Lenné Estate, Yamhill-Carlton District (Willamette Valley, Oregon) Pinot Noir “South Slope Select” 2019

($55):  I was unfamiliar with Lenné’s wines before tasting this Pinot Noir and their Sad Jack bottling.  I am now adding Lenné to my list of favorite Oregon producers.  While both wines are extraordinary in their own right, comparing them shows the amazing spectrum of Pinot Noir.  Though displaying the same silky texture, the South Slope Select is a denser version of Sad Jack, with more black fruit flavors.  Like Sad Jack, it has plenty of complexity with savory and mineral-y notes adding to the chorus of fruity ones.  It’s just a touch weightier and less explosive at this stage.  It still conveys the “flavor without weight” character of great Pinot Noir.  Hints of tar-like nuances and a subtle bitterness in the finish adds to its appeal.  The scientist in me asks why these wines are different?  After all, they’re made by the same person, made from the same grape grown in vineyards on the same 21-acre estate. Is it the difference in clones of Pinot Noir?  The Pinot Noir clone for Sad Jack was 777, while for South Slope Select, it was a blend of the Pommard clone and clone 115.  Are the different characteristics of the wines due to subtle differences in terroir within the 21-acres?  Who knows?  Enough analysis.  My advice, buy both, invite friends over, and be swept away by the range they display.
95 Michael Apstein May 24, 2022