Illahe Pinot Noir 2021, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Illahe (ILL-uh-HEE) is a local word that has been used to describe ‘land’ for centuries in Oregon and the Northwest. The Chinook Jargon word appears from Canada to California, sometimes meaning ‘earth’ or ‘place’ or ‘soil’. It is comparable to the French word terroir, and, in a sense, is the Northwests word for terroir. Illahe Vineyard was first planted in 2001 with 22 acres of Pinot Noir. Today it is a 52-acre vineyard with seven varieties and over 40 acres of Pinot Noir. Illahe Vineyard is planted on a south-facing slope. The slope ranges from about 4% near the bottom to over 20% near the top. The top of the vineyard is at 480 feet elevation, and the bottom 250. The variety of soils on the property give the wine complexity. The overall character of the soil is that of Willakenzie-type sedimentary clay. The specific types include bellpine, wellsdale, dupee, and patches of jory. These types depend on soil depth and composition, which is mostly clay, silt, and loam. The aromas of the 2021 Illahe Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir begin with strawberry, tamarind, and blackberry then broaden along the palate to include chalk, tobacco leaf, chocolate, and earth. The acid supports a complete yet not overwhelming tannin balanced between skin and oak. The wine retains its velvet mouthfeel through a process of clarification by racking.