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-6-Willamette Valley AVA's three main soils and their characteristicsSoilSoil type[1] Marine SedimentaryIncludes: Willakenzie[2] Volcanic BasaltIncludes: Jory Loam[3] Weathered Windblown LoessIncludes: LaurelwoodRepresentative Sub-AVA*McMinnville (map ⑤), Ribbon Ridge (②), Van Duzer Corridor (⑦) Dundee Hills (④), Eola-Amity Hills (⑥)Chehalem Mountain (①)* Only northeast facing slopes (the south and west are alluvial soil)CharacteristicsWell-drained soils produce fruit with condensed avours.Contains lots of clay with excellent water retention. Easy to maintain acid levels even in warm years.Brownish-coloured soils with varying water retention and pH depending on the altitude.WineColourConcentrated colour, the center is dark, gradating through to cherry red.A low pH, high refractive light, strong lustre and soft ruby colour.The colour sits in between [1] and [2], and is a uniform crimson red.AromaRipe fruit with a hint of pepper spice.Strong, gorgeous aromas showing red fruit and complexity.Delicate aromas with a focus on blue fruit.PalateThe dense tannins can almost be chewed, and tend to fuller bodied. Powdery with grip, and quite powerful.Fresh acid, ne tannins, supple and silky texture. Elegant, slender and relatively light bodied.A mix of red and black berries, exotic spice, light acid, with rounded tannins. Friendly with a tight focus. Medium bodied.Wines at Village CellarsBergstrom (some), Johann Vineyards, Ribbon Ridge WinesThe Eyrie Vineyards, BrooksChehalem (part), Bergstrom (part)* The sub-AVA and soil type are not always directly linked, but a representative example is provided.◆ Going to Oregon Pinot Camp at long last!While the name “Pinot Camp” or OPC is quite catchy, the program is very practical. It provides the opportunity to visit vineyards in the Willamette Valley AVA, learning directly from the winemakers about the soil, vine age, and clones used in each sub-AVA, and to understand the differences in winemaking such as whole bunch and destemming. There were also tastings and discussions, and attendees were divided into groups for workshops on various themes. In addition to Willamette Valley, which creates a great Pinot Noir, OPC also included tastings of local wines that aren’t well known in Japan, such as Southern Oregon and Columbia Gorge.You can only participate in OPC if you are recommended by a producer or representative organization that imports Oregon wine. Fortunately, I was able to participate courtesy of Village Cellars, whose portfolio includes several Oregon wineries, among them The Eyrie Vineyards. In addition to approximately 300 distributors, retailers, restauranteurs and sommeliers from the United States, the participants included about 10 people from other countries, with Quentin Frantz, Beverage Manager at Grand Hyatt Tokyo and myself from Japan. It was a very meaningful 3-day program, with the chance to talk with winemakers, see the vineyard landscapes, and touch the soil. I’d like to share with you my impressions on Oregon wine, with a focus on the taste of the soil and the wine.◆ Does the flavour of wine actually change depending on the soil?In conclusion, the flavour of wine changes depending on the soil. Scientifically, the effect of soil on wine aromas has not been proven, although soil pH can alter grape pH. To be honest, until I tasted the various Pinot Noirs at this event, for me the difference in aroma due to the soil was just a truism. Why? Because I thought aroma is largely due to winemaking.Although Pinot Noir is a single variety it has an enormous range of variation depending on how you treat it: spicy flavour if fermented whole bunch; pure fruit when destemmed; gorgeous aromas if it undergoes low-temperature immersion before fermentation, and then there’s the amount of time spent in maceration. Depending on the variables, you can also adjust the fruit flavour to red or black.However, I actually discovered that these elements differ considerably depending on the soil, not only in the flavour of wine but also in its taste profile. Just like city boys growing up in Tokyo and country boys growing up in the Okinawa countryside (that’s me), the aroma varies depending on the soil the vine is grown in. However, depending on the education, that is the cultivation in the vineyard and in the winemaking, country boys can even surpass their sophisticated city peers… well that’s my story.There are three main soils in Willamette Valley: [1] Marine Sedimentary, an ancient seabed, [2] Volcanic Basalt, and [3] Silt, a lower quality soil carried by the wind and deposited on the surface (Windblown loess). The characteristics of these three soils and the wines they produce are summarized in the table below.The formation of these soils began approximately 16 million years ago, when the pressure caused by the collision of the Juan de Fuca and North American plates pushed the Pacific Ocean floor on the Oregon coast above the water, uplifting coastal sediments to form the Coast Range. At the same time, the Cascade Mountain Range also formed above water further inland from the accumulation of volcanic rock.[1]. From about 16 to 6 million years ago, large quantities of lava flowing from the volcanic eruptions in northern Oregon created the basalt bedrock in the Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley winegrowing regions.[2]. More recently, an ice age which began 2.5 million years ago contributed a combination of weathered soil composed of rock ground down by glaciers (loess), which 100,000 to 50,000 years ago was distributed by streams and blown onto hillsides, especially in the northern Willamette Valley.Finally 18,000 ‒ 15,000 years ago, an ice dam 600 meters high formed and broke over 40 times approximately every 50 years, deepening and widening the Columbia Gorge, flooding the Columbia and Willamette Valleys, and depositing nutrient-rich loam on the Willamette Valley floor. (Geological information provided by the Oregon Wine Board).Exploring and learning at Oregon Pinot CampLocalReportTaku Iguro (Front, left row) represented Japan at the Asia/Oceania Best Sommelier Competition 2019.The Oregon Pinot Camp (OPC), an annual three-day educational program for professionals involved in wine service and sales, was held in the last week of June in Willamette Valley, Oregon. It is jointly hosted by Oregon Wineries with the aim of spreading understanding of Oregon wines. In addition, they also host the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) for Pinot lovers in late July every year. Sommelier Taku Iguro reports on his experience at OPC 2019.

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