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Recently Tasted Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

DION Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains

Three generations have been stewards of the family owned Dion Vineyard. Kevin Dion Johnson and Beth Klingner are currently in charge. The vineyard consists of 60 acres of southerly slopes rooted in Laurelwood soils at elevations of 300 to 500 feet. The Laurelwood soils tend to reflect the higher tones of red fruits (pomegranate, red cherry and strawberry) more so than other Willamette Valley areas. Also, the vintners at DION Vineyard tend to pick on the front end of ripeness resulting in lower alcohols, pleasing acidity and more elegance. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are primarily grown here. Some vines are over 30 years old. The winery website is www.dionvineyards.com.

2014 DION Vineyard Winemaker’s Reserve Limited Release Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 125 cases, $40. (November 2016 release). Clone 115 planted in 2000 is the anchor of this wine with small amounts of clones 114, 667 and 777 from the same block and a little old vine Pommard for the first time. Harvest Brix 23.6º-24.4º. A barrel selection. Aged in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, cherry and sandalwood lead to a lighter but flavorful experience featuring tastes of red cherry, cranberry and herbs. Beautifully balanced, with crisp acidity and harmonious tannins. This wine has more flair and length than one would expect from the light color. A rather delicate, feminine wine that delivers appealing charm. Score: 91



Lenné Estate, Yamhill-Carlton

I have enjoyed reviewing many wines from this outstanding Yamhill County Pinot Noir producer. The wines come exclusively from the 20.9-acre estate vineyard that is ideally situated with a steep south-facing slope at a perfect elevation as well as poor soils. The 2014 vintage Lenné Estate Pinot Noirs are bigger styled, powerful and fruit forward wines with notable tannin. They currently are somewhat shy, simple and lack some aromatic charm, so it would be advisable to cellar these wines a couple of years. Owner and winemaker Steve Lutz considers 2014 “a remarkable vintage.” He feels the vintage is similar to 2008 in many ways and predicts the wines will be long lived. If you must pop the cork now, decant and serve with some protein like steak or cheese to counter the big fruit tannins. Steve considers the age ability to be 6-10+ years after release for all but the Le Nez wine that is meant for earlier consumption. I have given a range of scores for the wines because they were difficult for me to accurately predict their future based on their current reluctant attitude. Damn Pinot Noir is quite the vexing mistress.

The wines are available on the winery’s website at www.leneeestate.com.

2014 Lenné Estate Le Nez Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $30. The infant wine of Lenné Estate. Contains all the vineyard clones including 114, 667, 777, 115 and Pommard. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers a welcome balance between savory sois-bois and cherry and cranberry fruit aromas. Very approachable, with discreet flavors of black cherry, purple grape, smoky chocolate, and seasoned oak. Rather simple, with a modest attack and slightly astringent finish. More fruity the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 88

2014 Lenné Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $45. Signature wine composed of the best barrels of the harvest. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose becomes more haunting over time in the glass, offering aromas of blackberry, cassis, black raspberry, sousbois, and spice. The mid weight core of purple and black fruits are not particularly giving on the palate. The tannins are evident but supportive, there is a savory thread in the background, and the finish offers good depth of flavor. Unchanged the following day when re-tasted from an opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89-91

2014 Lenné Estate Eleanor’s 114 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.60, 100 cases, $55. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A generous, somewhat lush wine, with deep aromas and flavors of black cherry and blackberry accented with notes of licorice, black tea and spice. Largely fruit-driven, with grippy but not drying tannins. A bit rugged now, yet some charm peaks through. The wine was more interesting the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89-91

2014 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.57, 100 cases, $55. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very pleasant nose displaying vivid aromas of boysenberry, black currant, dark chocolate, and a hint of floral bouquet. Layers of luscious black cherry and boysenberry fruits are currently buried in muscular tannins. Showing plenty of fruit but little nuance, and finishing on a slightly astringent note. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine still lacked charm. Time will tell. Score: 88-90

2014 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.57, 100 cases, $55. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very pleasant nose displaying vivid aromas of boysenberry, black currant, dark chocolate, and a hint of floral bouquet. Layers of luscious black cherry and boysenberry fruits are currently buried in muscular tannins. Showing plenty of fruit but little nuance, and finishing on a slightly astringent note. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine still lacked charm. Time will tell. Score: 88-90

2014 Lenné Estate Karen’s Pommard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.58, 125 cases, $55. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark berry jam and sous-bois pick up intensity over time in the glass. Earthy black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors are wrapped in conspicuous tannins. The fruit load is slightly less in this wine compared to other Lenné offerings in this vintage. The wine has all the components in place, but remains primary and fruit-driven. Still relatively closed up when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90-91

2014 Lenné Estate Kill Hill Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.60, 112 cases, $55. A blend of 667 and 14 clones from the most challenging part of the vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of blackberry, black raspberry and cassis. Juicy and lifted with a luscious core of well-ripened purple and black fruits. Better integration of tannins, and the smooth and seamless mouthfeel is quite seductive. A hint of alcohol warmth shows up on the finish. This wine is more giving currently than others in the Lenné lineup in this vintage. Unchanged the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90-91

2014 Lenné Estate cinq e'lus Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $80. Pronounced “sank aloo,” this wine represents a blend of the best barrel from each of the vineyard’s five different clonal blocks. Only produced in great vintages. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is reserved but pleasant, featuring aromas of dark berries and spice. Beautifully balanced and sporting a light footprint, this wine is clearly classy. Mid weight flavors of black raspberry, boysenberry, plum and spice light up the palate. Oak plays a favorable seasoning role. This wine has more fruit talking and more finish. Still shy aromatically the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, but the potential for this wine is obvious. “Sank aloo” rhymes with “thank you,” and we have to give thanks for wines like this. Score: 92-93



VIDON Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains

VIDON Vineyard is located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA at an elevation of 300 to 500 feet. The site is southwest facing, very warm, and contains deep volcanic Jory soil. The three blocks of Dijon clone 777 and 115, and Pommard, were planted in 2000 and 2001 with a vine density of 1,555 per acre. The wines represent the 12th vintage for farmer and winemaker Don Hagge.

The grapes are de-stemmed into 1.5-ton fermentation tanks. A 3 to 5-day cold soak is followed by spontaneous fermentation with feral yeasts. The cap is punched down by hand. The wines are in the winery’s barrel room where they undergo malolactic fermentation. The wines are estate grown, produced and bottled.

The winery website is www.vidonvineyard.com.

2014 VIDON Vineyard Brigita Clone 777 Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.55, 125 cases, $50. Released November 2016. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose leads with hi-tone scents of black cherry, dark raspberry, dried herbs and toasty oak. The core of black cherry and blackberry fruits are ripe and ebullient, framed by complimentary oak. Silky in the mouth, with noticeable length and purpose on the finish. More engaging the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with a strikingly fruity nose and an appealing savory bent accenting the generous fruit flavors. Score: 91

2014 VIDON Vineyard Mirabelle Clone 115 Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.55, 100 cases, $50. Released November 2016. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Complex nose featuring aromas of briery raspberry, black cherry, hazelnut paste and oak spice. Exuberant blueberry, boysenberry and black raspberry flavors are underlain with a savory herbal thread in a middleweight styled wine with enmeshed tannins and a compliment of nutty oak. More appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90

2014 VIDON Vineyard Hans Pommard Clone Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.55, 148 cases, $50. Released November 2016. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of cherry, rose petal and underbrush. In the mouth, the attack of purple grape and berry flavors are lifted and lively and framed by caressing tannins. The finish is extremely long and the wine seems to slip off the back of the palate like silk. Unchanged when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92



Willful Wine Co., Portland

Owner and winemaker Pam Walden crafts Pinot Noir at an urban winery in Portland. She enjoys working with Pommard clone for its elegance and texture, especially in a warm vintage like 2014 when it tends to ripen later and retain more grip than other clones. The wines reviewed here represent outstanding value. Visit the winery website at www.willfulwine.com.

2015 Jezebel Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $18, screwcap. Second label of Willful Wine Co.. Sourced from several vineyards and crafted in an approachable style. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with scents of black cherry, spice and a hint of butterscotch. An easygoing, light to mid weight wine that is fresh, lively and juicy, featuring a core of black cherry fruit framed by supportive tannins. A solid everyday Pinot. Score: 89

2014 Willful Wine Co. Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 600 cases, $26. 80% Pommard clone from Northridge and Sproed vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills and 20% clone 115 from Stormy Morning Vineyard in the coastal foothills. Native fermentation and aged in French oak barrels, about 10% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of earth-kissed muddled cherry and cranberry lead off. Highly expressive on the palate, with an appealing core of cherry essence. Elegantly composed, with modest tannins, a satiny mouthfeel, and some length on the finish. An excellent value. Score: 90

2014 Willful Wine Co. Winemaker Cuvée Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 130 cases, $45. A blend of winemaker Pam Walden’s favorite six barrels from the 2014 vintage. Five barrels are Pommard clone from Northridge Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. The sixth barrel is clone 115 from Stormy Morning Vineyard. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Right off this wine strikes you as serious. A deep fruited nose features aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and black currant. The flavors replicate the aromas in a mid weight styled wine that delivers the ripe, dark fruits typical of the warm 2014 vintage. Very satisfying, with good structure and length, offering balance for age ability. Score: 92


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