The 2008 vintage in Oregon’s Willamette Valley was highly touted and some vintners even claimed it was the
best vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir in the decade or even in Oregon’s modern 50-year winegrowing history. It
was said to be the most perfect growing season ever in the Willamette Valley. Since then, the 2012 and 2014
vintages have claimed the crown of “best vintage ever.”
The vintage was not without its challenges. A late and cool spring led to a delayed bud break and cool summer
producing a moderately large crop (17,571 tons compared to 20,368 tons in 2007 and 21,364 tons in 2009)
Rains arrived in September, creating the potential for mold. Seven weeks of Indian summer warm weather
followed the rains and persisted into October, increasing the potential for high sugars and over ripe flavors.
Vintners were able to pick at their leisure, and harvest extended all the way past Halloween. Wineries that
harvested Pinot Noir earlier before sugars escalated brought in fresh fruit and the resulting wines were stellar.
The character of the 2008 vintage Pinot Noirs was said to be midway between the preceding 2006 and 2007
vintages, with generous, forward fruit typical of the 2006 Pinot Noirs, but less extracted, with better freshness
and balance than the 2006 wines, combined with the acidity and brightness of the 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs.
The alcohols were higher and the tannins more evident in 2008 than in 2007, but still moderate.
The consensus when the 2008 Oregon Pinot Noirs were released was that they provided potentially superb
drinking pleasure, but were somewhat closed and tannic upon release, lacking in up front accessibility. The
wines I tasted after release were generally brooding and reticent upon opening, displaying more charm with
decanting, but lacking in suppleness. They had great structure for aging and I recommended that they be
cellared for an extended time.
It has been over five years since most of the 2008 Pinot Noirs were released, and I decided to revisit a
representative sample of these wines that had been resting in my cellar to evaluate their current drink ability.
The quality of the wines overall was superb. Drink ability was a mixed bag with some wines currently offering
fresh flavors, long finishes and supple tannins, while other wines were still closed and exhibited aggressive
tannins. Some of these latter wines will always be at least mildly tannic. Flavors ran the gamut from perfectly
ripe to very ripe, reflective of when the grapes were picked, but most featured riper purple and black fruits.
2008 LaVelle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
reddish purple color in the glass. Haunting aromas of fresh cherries and
baking spices. Very fresh and vibrant flavors of black cherry and
raspberry in a mid weight style with soft, lush tannins, a compliment of
oak, and admirable harmony. This wine had amazing staying power over
time in the glass. Drinking perfectly now.
2008 Antica Terra Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass.
Aromas of black cherry, sous-bois, spicy oak and wine cave lead to a moderately rich palate of black cherry,
black raspberry and anise flavors. Still showing firm tannins but quite enjoyable, especially for its showy, fruitfilled
finish. Peaking now, but could hold short term.
2008 Lenné Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Captivating aromas of black cherry pie, spice, rose petal and Prada
leather coat. Deep and bold black cherry and boysenberry fruit flavors,
but with good freshness. Substantial, but not imposing tannins persist.
Long and memorable finish. Thoroughly enjoyable now, but probably
better in 2 to 3 years, and should easily hold for another several years.
2008 Daedalus Cellars Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately light red
cherry color in the glass. Terrific aromatic presence with vivid
aromas of cherry and rose petal. Juicy and light on its feet,
feminine in character, with a charge of cherry and red berry fruit
on the attack and an amazingly long finish that seems to return in
waves. Ideal now, but could hold short to mid term.
2008 Patton Valley Vineyard Lorna-Marie Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc.. An estate grown,
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, dusty oak and mesquite.
Soft and silky on the palate with juicy flavors of cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. Modest in weight with
supple tannins and some finishing burst of fruit. Enjoyable now but could hold short to mid term.
2008 Domaine Serene Two Barns Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A very ripe fruited wine with scents of cherry, sassafras, leather
and peppercorn leading to a full-bodied, sappy palate of black cherry and black raspberry fruits accented with a
touch of oak-driven spice and vanilla. The tannic backbone is apparent but not aggressive. Enjoyable now or
hold short term.
2008 Laura Volkman Vineyards Jacob Estate Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
cherry color in the glass. Fruity aromas of black cherry and black raspberry with a hint of sous-bois initially with
a noticeable oak overlay appearing over time in the glass. The mid weight flavors of ripe black cherries clothed
in very fine-grain tannins and toasty oak. Silky and smooth in the mouth with a modest finish. This is the one
wine of those tasted from the 2008 vintage that seems a bit tired and should be drunk up.
2008 Ponzi Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Very shy nose with primarily oak and BBQ aromas with no fruit appearing over time. Still very
reserved and rugged with full bodied flavors of black raspberry, boysenberry, cassis, spice and toasty oak. The
tannins are still mildly foreboding. Best to cellar this wine several more years.
2008 Ponzi Vineyards Abetina Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas
of blackberry jam and cassis. A big-boned wine that has layers of purple and black
fruits that saturate the palate. There are plenty of muscular tannins evident, yet the
mouthfeel is smooth. The finish is striking with persistent and infused with generous
sweet boysenberry fruit. Cellar this wine mid to long term for full enjoyment.
2008 Domaine Drouhin Laurène Drouhin Family Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc.. A selection of the finest lots from the estate vineyard, produced since 1992.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of black cherry pie glaze, brown spices, leather, smoke and vanilla.
Delicious mid weight flavors of very ripe black cherry and raspberry fruits with a hint of smoky oak. Close, but
not yet supple, with modest dry, fine-grain tannins. The finish is long and pleasing with a flourish of cherry
goodness. Enjoyable now, but would hold mid to long term.
2008 Antica Terra Botanica Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Medium reddish purple hue in the
glass. Scents of fresh raspberry coulis with hints of candied rose, spice, and toasty oak. Very smooth on the
palate with soft tannins, offering middleweight flavors of dark red raspberry and cherry with an underlying vein
of earthy minerality. A prominent oak presence spoils the experience for me and the oak was even more
noticeable the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Your tolerance for
oak will dictate your pleasure. Enjoyable now or hold mid term.
2008 Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards Lange Estate Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry pie glaze, boysenberry
jam, conifer and dried herbs lead to a rich mouthful of sweet darker cherry and purple berry fruits. Still young,
with somewhat daunting oak and tannin on the fruit-filled finish. When tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit was more apparent and pleasing and the wine was slightly
more supple. Hold mid to long term in the cellar.
2008 Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards Freedom Hill Vineyard Eola- Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Very dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of blackberry jam, purple grape,
spice and rose petal. A full-bodied charge of boysenberry and
blackberry fruits fill the mouth with astonishing fruit intensity. Monstrous
tannins back the prodigious fruit and infuse the finish with some
astringency. When tasted the following day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle, the wine was still monolithic, but the mouthfeel was
smoother and the tannins less daunting. This is close to Syrah in
character and atypical for Oregon. Decant it now if you want to pop the
cork and pair it with a prime ribeye steak. Best to hold mid to long term.
2008 White Rose Estate White Rose Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc.. This wine was reviewed in December 2014 and the review is repeated here.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, stem, roasted nuts, graham and chocolate.
Mid weight + flavors of cherry, black raspberry and cranberry with a touch of brioche, tobacco and cola. Intense
on the attack with a burst of cherry fruit, finishing with good length. The tannins are well-integrated and the
texture is very smooth. Enjoyable now, but plenty of lively fruit to easily last another five years.
2008 TYEE Wine Cellars Estate Barrel Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
light reddish purple color in the glass. Extravagantly perfumed with aromas of cherry, raspberry and
spice. Bright and exquisitely balanced, with a very seductive charge of cherry goodness that lasts and
lasts on the finish. Great now, but plenty of backbone to last long term.
2008 Winderlea Ana Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
cherry red color with very slight rim bricking. Lovely scent of black cherry, spice and a hint of espresso. Silky
smooth on the palate, with waves of luscious black cherry cola flavor, backed by a tug of toasty oak. Birds
would love these grapes. Perfect now but will hold mid term.
2008 Kelley Fox Wines Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass with very slight rim bricking. A very silky and elegant wine that
offers appealing aromas and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry, underlain with a stem and root
vegetable thread. The thirst quenching finish leaves a lasting impression. Enjoyable now or can be aged short
2008 Johan Vineyards Nils Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple
color with very slight rim bricking. Aromas of dried rose petal, spice, barnyard and sweaty saddle (probable
Brett). Delicious mid weight core of ripe cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruits framed by dry, balanced
tannins. A real mouthful of fruit that offers an impressive attack and finish. Best now or can be cellared short
term. Your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for Brett.
2008 Haden Fig Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Aromas of cherry pie glaze, underbrush and the slightest oak lead to bright and juicy flavors of cherry, red
raspberry and red plum. The wine still has a firm tannic backbone. The finish is replete with cherry goodness.
Enjoyable now or can be cellared short term.