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2013 William Hatcher Pinot Noir

I am first a poet. As a creative effort, winemaking is nominally asymmetrical to poetry if only for being crafted in real time. While writing, fine art, music and the such are elastic processes, the entropic imperative of ripening fruit obliges indelible decisions with no do-overs. There is no eraser at the end of the pencil.

Notably, the tradition of European winemaking observes the immutable principle in its semantics. There is no word for "winemaker" in French, Italian or Spanish: one is a vigneron, viticoltore or vinicultor, the idea being that the wine is made in the vineyard. It took American sensibilities to coin the term "winemaker" as something of a twist in Voltaire's observation that "God created man in His own image and man has been returning the complement ever since."

Thus, philosophically, I proceed from the notions of less is more and the Tao of doing without doing. I believe in "shepherding" the wine from the vineyard, intervening as little as possible to allow the distinctions of terroir and vintage to reveal themselves. Accordingly, I rely on long cold soaking to gently coax color and the myriad flavor components from the grapes and to build a generous mid-palate underpinned by soft tannins and bright acidity that marries the resultant wine to food.

In a given vintage, the optimal blend may comprise only half or so of the barrels I make. As with the preparation of a fine meal, it is a question of what precisely informs the whole. Too much of the finest ingredient may overwhelm the balance. Thus, REX HILL and A to Z are always blessed with some beautiful barrels.

At first, dark cherries fill the nose almost to the exclusion of all else before underlying scents of cassis, plum, rose hip tea and yes, cherry cola come to the surface. Pie spices, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg are subtly interwoven as is the hint of cocoa. Graceful on the palate, the wine is vibrant, succulent and mouth-watering built as it is on a structure more favoring acid than tannin. Its freshness fills the mouth before opening onto a long, clean finish. Best 2016-2020.


2013 started off with a dry winter and an early spring. The arid conditions were a concern for most dry farmers but rain in May topped up the soil to carry the vines through the rest of the season. The Willamette Valley was early with bloom but experienced a series of fronts which reduced set and lowered yields at most sites. Late season weather in the Willamette Valley caused some logistical challenges at harvest but helped to slow down the ripening. The warm, dry summer combined with an early season start, developed great color, flavor, and tannin ripeness.

past vintage
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