2015 Roco The Stalker Pinot Noir



Rollin Soles is not a winemaker who rests on his laurels, nor his reputation.

Born and bred in Texas, and still maintaining the 10-gallon hat and hearty drawl, Rollin “immigrated” to the Willamette Valley in the early pioneering days of Pinot Noir. As one of the first winemakers there in the 1980s, he helped build Willamette’s reputation for world-class Pinot, as well as pioneer Oregon’s first sparkling wines. The winery he founded was Argyle, and his wines went on to grace the cover of Wine Spectator many times as well as garner major awards from across the globe.

But that wasn’t enough. After turning over the reins at Argyle, Rollin wanted to continue his passion for Willamette Pinot, and he did so, founding the winery Roco with its Thunderbird crest. The Pinots under the Roco label have gone on to be equally celebrated. Still, Rollin wanted to do more. And that brings us to his newest wine – Roco’s the Stalks.

“The Stalks” is Australian for what most Americans would call grape stems. Rollin spent some time in Australia staging at wineries there because their harvests are opposite Willamette’s. The idea of using stalks, or stems, with Pinot Noir isn’t a new one. Most famously it’s practiced by Domaine Romanee Conti, with the idea that stem inclusion in the fermenting must builds backbone, depth of gravitas, and richness of flavor, as well as long-term ageability – all desirable things.

With this wine the idea is to get all of those desirable elements from stem inclusion but without the hearty green notes and turgidness when the wine is young. To this end, Rollin developed a special process. The grapes are picked in small lots, destemmed, crushed and put to cold soak for 10 days. The stems are spread out (without the grapes) and left to further dry out for seven days. This process of lignation removes all the green aromas from the stems as well as their harsh tannins. Rollin then punches the stems down into the must and proceeds with fermentation as per Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

The results are everything that you know and love about Willamette Pinot – a wonderfully perfumed bouquet of cherries exudes from the glass with echoes of raspberry, freshly baked rye bread, cranberry orange scones and sweet spices. The palate offers a graceful, svelte, lissome Willamette Pinot mouthfeel – an abundance of flavor without being ponderous or heavy. The finish continues with this seamless midpalate weight and finishes pure and immaculate, with just the gentlest tug of tannins. It’s from 2015 and at four years old, is drinking fabulously now but will continue to age for at least another decade.

Rollin did Waterford a couple of good turns over the years and now he’s offered us another – this is one of his top Pinots, but we’re able to offer it at a near-everyday price. Thanks, Rollin, for spreading the love!

Critical Acclaim:

“93 points.

“Lurid red. A sexy, highly perfumed bouquet evokes fresh black raspberry, cola and floral pastille scents, along with woodsmoke and Asian spice flourishes. Stains the palate with sweet, concentrated red and dark berry and spicecake flavors that show a suave blend of power and finesse. The spicy quality lingers on a very long, penetrating, gently tannic finish that leaves five-spice powder and cola notes behind.” – Vinous

“93 points.

“Aromas of plums, cherries, lemons and lavender. Hints of cedar, too. Light to medium body, firm and tights tannins and a vibrant finish. Delicious now.” – James Suckling