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Our intent with the Mark's series is to craft the vineyard's boldest Pinot Noir, using as much new oak as the vintage can support and preserving the balance and elegance. In 2007, the wine was aged in 51% new French oak barrels for 11 months. The fruit was drawn from the two blocks with the heaviest flavors and aromatics in this vintage: Pommard and Dijon 777, and only from reserve rows cropped to 1.5 tons to the acre. The outcome is a full-bodied, aromatic wine with the ability to cellar. Named for our son Mark, the Roman numeral denotes this vintage’s place in the series. Only 70 cases produced.
The 2007 Vintage: Snow in April and late bud break set the tone for a cool growing season, but summer rainfall was low which kept the vines on track. Cool rains at Harvest might have derailed earlier vintages, but advances in viticulture and continuous attention to the vineyard for the previous 11 months paid big dividends. The resulting wines are elegant, higher in acid, lower in sugars and alcohols. In the hands of experienced winemakers, this vintage truly shines.
UPDATED following tasting of 2011 wines: 93 POINTS Wine Advocate, October 2013 Tasted along with the estate’s 2011s, Anam Cara’s 2007 Pinot Noir Mark II utterly belies its origins in “the vintage from hell.” The seeming near-miracle here begins with the wine’s healthy, deep color, because Sheila Nicholas swears “it was all gained in bottle; at the beginning this looked as light as our 2011s do now.” An utterly fascinating nose of black tea, kelp, and lightly cooked dark berries leads into a sappy, improbably energetic palate that features invigorating and incisive impingements of cardamom and black pepper along with an uncanny evocation of sweet, saline, iodine-inflected steamed blue crab with bay seasoning. (Your metaphor may differ.) Finishing with superb, mouthwatering and downright exhilarating length, this is mind-bending in the context of its vintage, not to mention profoundly delicious. I suspect it will continue to generously reward tasters for at least 2-3 more years. Nick and Sheila Nicholas – for much more about whom and about whose Chehalem Mountains estate consult my Issue 202 introduction – did not pick their 2011 vintage Pinots until early November, and even then at must weights that resulted in low-mid 12s in alcoholic percentage and a lightness of color and carriage that some tasters might find off-putting. I found the results delightfully distinctive. A highly memorable 2007 – indeed, the sort of wine that has a profound influence on one’s thinking about early vintage assessments as well as the bottle evolution of Pinot Noir generally – concluded the outstanding line-up of Anam Cara 2011s that I tasted this July. Taken together, these wines taught me a great deal more respect and admiration for this estate.