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Lenné Estate

During my recent visit with Steve Lutz, the owner, manager and vineyardist behind Lenné Estate in the Yamhill- Carlton AVA, we tasted through the lineup of 2012 vintage Pinot Noirs side-by-side. Established in 2002, the Lenné Estate’s 20.9-acre vineyard is ideally situated among many famous neighboring estates such as WillaKenzie Estate, Shea Wine Cellars & Vineyard, Solena (recently acquired by Kendall-Jackson), and Saffron-Fields Vineyard.

The vineyard is entirely Pinot Noir, planted to clones 115, Pommard, 114 and 777 in 2001, additional Pommard in 2003 and additional 114 and 777 in 2004. Soils are primarily Peavine with some Willakenzie. Elevation is 375-575 feet with primarily a south facing aspect.

Steve said the 2012 vintage was very moderate and similar to 2008, except for a warm easterly wind that developed over five days in September which pushed the vintage closer to 2006. He noted, “The resulting pH’s were nudged higher, yet retained enough acidity to hold the wines together, and the wines retained enough structure to retain interest and to age nicely over the mid-term.” The wines are forward and highly approachable, so much so that Steve plans to release them and pull the 2011 vintage Pinot Noirs back into storage for another 6 months. He believes cool vintages like 2011 make the best wines in Oregon, but they take longer to come around. He said, “I love the 2011s and by November they will be delicious. Six months ago my 2011 wines were barely drinkable.”

The 2012 vintage was characterized by small clusters and berries and little disease pressure allowing the fruit to be harvested very clean. Rounding up enough pickers at harvest was the biggest challenge.

The 2012 wines required no special manipulation. After a 5-day cold soak, the must was inoculated, punched down a couple times a day, and pressed without any extended maceration. Steve is not a believer in extended barrel aging so the wines were kept in barrel for 11 months and then bottled unfiltered.

The wines are vinified by winemaker David O’Reilly of Owen Roe fame. David recently broke up with his partner and no longer makes wine at the St. Paul winemaking facility the partners used for years. Steve is planning to build a custom crush facility on the Lenné Estate property where the wines of Lenné Estate can be produced side-by-side with O’Reilly’s Owen Roe wines along with wines of other producers. Last year an initial offering to raise money for the new facility brought in 50% of the needed funds. Investors received 4% to 5.5% on their loan and a Lenné wine component allocation. Inquire with Steve if you have interest in becoming a lender/investor. Steve is also currently expanding his tasting room to include a kitchen, making the hospitality facility more amendable to hosting events.

All the 2012 wines tasted were elegant and eager to please with modest tannins and generous fruit-forward flavors.

2012 Le Nez Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $30. All five clones from the estate vineyard. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, herbs and balsam. Bright cherry and strawberry flavors with a hint of spice and mocha. Elegant, fresh and easy to drink, with some finishing fruit vibe. Score: 89

2012 Lenné Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $45. A barrel selection of the finest barrels from the best parts of the vineyard. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of dark cherry and black raspberry with a hint of hard red candy and spice. Mid weight flavors of black cherries with an accent of clove, dark chocolate and savory herbs. Nicely composed, with balanced tannin and acidity. Highly approachable now. Score: 93

2012 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 150 cases, $55. The best barrels from the 115 block. Named after Steve Lutz’s mother-in-law Jill. · Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose picks up intensity over time in the glass, revealing deep aromas of strawberries, cherries and spice with an earthy undertone. Similarly earthy on the palate with fresh, middleweight flavors of red fruits, herbs and subtle oak. The tannins are reigned in and the wine is easy to like. Score: 90

2012 Lenné Estate Kill Hill 667 Yanhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 100 cases $55. Best barrels from steepest and most stressed part of the vineyard. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy initially, opening up slowly over time in the glass to reveal aromas and flavors of dark red cherries and plum. Impressively sappy on the mid palate with remarkable intensity on the finish. Nicely balanced with fine-grain tannins and juicy acidity. Score: 92

2012 Lenné Estate Karen’s Pommard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 150 cases, $55.The best barrels from the Pommard block. Named after Steve Lutz’s spouse, Karen. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very complex nose offering an array of pleasurable aromas including black cherry, cola, mocha, spice, rose petal, and sweet oak. The discreetly concentrated core of perfectly ripened black cherries is complimented by a riff of cola and spice. The peacock finish is the most intense and lengthy of the 2012 Lenné wines. Score: 94

The 2012 Pinot Noirs were released May 31. The tasting room is open weekends from 12-5 and other times by appointment. You are also welcome to come in anytime the gate is open. Visit the website at

Interestingly, Steve held back 110 cases of the 2008 vintage and will release them in September 2014. These are highly complex wines that seem to be capable of aging forever. A special 2008 Pinot Noir consisting of a selection of some of the best barrels from the 2008 vintage is offered currently for $55. Labeled the Lenné Wetlands Conservancy Pinot Noir, nearly half of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle are donated to Wetlands Conservancy. Contact Steve directly to order:

2008 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Oregon Pinot Noir

49 cases. · Moderately dark reddish purple color with a slight orange tone. Aromas of dried cherry, shoe leather and spice. The palate is alive with secondary characters of orange peel, herbs, and cigar box complimenting the luscious dark cherry core. The wine still has plenty of tannin for the long haul, but the tannin is not imposing at this stage. A delightful Pinot Noir with plenty of life ahead. Score: 92

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