2017 Johan Vineyards ‘Farmlands’ Pinot Noir 00
Region: Willamette Valley < Oregon
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Demeter certified biodynamic farming; basalt soils with Missoula flood deposits as topsoil; some whole cluster but mostly destemmed; fermented and aged in used barrel; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; 13.2% ABV; 42 cases
Winemaker: Dan Rinke
This is certified biodynamic wine from a gorgeous, meticulously farmed vineyard – a great intro to Oregon pinot and no-added-sulfur wine! Willamette Valley’s Johan Vineyards is one of the earliest and most respected biodynamic growers in the region, having started conversion in 2007 -- Dan Rinke’s first order of business when he came on as winemaker. Dan had been a firm believer in biodynamics since the 90’s, and the owners of Johan were game. Biodynamic farming has a bunch of different components, but for them, it boils down to viewing the vineyard as a single organism and placing equal focus on every aspect of the process, from the vines themselves all the way down to the soil and its microbial ecology. They sell most of their fruit to local wineries, but make a small amount of their own, under both the Johan Vineyards label and the Farmlands label (all from fruit from the home vineyard, not purchased fruit as with many second labels). Dan says, “we made Farmlands to emphasize the fact that we are farmers first. I farm 76 acres of grapes at Johan and we sell 60% of the fruit to 22 different wineries.”
They make a regular Farmlands Pinot, which has a little added sulfur, and this no-added-sulfur cuvee. When asked which one he prefers, Dan goes 00 without hesitation, saying without the added sulfur, even a small amount, the wine itself is so much purer. And how did they end up making the same wine with and without sulfur? Well, we have my friend Wolfgang Weber, the wine’s distributor and a natural winemaker himself, to thank. He explains, “we were up there last January as a full team from Revel for a visit to Johan and after tasting the wines in bottle, Dan started pulling some barrel samples, one of which was a block of pinot that hadn’t yet had a sulfur add. The wine was delicious and fresh, and all that I wanted to drink. I also kept going back to that glass during our visit and was impressed with how the wine maintained that freshness. I asked Dan if he could fill a bottle for me to drink later, followed by asking if he could bottle a barrel or two without sulfur for us to sell in California. All through the vintage and before bottling they just kept calling it the “Wolfgang Wine”, which I thought was hilarious.” This wine is tart and juicy and PG-rated wild, like a romp in a raspberry forest, a quick roll on the forest floor, a little skunk on the nose, but all in all, really wholesome at the core. Best bang for the buck Pinot around.
Note: we are also featuring their regular Farmlands Pinot this month, which sees a very small (25ppm) addition of So2 8 weeks before bottling. Fun experiment: try them both side by side to see for yourself the how added So2 changes a wine!