We recently acquired a lovely Pinot Noir to add to our collection. From the Willamette Valley of Oregon comes a beautiful wine from the husband and wife team of Stirling Fox and Kelly Kidneigh. This pair of experienced vintners purchased their own winery in 2008 in the Chehalem Mountains. Once part of the Rex Hill Vineyards, the relatively new Fox-Kidneigh winery goes by the name Mad Violets. (The bottle states “The Flowers Made Me Do It!”)
The property isn’t large – only 4 acres total in size. The goal is to produce wines with only a minimal amount of human interference. The Pinot Noir, for example, uses only wild yeast during the fermentation process, and when the bottling process begins, there’s nary a filter to be seen.
So what’s the origin of the name Mad Violets? Fox and Kidneigh have two daughters, Madeline and Violet. Stirling Fox has said that when they hit upon the name, they liked the image it evoked of a field of wild flowers. It also reminded he and his wife of their moment of insanity in deciding to start their own winery.
Fox and Kidneigh create wines that reflect the cooler climate of the valley. This means wines that are complex yet subtle. This is not the wine to turn to if you’re expecting a huge mouthful of cherries with just the smallest sips. These are wines that require a long drink and a willingness to let it roll around your tongue in order to capture the full effect.
The Pinot Noir is a perfect example. Normally, wine drinkers associate Pinot with the drier, warmer climes of Burgundy where the red wines are bold and fruity on the surface with an underlying layer of ancient forests and other mysterious places. The best Burgundies build on these layers, creating something that is both intense and perfectly smooth.
Mad Violets Pinot is less fruit forward then traditional Burgundies. The cherry and strawberry flavors are subtle when first sipped. It’s far too easy to just gulp it down and then complain that there’s no taste, but if you take a moment to let it sit on the tongue, you’ll realize that this wine is carrying some incredibly fresh flavors. The fruits are red and sumptuous and well-balanced with a hint of something drier, like fresh tilled soil. It’s delicious and enticing and you’ll want to keep drinking it just to see what new flavors will reveal themselves.
It may not be the easiest wine to find, but you should definitely stock up if you find a few bottles. You won’t regret it.