Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Wines
2010 1789 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 185 cases, $48. French
winemaker Isabelle Dutartre’s own label. 1789 marks the year of the French
revolution and the name is a symbol of Dutartre’s family’s revoultion when they
moved from the south of France to Oregon wine country. She is currently the
winemaker for De Ponte Cellars in the Dundee Hills.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Intriguing nose with aromas of cherry liquor, spice and
a hint of fresh oak. Demure but flavorful on the palate with tastes of cherry,
spice, citrus and oak. Crafted with modest tannins with bright acidity. Pinotosity
at work here.
2010 Amalie Robert Pommard Clone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 45 cases, $44. Fermented
with whole clusters and indigenous yeast. Aged a minimum of 12 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and
Light garnet color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of red cherry pie glaze, baking spices, sandalwood
and damp earthy flora. Light in weight and very delicate, with red cherry and raspberry flavors backed by soft
fine-grain tannins and nervy acidity. A hint of dried herbs and spice add interest. An elegant and charming
wine that forces the drinker to search for nuance. Very delicate for a Pommard based wine.
2010 Amalie Robert Wädenswil Clone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 45 cases, $44. Estate grown, produced and bottled in Dallas, Oregon.
Fermented with whole clusters and indigenous yeast. Aged a minimum of 12
months in French oak barrels.
Light garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas
of berry jam, sassafras, nutmeg, perfumed leather glove and a hint of smoky
oak. Delicious light to mid weight core of red cherries and berries with accents
of dried herbs, toasted oak and sassafras. Very delicate but flavorful and juicy
with a good cut of acidity on the finish. May pick up heft over time in the cellar.
2010 Ancient Cellars One Toe Duck Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $30. The inspiration for the
name came from a Mallard duck struck by a car who recovered and thrived with an obvious scar and
namesake. A portion of the sales of the wine go to Benefit Wildlife Rehab.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. The aromas emerge slowly over time in the glass revealing notes of red cherry, baking
spice, sandalwood and nutty oak. Darker fruits are evident on the palate including black cherry and black
raspberry accented with spice. Good mid palate intensity, balanced tannins, bright acidity and a hi voltage
finish featuring tangy and slightly tart cherry and raspberry fruits.
2011 Ancient Cellars One Toe Duck Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., $N/A.
Light garnet color in
the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry hard candy and black raspberry jam with a vinegary note (? acescence)
showing up over time. More pleasant on the palate with light weight fruit flavors of candied cherry, strawberry
and red raspberry with a complimentary hint of cinnamon. The tannins are supple and the acid is vibrant.
Similar to the 2010 vintage, but lighter in weight with redder fruit.
2011 Beaux Frères The Beaux Frères Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
1,900 cases, $72. Grown, produced and bottled by Beaux Frères. From estate fruit planted from 1987 to 1991
primarily to Pommard and Wädenswil clones on their own roots. The vineyard has been farmed following the
principals of biodynamics since 2002. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass.
Aromas of red cherries, rose petals and other floral notes, and lacquered wood. Light to mid weight flavors of
cherry and cranberry with a hint of oak. Very pleasant to drinking and charming in character, with modest
tannins and very bright acidity, but a bit shallow on the mid palate and finish. Clearly the wine suffers from
ripeness challenges, but is a commendable effort in a very difficult vintge. About the same the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Bergström Gregory Ranch Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc.,$47.50. From an estate-farmed vineyard
owned by Wine Club members Dr. Kenton and Cindy Gregory. The
vineyard was planted in 2007 to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 21 acres
with 15 different clonal blocks on a steep hillside. Soils are sandstonebased
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Highly aromatic and alluring with bright aromas of black cherries, black
raspberries, plum reduction sauce and spice. Exuberant and luscious on the
palate with waves of black cherry, boysenberry and black raspberry fruits
accented with spice. Velvety in texture with suave tannins and beautifully
integrated oak. Highly pleasurable, this wine shows up the ripe, forward fruit of Oregon’s 2012 vintage. When
tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was even more aromatic and
2012 Broadley Vineyards Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $28.
Dark violet color
in the glass. Brooding aromas of dark cherries and berries with a faint note of anise and vanilla.
Rich, deep and concentrated with a hedonistic core of sweet black raspberry, cassis, and spiced
plum flavors with a shadow of oak in the background. Matching tannins and a generous fruit-filled
finish complete the picture. Still very young and slightly awkward, becoming more expressive and
refined with time in the glass. Cellar this wine for a few years.
2012 Plowbuster (Carabella) Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $20. Second label of Carabella
sourced from several AVAs in Oregon including the Chehalem Mountains. A fruit forward style that is
a popular by-the-glass pour at restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
purple hue in the glass. Aromas of vanilla-infused plum sauce, blackberries and hard cherry candy.
Intense blackberry, ollaliberry and black plum fruit flavors that bring your palate to attention.
Amazing phenolic ripeness with balanced tannins and a lingering finish. Will have many fans.
2011 Carabella Inchinnan Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 150
cases, $54. A blend of “darker” clones from Carabella Vineyard which was
originally part of the Inchinnan Farm, a hazelnut orchard owned by the
McDonald family. This special cuvée honors their support. The stony soils are
lie on a protected southeastern flank of the Chehalem Mountains. Seven blocks
are fermented separately. Clones 115, 114, Wädenswil, and 777 (first time).
25% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Mike
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
cherries, herb garden and bay leaf lead to a light to mid weight core of herbinfused
red cherry and purple grape fruit flavors accented with spice. Elegant
and very enjoyable now with modest tannins and bright acidity. Impressive wine in this challenging vintage.
2012 de Lancellotti Famiglia Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 75 cases, $35. A blend of estate fruit and sourced
fruit all farmed Biodynamic. This wine is the least expensive in
the de Lancellotti lineup, but I thought it was terrific.
reddish purple color in the glass. Delicate aromas of cherry,
spice and oak vanillin. Very smooth and likable on the palate,
with an impressively intense mid palate attack of dark red
cherry and black raspberry flavors with a compliment of cinnamon spice and oak
in the background. Very crisp with a generous and persistent cherry-driven
finish that is mouth watering. An impressive offering that was still pumping out
the pleasure the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. No
need to wait on this beauty.
Mark Tarlov, the former owner of Evening Land Vineyards launched Chapter 24 in 2012. He brought on
Burgundian vigneron Louis Michel Liger-Belair as a consultant to work with winemaker Mike (“Mikey”) D.
Etzel, the son of Beaux Frères winemaker Michael Etzel. The entry level wines are produced under the Two
Messengers label (a joint project with Patricia Green Cellars). The mid-range label is Fire + Flood that
explores the two main soil types in the Willamette Valley, Jory (Fire) and Willakenzie (Flood). The high end
release is Last Chapter, named for the final scene in “The Odyssey,” and priced at $90. Tarlov plans to build
a winery and acquire one or two vineyards in the Willamette Valley while signing long-term contracts with
several other vineyards.
2012 Fire + Flood (Chapter 24) The Flood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Penetrating aromas of darker stone and berry fruits flow from the glass
and hold up over time. Full-bodied and boisterous flavors of Bing
cherries, boysenberries and cassis caress the palate and persist with
uncommon intensity on the very long finish. The wine still has an oak
sheen which will integrate over time in the cellar. The soft texture is
particularly appealing. A very special wine.
2012 Fire + Flood (Chapter 24) The Fire Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $60.
purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of black cherry, cranberry and spice. Middleweight flavors of black
cherries, raspberries and baking spice with an earthy undertone. Slightly muscular tannins balanced with
vibrant acidity make for a very seamless, polished impression. Much more aromatic and flavorful the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle suggesting good age ability.
2011 Harper Voit Strandline Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 250 cases, $35. Old School Vineyard
in the far southwest corner of the Willamette Valley and Bieze Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. Bieze Vineyard
shares its eastern fence with the famed Seven Springs Vineyard. Planted in 2008 in Nekia, Jory and Ritner
volcanic soils, the vineyard is situated at 600 t0 680 feet above sea level. Possibly the best new vineyard in
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose shows off aromas of blackberry, black
plum reduction sauce, vanilla and smoky oak. Mid to full bodied with a pleasing core of black cherry,
boysenberry and black plum flavors accented by oak vanillin. Impressive fruit ripeness in this vintage with wellintegrated
tannins and some finishing length. Needs more time to shed some oak influence.
2011 Harper Voit Old School Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 50
cases, $55. Old School Vineyard is situated at 800 feet elevation and the vines
are planted in well-drained and nutrient deficient Bellpine soil. Dry-farmed using
draft horses, compost and natural weed suppression, the vineyard is treated as
a holistic organism. Dijon, Wädenswil and Pommard clones.
This wine drinks
more Old World so the name fits. Shy aromas of dark red berries and cherries
with a dash of smoky oak. Middleweight flavors of darker cherries and
cranberries with a juicy, acid-driven finish of noticeable length. Should improve
over time in the cellar but hard to resist now.
2012 Harper Voit Surlie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
13.6% alc., 225 cases, $20. Crannell and
Meredith Mitchell vineyards. Barrel fermented and age sur lie.
Very light golden yellow color and
clear in the glass. Highly aromatic with effusive aromas of baked apple, Limoncello, pear, pastry
cream and lees. Delicious flavors of apple, pear and citrus, finishing long with a bright green apple
note and palate cleansing acidity. Pinot Blanc can be watery and uninspired, but this wine is
everything but, possessing nuance, body and flair. One of the best Pinot Blancs I have experienced
La Crema Releases First Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Jackson Family Wines was a large part of a significant land grab in the Willamette Valley in 2013. They have
become the largest family owned winery possessing property in the Willamette Valley with at least 900 acres
of potential vineyard land. The new acquisitions include Gran Moraine Vineyard and Soléna Estate in the
Yamhill-Carlton District, Zena Crown Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, and Maple Grove southwest of Eola-
Amity Hills. Jackson Family Wines began making wine for the La Crema label and a new label called Gran
Moraine at Soléna!s former winery. A Zena Crown brand is also planned and possibly a new winery on this
property as well.
Jackson Family Wines is well established in California with large vineyard holdings in the Russian River
Valley, Mendocino County, Carneros and Monterey. The excellence of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the
relatively less expense to acquire vineyard property in Oregon relative to California led the company to add
another cool-climate Pinot Noir region to their collection.
The 2012 La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir bottling is the inaugural Willamette Valley wine for Jackson
Family Estates, vinified by La Crema winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas. It was fortuitous that the
production of this wine coincided with a beautiful growing season in the Willamette Valley.
2012 La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.55, 12,224 cases, $30.
A blend of fruit from ten different vineyards including the sub-AVAs of McMinnville, Eola-Amity Hills
and Dundee Hills. 8 different clones (667, 777, 23, Pommard, 2A, 113, 114, 115) and a variety of
climatic and soil profiles. 100% de-stemmed, 3-day cold soak. Aged 9 months in 25% new French
oak barrels with medium to medium-plus toast.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Classy aromas of black cherry, forest floor, rose petal and spice hold up nicely over time in the
glass. Generous and forward in character with a lip-smacking core of dark cherry, raspberry and
pomegranate fruits accented with a hint of mocha and savory dried herbs. Very accommodating, with mild
tannins and a juicy, fruity finish. I sampled this wine against several premium Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs and
it held its own. A solid everyday Pinot that is in wide retail distribution at the right price.
2012 Owen Roe The Kilmore Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $42. Winemaker David O’Reilly is one of
the few Irish-born winemakers in the United States. This wine is named
after the Kilmore Doorway which is displayed on the label in a photo.
This Romanesque doorway was a sculpted entrance to the ancient
Trinity Island Abbey in County Cavan, Ireland. Here the great patriot
Owen Roe O’Neill sought solace during his quest for Irish
independence. Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon clones from vineyards in the
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The
nose offers an array of enticing aromas including raspberry, dried cherry,
sassafras, leather saddle and sandalwood. Modest in weight, but highly flavorful, the wine offers notes of black
cherry, black raspberry, spice, dark chocolate and coffee. Very gracious and easy to drink now, this beauty has
the balance and tannic backbone to age effortlessly in the cellar for 5 to 10 years. I loved the 2010 vintage of
this wine, and this vintage is a hair better.
2011 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $50. Fourth generation Burgundian winemaker
Alexandrine Roy joins Phelps Creek in Hood River, Oregon, each fall
after placing her Gevrey-Chambertain wines in barrel. This wine is
made from a selection of estate fruit.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Elusive aromas upon opening that emerge over time in the
glass to reveal scents of cherry, raspberry and vanilla. Intensely
flavored on the mid palate and finish exhibiting ripe cherry and raspberry fruits
with a little dash of herbs and earth. A striking wine that has the tannins in the
forefront at this young age, but is uniquely interesting. The finish is particularly
noteworthy for its persistence and charm. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This wine has obvious French breeding and will require patience. Over time, there will be plenty
2010 Siltstone Guadalupe Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$32. Joel and Louise Myers & Sons of Vinetenders manage this vineyard for owners Jim
Stonebridge and Kathleen Boere.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Haunting aromas of
black cherry, wilted rose, wine cave and wet stones. Plenty of fruit sap, boasting concentrated
flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with an earthy underpinning. Much bigger than the
previous two vintages, filling the mouth with pleasure and departing with a generous amount of fruit
goodness and some dry tannin residue. A bold wine that dances on its toes.