By now, everyone knows that the Willamette Valley is an amazing place to grow Pinot Noir. When Todd Alexander relocated from Napa Valley to partner up with Force Majeure Vineyards, he knew he also wanted to start a project where he could focus attention on a varietal and growing region that he loved. Part of the excitement of being in the Pacific Northwest is the ability to have access to so many amazing vineyards and so much diversity, along with the opportunity to push boundaries and try new things – something that is becoming increasingly difficult in other growing regions.
He partners up with a few very small, diverse and amazing vineyards in the Willamette Valley, sourcing fruit from these dry-farmed sites that emphasize low yields, sustainable practices and produce outstanding fruit.
The wines are crafted in the same way Todd has been making wine since he was carrying it out at Bryant Family Vineyard in the Napa Valley — utilizing very low-impact, non-industrial techniques, native yeasts, little extraction and little new oak, and never filtering or fining. This allows a real sense of place to show through in the wines that is often dimmed when too much manipulation is undertaken.
The first vintage was 2015, and was released in early 2017.
"I continue to love these Pinot Noirs under Todd Alexander’s Holocene label. While they’re not from Washington State, I was able to taste these during my visit with Force Majeure (which are also made by Todd) and I’m thrilled to be able to include them here." - Jeb Dunnuck (April 2020)
Holocene Apocrypha Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Apocrypha Pinot Noir tends to showcase the blue and black end of the fruit spectrum, along with a brambly, floral, dried sage and thyme profile, higher acid than the Memorialis and more power.
We tend to enjoy this wine with lamb merguez sausage and saffron rice.
"Coming from more volcanic, south-facing soils, the 2018 Pinot Noir Apocrypha was 15% destemmed and will see 16 months in 20% new barrels. It’s a slightly darker-hued and darker fruited effort offering lots of blue fruits, iron, violets, and mineral aromatics. While it was basically not destemmed, there are no obvious stems on either the nose or palate, and it’s beautifully balanced, has bright acidity, medium to full-bodied richness, and a great finish. It’s another rock star of a Pinot Noir from Todd Alexander."
- Jeb Dunnuck (April 2020), 94-96 pts
Holocene Memorialis Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Holocene Pinot Noir Memorialis is a blend of 777, Pommard and 115 clones from MonksGate vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and it saw about 20% new French oak for 16 months prior to bottling. It is always the lighter and more feminine of the two Holocene wines, with red fruits, white flowers, dried herbs, mushroom and forest floor aromatics, bright acidity and a lithe texture, long finish.
"Coming from a warmer than average year for Oregon, the 2018 Pinot Noir Memorialis comes from a west-facing hillside of sedimentary soils located in the heart of the Willamette Valley (not far from Beaux Freres and Shea Vineyard). All Pinot Noir that was 20% destemmed and brought up in 20% French oak, it shows a textured, incredibly elegant profile that has a perfectly integrated style, lots of raspberry and strawberry fruits, and classic Pinot Noir notes of dried flowers and spice. It should be approachable right out of the gate, yet given its balance, it should also evolve for 10-15 years." - Jeb Dunnuck (April 2020), 93-95 pts
Betz Family La Serenne Syrah is 100% Syrah
La Serenne is the most reflective of the site/vintage dynamic of our three single-site 2012 Syrahs. Lovers of this wine know that its source, the Boushey Vineyard, is the highest altitude of the three vineyards and is typically the latest harvested. This cool site was accentuated by the cooler season and the results reflect the seriousness of this vineyard and its care.
An extraordinary, nearly impenetrable black purple color leads to a concentrated, inky aromatic impression: smoky black cherry and wild blackberry dominate, but a litany of supporting aromas is already emerging: smoke, violet, mushroom, roasted meat, Chinese 5 spice and minerals. It has a full attack on entry and a big, rich mouthfeel that goes on and on.
2012 is our 13th harvest from this site and these rows. We continue to be impressed with the chameleon nature of this vineyard, in cool years and hot, in heat spikes and cool springs: it provides us with surprises and opportunities at every harvest. While the themes of deep black fruits and pliant structure always surface, the nuance of this vineyard and its care (thank you, Dick Boushey) make it some of the most satisfying fruit we work with every harvest.
"The pure, elegant and textured 2014 Syrah la Serenne offers that classic violet and floral characteristics of the cuvee, as well as medium to full-bodied richness, lots of black raspberry fruit, fine, sweet tannin and a great finish. It’s not as powerful or concentrated as the La Cote Rousse, yet it’s a joy to drink and will cruise for a decade or more on its balance and purity. - Jeb Dunnuck"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #225, June 2016), 93 pts
Michelet Courtaullt Chablis AOC is made from 100% Chardonnay, machine harvested at full maturity ; pneumatic press; fermentation in temperature controlledstainless steel tanks for 8-10 days; M.L (2 months after the harvest); aging on the lees until February; racking; fining if necessary; cold stabilization; filtration right before bottling in April.
Golden color. Very aromatic. White flowers, fresh fruit, lime, citrus aromas as well as a bergamot. Pleasant mouthfeel, supple, crisp, fruity flavors. There is a touch of acidity, revealing a deliciously integrated minerality.