White Rose 2011 Pinot Noir "The Neoclassical Objective" 750ml
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White Rose 2011 Pinot Noir "The Neoclassical Objective" 750ml

$87.89 (Inc. Taxes)
$76.43 (Ex. Taxes)
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Sourced from four sites, White Rose’s 2011 Pinot Noir displays a mulled-Pinot character – lightly cooked red currant and rhubarb with lovely brown spice and orange rind adjuncts – informing a relatively delicate and not especially deeply colored medium. Sanders explains that this generic bottling is an anomaly insofar as a significant share of fruit from the White Rose Vineyard itself is included, having been harvested November 7, and representing parcels or cluster that in his view were still not perfectly ripe. Some tasters will find the bittersweetness and tartness of citrus oils and rhubarb awkward, though I find their finishing influence bracing. I’m inclined, however, to recommend that one monitor this wine’s evolution carefully as it strikes me as a bit fragile and likely best enjoyed over the next couple of years.

Score: 88 points --

In writing for Issue 202 about Greg Sanders and his White Rose Vineyard (which lies just above Domaine Serene’s upper section and Domaine Drouhin) as well as the audacity of both his stylistic vision and his wine’s tannins, I must admit that I didn’t appreciate the half of that audacity. But having since spent a few hours at White Rock in the company of Sanders and his winemaker Jesus Guillen, I realize that the 23 year old White Rose Vineyard with its almost hop-like high trellising and huge wall of canopy (ostensibly conducing to later-harvest), along with inter-planting of the estate’s own selection massale intended to double vine density (provided the old Pommard vines don’t succumb to phylloxera); not to mention Sanders, who acquired the property in 2000, and whose preoccupation since 2004 with vendange entier has evolved into the notion that only wines rendered from whole clusters with stems can express what he calls “neo-classical Pinot Noir” or that grape’s ultimate virtues, are extreme and utterly unique even in a region with vineyards and vintners as diverse as the Willamette. Throw in an extreme vintage and you can well imagine before reading further that neither White Rose’s 2011s nor my comments on them will be without controversy. New wood is kept to 10% overall, the minimum considered necessary to insure a reasonable rotation of barrels. But while Sanders professes to maximize his sources of barrel so as to avoid any few sorts dominating the resulting wine, he isn’t a fan of spontaneous fermentation, and inoculates all of his musts – after anywhere from 3-7 days’ cold-soak – with an identical yeast culture. He claims to seek extraction from the stems as soon as possible into fermentation, but avoids punch-downs so as to retain the whole berries and minimize the influence of seeds. The 2011s were chaptalized – an estate first – to at least approach what Sanders calls his “magic number” of 13.5%, and certain lots were acidified to compensate for the relatively low ratio of tartaric to malic. Guillen reports both thicker skins and more lignified stems in 2011 than in 2010. But as Sanders is quick to point out, when it comes to his ostensibly top bottlings, the stems will go in virtually regardless of what nature has brought; astringency being viewed as a price of preservation, that will eventually integrate (“I find some green sexy”); and while the fruit gets tasted in assessing harvest dates, the stems are pretty much presumed to take care of themselves! Bottling is nearly always at 16 months. I can’t omit to mention that Sanders’ facilities themselves as well as each individual barrel are kept scrupulously spanking clean and cosmetically polished to a degree I can’t recall seeing outside certain prestigious Bordeaux Chateaux.

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