filled days continued right through to harvest; which is when everything changed. In the month of September, right as the grapes indicated they were just about ready to be picked, it was as if someone unzipped a bag of darkness. Ominous clouds and a deluge of rain began and didn’t stop for weeks. Winemakers were forced to make quick decisions; either let the fruit hang on the vine, hoping to ride out the storm, or scramble to pick before the grapes became swollen with water that would create diluted wines, or worse, get taken over by mold and mildew.
In the industry, this phenomenon is referred to as a “winemaker’s vintage”—one where producing great wines is the direct result of decisions the winemaker makes at harvest, not necessarily what is done in the cellar. Some chalk it up to experience, some just luck, but it is clear that some winemakers have a gift for producing beauty in the bottle, no matter what the weather delivers. The following red wines showcase the Oregon’s 2013 vintage.
2013 Walter Scott Pinot Noir (Cuvée Ruth Willamette Valley) – Savor the dominant fruit flavors of lush red cherry and raspberry, while noting the backbone of cola and licorice. This stunning wine possesses as much strength as it does finesse, both on the nose and the palate.
2013 Vincent Pinot Noir (Bjornson Vineyard) – Perfectly integrated with harmonious flavors of juicy red raspberries, subtle earthiness, delicate rose petals and mouth-watering acidity. It’s a classic and beautiful expression of pinot noir.
2013 Ayers Perspective Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge) – Sweet, tart and gorgeous—like a delectable strawberry rhubarb pie. Tastes of fruit, mushrooms and spicy pepper linger long on your tongue.
2013 Swick Wines Pinot Noir (Yamhill Carlton) – Light and lovely, this wine shows a soft but clear presence of strawberries, raspberries, salty cured meat, cinnamon spice and white tea. The flavors are complex and well integrated while not being overpowering.
2013 Maison L’Envoye Two Messengers Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) – Dominated by blackberries, cranberries, cedar, and white pepper, this affordable Oregon pinot is both fun and easy to drink.
2013 Panther Creek Pinot Noir (Schindler Vineyard) – The deep, dark ruby color initially catches your attention, but it’s the lovely progression from earth to fruit to spice that holds your attention.
2013 Raptor Ridge Tempranillo (Rogue Valley) – Straightforward and quaffable, this wine has notes of sweet blueberries, pie spices and a hint of smokiness that screams, “Pair me with barbeque!”
2013 Leah Jorgensen Cellars Cabernet Franc (Rogue Valley) – This bright and robust wine is as flirtatious as it is charming. A wine of both interest and character; the perfumed aromas of black plum, currants, violets and smoky tobacco will positively captivate you.