TN: 2006 Windy Oaks Estate Pinot Noir Wild Yeast

  • 2006 Windy Oaks Estate Pinot Noir Wild Yeast - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (12/10/2012)
    Less than an hour in the decanter. Light ruby red. The nose is a mix of exotic spices and earth-laden red fruit. Very pretty & pleasant to smell. Just a nearly perfect weight here. This opens medium bodied, elegant and graceful and never changes ( a very good thing in this case, as this is a lovely expression of Pinot Noir). The issue I run into here is the fruit & oak combo are seriously sweet. Big red ripe strawberries & sweet cherries here. High levels of acidity & ever present oak make me think this has a ways to go, but the tannins are largely resolved. Better with a chicken parm & marinara. Good length.

Kind of a frustrating bottle as there is a lot to like, but a lot of distraction too.

Posted from CellarTracker

From my limited experience, Windy Oaks seems like a rather odd combination of great quality, delicate and red-fruited grapes with a too-large dose of sweet new oak. I say “rather odd” because most of the time, excessive new oak is either used to mask average grapes, or used alongside riper grapes.

It seems like all the materials are there to make some great wines if they would just moderate the new oak. Or maybe I just haven’t had them with sufficient age for the oak to work it’s way out of the forefront. Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about (very good possibility of this in every instance).

I always thought there was a lot of oak. I commented as such about a year ago and Jim Schultz responded with the following:

“Just to set the record straight, when I first started Windy Oaks Estate I did not want to buy used barrels and take the risk of Brett; so for the first four or five years–until about 2005–we used mainly new barrels. The 2003 Reserve, for example, was 100% new oak. As our vineyard production started to level off, we increasingly used a mix of new, 1 vintage, and 2 vintage barrels. We just finished bottling the last of our 2009 vintage, and it ranges from about 50% new oak in our Reserve to 0% new oak in our Diane’s Block. We now purchase about 1/3 of our barrels new each year, and they are all extra tight grain French oak made with 3-5 year air dried wood (to minimize oak intrusion since we age our Pinots in barrel 17-27 months).”

I think you DO know what you’re talking about because I feel the exact same way. I can’t emphasize enough how pitch perfect the weight is on this. The sweetness is really frustrating though.

It has been about two years since I opened a bottle of this one, but I thought it was just about perfect. The Windy Oaks style is definitely in my sweet spot, and the 06 wild yeast was one of my favorites. Maybe I just enjoy a nice hint of high quality oak accenting a wine, or maybe that part of the flavor profile is just a part of the terroir directly from the grapes and isn’t from the oak at all. Perhaps it is the power of suggestion from having “oak” in the name.

Anthony, perhaps Windy Oaks “house” style is not your cup of tea. I haven’t had the '06 for about 3 years but by now the oak almost always integrates (although it has never bothered me). If you are willing to give them another try WO has backed off the oak in some of their bottelings as Sarah mentions. I am a huge fan of what Jim & Judy are doing and think they are really under-rated. If you have a chance it is well worth visiting them. [cheers.gif]

+1 I’ve only had more recent vintages, but think that these wines are outstanding and seriously underrated. That said, I do understand what Chris, Anthony, and Sarah are referring to with the oak treatment. I find that it’s pretty formidable in some of their releases, but seems to mellow out considerably after a year or two. Like I said, I haven’t had anything from '06 but would have guessed it’d follow a similar trajectory. Surprised that it’s still so noticeable.

Sarah, thanks for posting that response from Jim. I thought that something about the '09 Diane’s block was different. That explained it.

What is the listed alcohol %?