Lenne Estate Review
Address: 18760 NE Laughlin Road Yamhill,Oregon 97148.
Phone Number: 503-956-2256
Tasting Hours: See website for wine tasting details.
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Oregon
Reviewer: Jade Helm
Review Date: 11/8/2014
Reviewer: Jade Helm
There is something inherently feminine and elegant about Pinot noir from the Willamette Valley. There isn’t, however, one icon for feminine elegance and beauty. Each vintage, plot of land, and winemaker gives us various shades. Sometimes it is Marilyn Monroe and sometimes it is Meryl Streep.
At Lenné Estate, it is the beauty of someone who has lived life, had some struggles, and come through the better for it. She is a little elusive – hard to nail down. She doesn’t speak the loudest but people stop to listen. Her closet isn’t bursting with trendy faux furs and pleather but has an appropriate number of well-tailored, classic ensembles. We’d lay money there are some naturally scuffed cowgirl boots in the back. She doesn’t have to demand respect because has earned it.
Owner/Winemaker Steve Lutz will attribute the elegance of Lenné Pinot noir to the soil. “I can vouch for the fact that this soil is about as bad as it gets,” Lutz “brags”. The soil is called Peavine, a sedimentary soil that is very low in organic matter. You can see it in the tasting room if you visit. It fills the inside of the glassed front custom tasting bar. Lutz attributes the signature characteristic of Lenné wines – black fruit, chocolate/mocha, and distinct mid-palate textures- to this sorry soil.
Whatever the cause, these wines are distinctive. Even in the 2012 vintage – known for a more ripe, lush style – Lutz or the soil or some force has a hand of restraint on Lenné wines. What is really exciting is the actual presence of chocolate notes. We hear wine drinkers say this often but it usually sounds like they are making it up. The chocolate flavor presents with varying degrees of depth from dark chocolate to mocha. Think expensive French chocolate notes. The kind of chocolate you slip out of your shoes to enjoy and dissolve on your tongue to savor the experience. Even the texture of the tannin is reminiscent of cocoa powder. Coupled with the purity of fruit – black cherry, raspberry, cranberry depending on vintage – the effect is decadent without being lush.
A fine example is the 2012 Lenné Estate Kill Hill Pinot Noir. As noted, this was a vintage that produced ripe fruit. The wine’s name is derived from the vineyard plot. Of all the awful soil at Lenné, this is the worst. These vines must wish they could die and go on to a better place. Their fruit is their cry for a bird to come along and plant their seeds on more fertile ground. The nose on this wine is intense. Our tasting note says “holy cow.” Yet, even in crying out its last hurrah, this wine shows elegance.
The tasting room is wine country rustic chic. Wood ceilings, farm tables, and fireplace with stone surround make a cozy atmosphere. Flights typically include five wines; all are estate grown Pinot noir with nuanced differences. Additional wines can be added to the flight at minimal cost.
Guests can opt for quick stand up bar tasting or enjoy the views on the patio. Although those who lingered to chat and compare notes at the bar are not hurried. Picnics are welcome. Club members have exclusive seating on an upper deck. The views in this area are gorgeous and vast. We always feel compelled to pull over on the side of the road to take pictures and then capture more once we reach the elevated view at Lenné. The best light is in the mornings through early afternoon when the sun illuminates the valley.
Lenné Estate’s Tasting Room is not about a lot of bells and whistles. It is a handsome tasting room in a beautiful location. The wine is the big draw, as it should be. If you like delicate Pinot noir you won’t want to miss the distinctive characteristics at Lenné. Well situated in the town of Yamhill, a trip to Lenné can be combined with tastings at many nearby Yamhill-Carlton wineries such as Saffron Fields and Willakenzie.