The Oppenlander Vineyard, on property owned by the Shandel family for generations, is a unique site in Mendocino, blessed with the gift of a distinctive heavy clay loam and an advantageous proximity to the coast. Its Dijon clones were planted in 1997 and have produced excellent wines over the years, showcasing the cool site and long hang time that results.
The 2017 vintage was eventful, kicking off with significant rainfall that ended a stretch of drought years and provided the vines with ample water reserves. Summer brought a wave of heat spikes, which also accelerated ripening while stressing the vines, setting the stage for an intense, fruit-forward profile.
Reflecting its tumultuous year, the 2017 Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir displays a vibrant ruby-violet color. The nose opens with the quintessential Mendocino combination of rich, dark fruit and earth, accentuated by the unique concentration and intensity derived from the vineyard’s historical site. Initial aromas of loamy mushroom, jammy berries, and soft cedarwood make way for the palate’s vivid explosion of fruit.
The heat of the summer is reflected in the wine’s abundance of ripe pomegranate and Bing cherry notes. Underneath, layers of sweet aged leather, dark chocolate, violets, and dusty minerality add complexity and depth. Soft yet chewy tannins balance the cool-climate acidity, demonstrating the vineyard’s inherent resilience even in a hotter year.
Despite the warmth of the vintage, the wine remains vibrant and energetic, its coastal origin shining through in its bright fruit character and pleasing texture. While this Pinot Noir is generously flavorful and accessible now, it promises to evolve beautifully over the next 5-8 years, offering even greater depth and complexity. This 2017 release, despite its challenges, stands as a testament to the unique terroir of the Oppenlander Vineyard and the resilience of its ancient vines.