Ribbon Ridge Vertical Library Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Tasting 2003-2018

Thursday, January 20, 2022 - 07:30 PM

This Event has been read: 1077 times.


"It's a hard grape to grow. As you know. Right? It's, uh, it's thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It's, you know, it's not a survivor like cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it's neglected. No, pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And, in fact, it can only grow in these really specific, little tucked-away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression."

Miles - Sideways

I remember my trip to Oregon in the summer of 1994 for the IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration) this is one of the best wine parties that I have ever attended. The festival is limited to 500 attendees as it is hosted by McMinnville College and that is all they can accommodate in their lecture facilities. I remember not only were the quality of the wines at the highest level but the people in attendance were some of the most passionate Pinot Noir lovers that I had ever come across. And although winemaking began in the 19th century in this state it is only recently that its potential has been recognized by the rest of the world.

It was in 1979 when serious wine producers started to look at the potential of this area as Eyrie Vineyards' 1975 South Block Pinot Noir placed in the top 10 of Burgundy-style wines at the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, and was rated the top Pinot Noir. This send the news around the wine world and shortly after Robert Drouhin, head of Burgundy's legendary Maison Joseph Drouhin, was visiting America's west coast promoting the Drouhin Burgundies. The California wine industry was just starting to receive its first recognition back then, but there was little if anything going on in Oregon. Robert's first visit to the Northwest and its earliest vineyards left him with the impression that it quite possibly would be Oregon, not California, that would ultimately prove to be the best place to grow the great grape of Burgundy - Pinot noir.

Inspired by his trip to Oregon and the results of 1979 tasting that was held in Paris, where, for the first time, the best new Oregon Pinot noirs were tasted in competition with the finest Burgundies. Robert decided to hold his own blind tasting in 1980 at the Drouhin cellars in France, with several of the best Oregon Pinot noirs going up against the finest Drouhin Grand Crus. It was a Drouhin Grand Cru that took first place this time, but an Oregon wine (the now legendary 1975 Eyrie Vineyards South Block) placed 2nd by a very narrow margin with the French experts. News of this tasting brought the first widespread international attention to Oregon Pinot noir.

After a few years’ time Robert's daughter Véronique just graduated with an advanced degree in enology from the University of Dijon, and wanted to expand her experience by working in Oregon. Véronique interned with Adelsheim Vineyards, Bethel Heights, and Eyrie for the 1986 vintage. Later on, Robert mentioned to David Adelsheim that it might be interesting to buy a piece of land in Oregon, to see what it might produce. What started as a passing thought began its transformation into reality when Adelsheim phoned the Drouhins in Beaune not long thereafter to tell them of a property that was for sale that they might be interested in. The rest is history and with one of Burgundies foremost wine producing families moving to Oregon the writing was on the wall that this wine producing region would soon get its much deserved recognition as one of the world's premier Pinot Noir growing regions.

Today, the state of Oregon in the United States has established an international reputation for its production of wine. Oregon has several different growing regions within the state's borders which are well-suited to the cultivation of grapes; additional regions straddle the border between Oregon and the states of Washington and Idaho. Wine making dates back to pioneer times in the 1840s, with commercial production beginning in the 1960s.

Currently there are over 700 wineries in Oregon and a bustling tourism industry has developed around wine tasting. Much of the tourism focuses on the wineries and tasting rooms in and around the Yamhill Valley southwest of Portland.

We are doing scientific research with wine here at Wine Watch so when our friends from Ribbon Ridge Vineyard called up and gave us the opportunity to host a tasting featuring the last 16 vintages from one of the top vineyard sites with our good friend Harry Peterson-Nedry, I was very excited especially because Harry was planning a visit in person!!

Even though we just found out that Harry also has cancelled his plans to travel, the show must go on here at Wine Watch and we will just have to settle for having Harry here on a zoom call this evening as the wines are already here and we cannot wait!! 

Join us as we taste an incredible line-up of Ribbon Ridge wines from the last 16 vintages along with our virtual host Harry Peterson-Nedry. The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $195 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com.



See the source image Wine Review Online - Q & A: Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem Winery

Ribbon Ridge Vertical Library Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Tasting 2003-2018
Thursday, January 20, 2022
7:30 PM

2003 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2004 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2005 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2006 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2007 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2008 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2009 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2010 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2011 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2012 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2013 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2014 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2015 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2016 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2017 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
2018 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Selection of Cheese and Charcuterie
Grilled Mozzarella wrapped in Prosciutto with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette
Blueberry BBQ Pork Belly served over creamy grits
Crispy Duck Breast with Cranberry Maple Glaze Cardamum Sweet potato Mash
Strawberry Tarte with Epoisses

The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $195 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com.


A bit about Ribbon Ridge Vineyard:

Two people holding wine glasses  Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Ribbon Ridge Vineyard is a small gem of a vineyard in the heart of Yamhill County’s Ribbon Ridge American Viticultural Area (AVA). Officially founded in 2000 by Dewey and Robin Kelly, it is the realization of a dream that first took shape in 1978 when they purchased the land and named the Ribbon Ridge Vineyard site.  The first grapes were planted in 2001 and the first wines from Ribbon Ridge Vineyard were released in 2003 to critical acclaim.

The Ribbon Ridge Vineyard story started in 1978 when Robin Webster and Dewey Kelly purchased 41 acres for a vineyard in what would become the Ribbon Ridge AVA. They were married at the site the same year. Twenty-two years later, they realized their long-held dream and planted nine acres of Pinot noir.  In 2003, they had their first harvest and produced the first Ribbon Ridge Vineyard wines.

Dewey and Robin have been active in the Oregon food and wine industry for nearly 40 years. In 2017, Robin retired from her position as executive chef at the Racquet Club in Portland, a position she had held since 1981. She traded in her commercial kitchen for RRV’s wood-fired oven and parrilla grill and continues her tradition of creating wine-friendly cuisine.

After ten years in the restaurant business in Oregon, as a chef, manager, and consultant, Dewey spent the next twenty-something years in international marketing and product management roles with several small software companies. During that time, he continued to teach cooking classes and publish food and wine-related articles while overseeing the development of the vineyard and property.

Today, we continue to farm the nine acres and produce a limited amount of wine under the Ribbon Ridge Vineyard label. After a few unfortunate run-ins between Dewey, the tractor and the trellis, we now leave vineyard operations to the experts at Results Partners, LLC and focus on wine production and the pairing of our wines with Robin’s culinary treats.

The Vineyard page contains detailed information about the vineyard and our farming practices; the Our Wines page contains descriptions of RRV wines currently available along with information about our wine-making process. Due to our extremely limited production, Ribbon Ridge Vineyard wines are difficult to find. The majority of our production is sold directly to consumers through events, the website or our wine club.

A breakdown of the Vintages:

2019: 2019 was an old school Willamette Valley Harvest: watching weather reports, valuing coffee
over beer, charging bird cannon batteries, and consoling old friends newly moved to Oregon from
California. Chats, waiting to offload an ancient truck’s fruit, were punctuated by “cool growing
season, early rains, hang time, sugar, birds, electric sunset, botrytis, more birds, sunny days
are overrated anyway...”
Despite an old-school vintage, the concentration, depth of flavor, color and structure of recent
years all seem to be there. And the old is new again!

2018: We kind of cruised into the 2018 harvest, after an early bud break and bloom, a comfortably
warm spring, and those precious, cool, summer evenings that make our eyes light up. The stellar
prospect of the vintage was heightened by a “cool” final ripening compared most of the previous
five. Perfectly ripe, but not overly so. Zero disease pressure, thanks to coastal and ridge-top
breezes and the absence of rain. Rich flavors with an edge of restraint, combined with the lift of
gentle acidity. Textbook perfect from our vantage, and worthy of all the hype.

2017: I’ll lead with the same line as last time, “The warmest vintages we’ve ever seen in the
Willamette Valley over 50+ years are the last five. Period.” It can’t be overstated. By October 4th
we’d already seen 2445 degree-days, within a chip shot of Region 2’s lower boundary of 2500
This year we caught up to a late start with hot-hot-hot! Extremes in 2017 saw more days over 80F,
at 86, than any year except 2015, the record-hot year so far, and more days over 90F, at 32, than
we’ve ever seen. Harvest 2017 happened when it traditionally has, beginning the last week or so
of September and lasting until the first few days of November. Timing is reassuring since last year’s
harvest began in August—freakily early. At first, 2017 looked like an extreme opposite to 2016,
with very late budbreak and bloom, following a wet rainy season where 150% of average rainfall
filled soils. However, abnormally warm and dry months then took over. Very high temperatures this
year were the norm, with no other year showing more days over-90F days and only 2015 having
more days above-80F. Harvest timing was similar to the old days of cool climate harvests in the
Willamette Valley—the only difference being the intensely hot summer preceding it. The heat gave
full ripeness to the fruit, despite a large crop load and a plodding start to the growing season. A bit
more rain fell this year, but September’s 2.06 inches had only a refreshing impact, especially since
it was spread over 11 days. The rain coincided with cooling weather, seeing 67F average highs
over the last 10 days, compared to the prior two weeks’ 87F. Since harvest began September
17th, low temperatures averaged 47F, with a high-low diurnal swing of 27F, which means acid
brightness was well retained.
Implications are a large crop load, pristine fruit quality, fully mature flavors and phenological
parameters, softer acids urging earlier harvest despite pH and sugars saying “don’t pick yet.”
Although I may be thinking too highly, 2017 reminds me of 1994 and 2008, based on
concentration and spherical focus. The harvest timing being normal is a big plus and the industry’s
ongoing education on how to adapt to a warmer/changed climate makes each vintage more-andmore sophisticated, age-worthy and complex.

2016: This is the year of Earliest Ever. The winter was warm, budbreak was early and 2016 never
looked back—bloom, veraison, and harvest all early records, beginning harvest in August and
done before October. Although early, the growing season wasn’t as hot as the prior three, but still
in the same new, warm norm. Fruit is fully ripe but not overripe, with moderate alcohols, good
enough acids and intense, easily extracted, dense wines, from 15% smaller berry sizes and yields.
Potentially an excellent-to-classic vintage. Finally dialed back a little from the 2014-2015 twins.

2015: Here, have a cigar! We just had twins, one year apart. The 2015 vintage was slightly different
in early growing season timing from 2014, but the final effect was the same, with big heat, big crop
and big expectations. The acids are down, the alcohols are slightly over 14% on average and the
work many did to minimize over-extraction resulted in more elegant wines than a hot vintage
deserves. Similar to 2014. Also as in 2014, the fruit was impeccably clean and devoid of disease,
with only a little sunburn being tossed from the sorting conveyor. Whites again look fully ripe,
texturally rich, and yet balanced. Pinot noirs will rival 2014 for rave reviews.

2014: 2014 was one of those rare vintages that got everyone excited—writers and winemakers
love the quality, grape growers had no handwringing to do and yields pleased bankers, which also
means customers will see reasonable prices! Wine quality is excellent, based on full ripeness,
probably the cleanest fruit we’ve seen in decades, and restrained extractions in fermentation to
compensate for the warmest growing season on record assure balance. Despite the warmth of
over 2800 degree days, driven by many very hot summer days (almost double the over 90F highs
we’ve recently seen at 29) and warmer lows, good cropload balance and harvest timing gave
reasonable alcohols, averaging just under 14%. Whites are lush and gorgeously fruited. Pinot noir
colors are appropriately rich but not too deep, wines not tannic or over-extracted.

2013: A Tale of Two Harvests—one very early and one normal, with rain in between. They started
as one very early harvest thanks to a very consistent, warm growing season, the warmest on record
up to final ripening mid-September. An unanticipated 30-year rain event of 5″ then appeared the last
days of September, made of remnants from a typhoon that had hit Japan days before, ushering in
a spate of cool weather, interrupting the season, slowing ripening and turning it into two discrete
picks, with early Pinot noir ferments already in barrel before remaining grapes were ripe and picked!
Although grapes ripe during the rain were vulnerable to botrytis, earlier and later picks showed very
good quality, with many considering the coolness and longer hang-time a big benefit, preserving
acidity and flavors, while minimizing alcohol. Color, texture, balance and acidity on the whole were
good for the vintage. Croploads were moderate to high, except for blocks and varieties lost to the

2012: This was a uniformly excellent vintage in the Willamette Valley, moreso than the past few years
where some winemakers read it well and others may not have. The weather was storybook, almost
entirely positive, with the Grinch of hail in one or two localized sites proving we’re as vulnerable as
Burgundy. The heat accumulations are the 5th highest in the last 16 years, putting ripeness in the
league with 2004 and 1998. The perfectly warm and completely dry growing and ripening seasons
kept disease away and pushed full ripeness without sacrificing acid structure.

2011: Yes, 2011 is THE latest harvest on our records. Three weeks late, picking some of our
blocks as late as the second week of November, one would think the cards were stacked against
us. However, considering three positive aspects from the vintage; 1) late season sun, 2) lower
yields, and 3) below average rainfall - we’re seeing one of the best vintages of the last twenty
years emerge. Resulting wines are fully ripe, rich, deep, dark AND carry low pHs/high acids and
low alcohols, which bodes exceptionally well for long aging, food friendliness and a reputation that
makes similar years, like 1999 and 2008, humble!

2010: This vintage is one of the Global Climate Change extremes, very cool, late and, at the end,
wet. Very early warmth at bud break, cool and wet Springtime weather, a cool growing season
RR | Age-worthy wines from the first vines planted on Ribbon Ridge. | rrwines.com | @rrwines
RIDGECREST | A Dad, a Daughter, and a Hill. | ridgecrestwines.com | @ridgecrestwines
with the least heat we've seen in this 40 year industry, followed by a ripening that was Indian
Summer-like for awhile, then bringing a wet two-week late harvest. Very low pHs, higher acids and
lower alcohols promise great, long-lived, balanced wines.

2009: The 2009 vintage may be one of the best, with nice balance in all ways for both reds and
whites—very good quality and yields as well as good ripeness and acids. The closest vintage in
memory might be 2002. It was the type of vintage to satisfy winemakers AND accountants, with
yields in the 2.5–3 tons/acre average this year, compared to 2–2.5 in normal years, and with high
quality demanding only patience awaiting flavor development. Fruitfulness caused some problems
early on, with large berries and full clusters pushing off berries in the cluster, allowing earlyharvested
blocks to develop botrytis and require sorting. Later blocks were pristine and, assuming
patience (and if nothing else, we’re patient!) to await flavor development rather than picking on
simple analytical numbers like TA and brix, will be as good as any wines we’ve made, especially for
Pinot Noir.

2008: The 2008 vintage saw one of the coolest growing seasons on record, with 1,976
degreedays of heat during the growing season, versus the average for the last twelve years of
2,212 degree-days, and second only to 1,968 degree-days in 1999. This vintage resembles
1999 in the counterintuitive ripeness of the crop we finally harvested, and both vintages showed
very good acid levels and excellent, full ripeness at lower sugars. Look for both whites and reds to
excel this year, with very ageable wines, rich and complex from release to old age. Lower
croploads, almost half-crop in nature, also similar to 1999, brought some of this richness, with
harvest dates that were two-plus weeks later than average but not experiencing significant rainfall.

2007: In summary, we think this may be a fantastic white vintage and a surprisingly good red
vintage, despite the rain that many times might lead to less intense wines. With rain in the range of
2005 and much less than the last really rainy harvest season of 1997, most winemakers in the
valley knew how to adapt and took advantage of the vintage’s attributes, such as lower sugars
(and therefore alcohols) and higher acids. As long as botrytis is kept from reds or sorted out, and
winemaking sleight of hand provides physical therapy for the intensity shortcomings, such as
saignée, tannin adds, chaptalization, and acidulation, the vintage will have stellar wines, just with
more variability. Buy whites in general, buy reds from trusted names.

2006: I have the highest regard for the Pinot Noirs in barrel, not having seen better fruit EVER from
selected blocks or vineyards, including 22 harvests from Ridgecrest! The reds should be held to
high expectations. The whites are the surprise, since a very warm vintage often blunts the acid,
raises alcohol to unbalance the wine, and softens the fruit to soft and fleshy. Not so in 2006. The
Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc are crisp, bright, and scintillating in fruit aromas
and complex in spice and fruit flavors. The warmth that came during the growing season abated
before most fruit seriously began ripening, with cooler days and, especially important, acid-saving
nights giving finesse to the wines. Appealing early, they should age respectably, too. Color me

2005: 2005 was an old-style Oregon vintage, warming the cockles of the hearts of industry old
folks like me as much as the coffee we drank. Cooler and damper than the average modern
vintage, mature winemakers and mature vineyards understood and adjusted to the weather,
giving the grapes a chance to fully ripen and working magic to assure clean fruit. Experience
should show with our three classic estate vineyards. Great extraction, great acid, lower alcohols
(no Pinots above the 13%s!) — expect wines of finesse and ageability.

2004: What a difference some rain makes! Vintage 2004 was destined to be equally hot and ripe
as 2003, until we had a quenching rain in late August and then a month later. Young and early
vineyards that were almost ready to harvest the first week of September could have done without
the rain, but the rest (like Chehalem's) thought it a blessed relief. A short cropload, plus growing

2003: This is an excellent vintage, albeit unusual in the fiery nature of the growing season. The
same dry and warm growing and ripening seasons held for 2003 as with the past few vintages,
only moreso, with Region II (not cool climate!) heat accumulations of 2500 units, average highs
of 78F July-October and half the normal rainfall with 2.75 inches. Fruit was disease free, crop
loads were easily honed to desired levels, and soil moisture was adequate due to good preseason winter rains.
Concerns of the vintage center on high sugars and resultant high alcohols, and low acids. Almost comparable past vintages like excellent 1992 may urge us not to worry.