Zena Crown Vineyard
Last year I wrote about this new project from Jackson Family Wines, “Jackson Family Wines Infuses New Life
into Zena Crown Vineyard,” at www.princeofpinot.com/article/1864/. Jackson Family Wines acquired Zena
Crown Vineyard as part of their initial foray into the Willamette Valley in 2013. The inaugural 1,000 cases from
the 2013 vintage were crafted from the most expressive and distinctive blocks of the vineyard, and were very
Zena Crown Vineyard is located on choice real estate in the Eola-Amity Hills region of the Willamette Valley. It’s
115 acres dwarfs several very notable adjacent Pinot Noir vineyards, including Temperance Hill, Justice,
Zenith, and Bethel Heights. The vineyard’s 56 blocks are primarily planted to Pinot Noir, with smaller plantings
of Pinot Blanc (1.94 acres) and Chardonnay (6.6 acres). Soils are primarily volcanic Jory and Nekia with areas
of Bellpine, Ritner, Steiwer and Witzel).
The vineyard is planted to a variety of Pinot Noir clones including Pommard, Wädenswil 2A, Mt. Eden, “828,”
and several Dijon clones. The diverseness of the vineyard and clones allows the opportunity to produce
distinctive block-driven Pinot Noirs. Currently there are four wines produced: Slope, Block 14, Conifer, and The
Sum. Three of these wines from the fall release of the 2014 vintage are reviewed below. The wines are still
very young and would benefit from decanting or more time in the cellar. Aromatics are still rather shy and the
flavor profiles are somewhat similar at this stage.
The winemaker is Shane Moore, who relocated to Oregon leaving a position as associate winemaker for La
Crema in California. He consults with renowned Oregon veteran winemaker Tony Rynders.
Some percentage of whole clusters may be included in the fermentation depending on the vintage, the clone
and the intended result. Typically, the wines are aged 16 months in French oak barrels, with a high percentage
of new oak (new oak allows more oxygen ingress allowing the winemaker to limit undue reduction without
racking). The wines are bottled with Diam closures and are unfined as a rule.
Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir is sold exclusively through an allocated mailing list at www.zenacrown.com.
2014 Zena Crown Vineyard Slope Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.53, 735
cases, $100. Sourced from blocks Zena West 6 and Zena East 2, 5 and 6. Harvest Brix 24.6º-25.2º. Pommard
4 and 667, 11-year-old vines. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 84% new (M to M+ toast). This bottling is
the “best of the best” from the vineyard. Winemaker Shane Moore identifies the best blocks in the property that
he feels fit the style of Slope, often selecting individual rows. The specific rows and blocks vary from year to
year, but the top blocks are always hand selected.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant
aromas of dark berries and leather. Mid weight flavors of blackberry, cassis and spice have an impressive attack and length with an amazingly long and generous finish. A hint of oak-driven vanilla and tobacco chimes
in. Impeccable balance, with blended tannins and a creamy texture. The most concentrated of the three 2014
wines reviewed here. Much better over time in the glass.
2014 Zena Crown Vineyard Conifer Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.53, 235
cases, $75. Sourced from blocks Zena West 1A and Zena East 2, 5 and 14. Harvest Brix 24.0º-27.0º.
Pommard 4, 114 and 667, 11-year-old vines. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 77% new (M to M+ toast).
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of red and black fruits and fertile earth. A little more refined and
elegant than the Slope bottling with a more silky mouth feel. Again, beautifully balanced, with a mid weight
charge of blueberry and blackberry fruits that are well spiced and complimented by piney oak. The wine
finishes with a delightfully aromatic and sweet blackberry finish. Further bottle aging advised.
2014 Zena Crown Vineyard The Sum Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH
3.68, TA 0.51, 286 cases, $75. Sourced From blocks Zena East 1, 12 and 14. Harvest Brix
14.0º-27.0º. Pommard 4 and 667, 11-year-old vines. 40% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in French
oak barrels, 75% new (M to M+ toast).
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Demure, but pleasant
aromas of cassis, earthy flora and wood shed. The most harmonious wine of the trio tasted here,
with a bit more vibrancy. Nothing is out of place. A discreetly sappy black cherry fruit core is
accented with a touch of cardamom spice. Oak is contributory without imposition. The wine has a
mouth filling presence, a sleek texture, with integrated tannins, and a potent finish. There is an indefinable
special quality to this wine that makes it stand out.