Wine Article

2005 Bishop Creek Cellars Pinot Noir Valois Reserve

Last edited on 10/22/2008 by fingers
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This marks the debut of a very special wine, the Valois Reserve (pronounced val-wah). This is a blend of the 5 very best barrels in the cellar and represents the pinnacle of Pinot Noir expression from the Bishop Creek Vineyard in 2005. A dense wine, the Valois will not be revealing all it has to offer for at least another year or two, but if you cannot resist, open it and decant the wine before you drink it. The nose shows dark brooding fruit over dense earth notes and subtle oak spice. While the aromatics are not explosive yet, there is no mistaking the concentration. The palate layers dark fruits of black cherry and blackberry, exotic spices, red earth, loads of texture, and a very firm tannic structure. This rich, dense wine will slowly evolve into a stunning beauty . In order to highlight complexity, a number of winemaking changes were instituted in 2005. We picked each section of the vineyard separately and each lot was fermented individually in small 1.25 ton fermenters. Naturally occurring cold soaks of up to 8 days ensured good concentration and all ferments used indigenous yeasts. Caps were punched down twice daily for the majority of fermentation, slowing to once daily as the wines approached dryness. Racked to primarily neutral barrels, and only about 15% new barrels, the wines went through malolactic fermentation, and rested undisturbed until being racked just once more prior to bottling in early September, eleven months later. The 2005 growing season in the Willamette Valley was, yet again, a unique set of challenges. After beautiful early spring weather, we were deluged with heavy rain during bloom. Because of this, pollination was impeded and a poor fruit set resulted in a very small crop. However, after that first soaking we were rewarded with a near perfect summer and early fall. Warm days and cold nights in late August and early September provided great flavor maturity, while restraining sugar levels. A fit of poor weather as the grapes approached readiness required some patience before picking, but it was patience well rewarded. The resulting wines have a sleek elegance and the compact structure of dancers rather than the lush muscularity of the 2003 or 2004 vintages.
Location: 2 miles north of the town of Yamhill, in North
Willamette Valley, Yamhill County, Oregon.
Acreage: 15 of 66 acres currently planted: 12 of Pinot
noir, 3 of Pinot gris, and a small new block of Pinot
blanc. Tight spacing, mostly 5’x5’.
Year Planted: The main vineyard in 1988, and the Pinot
Gris in 1995
Soil Type: Willakenzie
Elevation: 300-700 feet
AVA: Yamhill-Carlton District

From producer website: So if you had blue blood running through your veins, were part of a monarchy that stretched from what is now the Netherlands to Burgundy, and had time on your hands, you’d probably want the finest wine possible for your friends and court, wouldn’t you? Of course you would, and four generations of Valois royals, known as the Dukes of Burgundy, made sure they did too.

Indeed, wine historians credit these royals with an explicit strategy to associate the Burgundy region (a regal state of its own at the time) with superb pinot noir wines. Beginning in 1395, Philip The Bold, the first such Duke, issued a bold edict that the “vile and noxious” gamay vines should be uprooted from the Côte d’Or in favor of the more “elegant” pinot noir.

Sixty years later, Philip The Good was still railing against the planting of gamay grapes, which had finally been limited to Beaujolais, but which were still preferred by growers who cared foremost for productivity and less for quality. “The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in Christendom,” he insisted. “We will maintain our reputation.”

In homage to the noble lineage of these dukes from the House of Valois – and their unwavering passion for the best wine that could be created – we too strive to produce the best wines from Oregon's Willamette Valley, pinot noir’s undisputed duchy in the New World.

We lack the tools of royal fiat, so instead we nurture, coddle and cajole the fickle pinot noir grape, with the same dedication as they do in Burgundy, and we produce our wine in small, handcrafted lots. When those efforts serendipitously result in a few barrels of uncommon quality, we label it Bishop Creek Valois Reserve.