King Estate Inscription Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2021

Medium ruby color; cherry, raspberry, cranberry, plum, blackcurrant, leather, oak, vanilla, cola, minerality on the nose and palate.

King Estate Inscription Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2021

Dry; more tannic than you expect from a pinot noir, same with acidity. Sour cherry, toasty oak, saline, garigue-earth contribute to to this not being your usual Willamette Valley pinot noir. It pop-and-pours tight, so give it a couple of extra swirls in glass or decant. Light-medium body. Fruit forward. 13.5% ABV

Grapes—100% PN—sourced from various Willamette vineyards: 26% King Estate, 16% Pfeiffer, 14% Bradshaw, 6% Croft, 6% Kennel, 32% other. Whole clusters destemmed and cold soaked for 48 hours with daily pump overs. Some whole clusters left intact for complexity and tannic development. During fermentation, 10% of juice is bled off (saignée method) to concentrate flavor and color. Fermented in open-tank stainless steel with daily punch downs. Aged in French oak for 10 months.

King Estate vineyard and winery

The 2021 vintage was challenge. Warm winter with below-average rainfall; entire vintage one of the driest growing seasons on record. Wide temperature fluctuations, including a heat dome in June that broke all-time high temperature records. Warm weather persisted through October’s harvest. That likely explains the testy nature of this pour. Pinot noir is a cool climate grape, and 2021 was not a cool vintage. That said, many enjoy pinot noir with attitude. This is not Maurice Chevalier, more Paul Newman.

Founded in 1991, King Estate is certified organic and biodynamic. The estate vineyard is 1,033 acres in the southern end of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The family-owned estate is certified by Demeter USA as the largest biodynamic vineyard in the United States and has been certified organic since 2002.

King Estate owner Ed King
King Estate COO and winermaker Brent Stone
King Estate director of viticulture Raymond Nuclo
King Estate vineyard manager Meliton Martinez

Ed King and his father, also named Ed, founded the winery. Ed practiced law in Alaska, then worked for his father’s company, King Radio—an aircraft electronics firm in Kansas City, Missouri—prior to pursuing his winemaking dream. The younger King owned two small vineyards as part of his timberland and farmland properties in Oregon. When buying hay for his horses, he discovered a 600-acre cattle ranch near Lorane, Oregon he thought would be ideal for viticulture. The purchase would evolve into today’s King Estate operation.

King Estate’s key people today include owner Ed King; COO and winemaker Brent Stone; director of viticulture Raymond Nuclo; and vineyard manager Meliton Martinez.

King Estate Inscription Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2021: Bolder, edgier side of Willamette Valley pinot noir drinks more like a California effort. Tannins, acidity, oak influence significant in assertive fruit-forward effort. More power and dark fruit than demure red fruits. Not an easy drinking, simple sipper, but good QPR (quality-price ratio), particularly if you are into the bolder side of pinot. Pair with beef—grilled, pan-fried, skillet-to-oven, sous vide; braised/pot-roasted beef; lamb; veal; roast turkey; fleshy fish—blackened salmon. Cheese—sheep’s milk cheeses; gruyère, comté, emmenthal, gouda, taleggio. $18-22

King Estate website

King Estate barrel room
King Estate fermentation tanks
King Estate restaurant patio
King Estate pinot gris grapes