Hello Oregon Pinot fans,
You hear talk of transparency in Pinot noir, of Pinot’s ability to express and reflect a vintage better than any other grape. Today’s wine takes that a step further: it captures a moment in time more than it captures a vintage. It may never be made again. And it’s available exclusively through us.
Made from the oldest block in Longplay’s Lia’s Vineyard, just 1.4 acres of 21+ year-old Wadenswil clone Pinot noir. The block is damaged by the root-eating louse phylloxera but seemed to cosmically co-exist with the 2011 vintage to yield a mere 72 cases of unique, powerfully memorable Pinot.
Longplay’s Hi-Tone Pinot noir 2011 immediately excited us. Andy and I were thinking the same thing…I could tell. We rarely (if ever) discuss those types of decisions in front of winemakers, preferring to deliberate when we can speak entirely freely. But as soon as owner Todd Hansen left the shop, we laughed out loud saying, “ah, yeeaah, we need to buy that.”
Possessing great depth and character, Hi-Tone shows off Indian-spice accented black raspberry and blueberry notes with a sappy yet vibrant palate. Cola and gingerbread accents round out a positively special Pinot.
There will be future special bottlings from Longplay, but will there be a Hi-Tone? Todd says, “I’m hoping to get a Hi-Tone again, maybe 2014, but as Bob Dylan (reportedly) once said, ‘Sometimes you are in the room with a song and sometimes the song is in the room with you.’”
Longplay Hi-Tone Pinot noir 2011
$40.45 in any 12 bottle or Build a Case* order ($44.95 regular)
92 points Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “…Vibrant and incisive Pinot in the manner of the vintage, but with a measure of depth and power that’s missing in most ’11s. Closes sweet and very long, with resonating spiciness and soft, even tannins.” – Josh Raynolds
More on Hi-Tone from Longplay owner Todd Hansen: “Our special ‘Hi-Tone’ bottling comes from the oldest block in Lia’s Vineyard, which shows some damage from phylloxera. I’ve debated pulling it out and replanting as it struggles to produce a full crop. In 2011, it seems to have completed a hail Mary pass winning a stay of execution. The vintage was cool and late – this actually served to benefit the vines by reducing the amount of stress that can occur in hotter years when the vines are trying to strike a balance between moisture preservation and fruit development. Additionally, the block is closest to my workshop, so it seems to receive a disproportionate amount of attention compared to other blocks. I hand hoe the weeds and keep it meticulously hedged. I’m also very obsessive about shoot positioning and adjusting crop load to match each individual vine’s capacity. The block’s location at about 500 feet affords exposure to afternoon breezes that help keep berry size small and reduce the risk of botrytis.
We picked the fruit on November 1st, and fermented it separately. We didn’t have great expectations for the wine given the rather unhealthy appearance of several vines in the block – the fruit was among the ripest from our vineyard that vintage but there was a bit of variability in the block with some vines ahead of others. In retrospect, this likely lends complexity to the wine and helps it avoid exhibiting the monolithic character that can make single-block fermentations seem a bit simple. Shortly after racking, my winemaker, Jay Somers, and I were both amazed by this wine and its beguiling complexity. We de-stemmed the fruit 100 percent, but it has a floral, sappy quality that is often associated with whole-cluster fermentations. My sense is the skin tannins from the small berries exposed to the wind impart this character. During blending trials in the cellar we quickly noted that the uniqueness of this wine was lost immediately with any blending. The wine spent 10+ months in three French oak barrels. None of the barrels were new, but there was one second-fill Billon medium toast Allier 3 year aged barrel that adds a hint of chocolate to the wine. The ethereal finish lingers impressively. I named it ‘Hi-Tone’ because of the feminine high notes that distinguished this wine. We bottled 72 cases on October 3, 2012.”