The following wines were sampled over the last two months. There are some real treasures in here. Details on most wineries can be found in the Winery Directory on the Prince of Pinot
2006 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $24. Certified organic
and biodynamic vineyards.
Fairly dark reddish-purple color. The aromas emerge with time in the glass
offering plum, blackberry and herbs. Mildly tart berry and cherry fruit flavors on the lean side with a touch of
herbs and wood, finishing with a tangy bite. Needs food.
2006 Chehalem 3 Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc.,4,053 cases, $32
screw cap. Chehalem (Chuh-hay-lum) is a local Calapooia Indian word best translated as “gentle
land” or “valley of flowers.” Chehalem has 260 planted acres on 600 total acres in three AVAS
(Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge). Chehalem was launched in 1990 by
Harry Peterson-Nedry along with Bill and Cathy Stoller. This wine is the first release of the
vintage and is ready to drink. It is sourced from three estate vineyards: Ridgecrest (25%),
Stoller (60%), and Corral Creek (15%). Aged 9 months in 25% new, 27% one-use, and 48%
multiple-use French barrels. DE filtrated.
Bright confected strawberry and cherry scents similar
to a Beaujolais wine. A pleasing core of earth-kissed red fruit which is lightly weighted with a
short, dry finish that leaves a little heat in its wake.
2006 Capitello Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $34. Crafted by Ray Walsh, a New Zealander who
formerly was the winemaker at King Estate in Oregon. He makes his wine in rented space at Territorial
Vineyards & Wine Company in Eugene. The wine comes from several vineyard sources.
Stylish scents of ripe
dark fruits, barnyard, earth and smoke. The cherry and raspberry flavors are long and tasty if a bit flat with mild
drying tannins and a hint of citrus on the back end.
2006 Raptor Ridge Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
15.1% alc., <480
cases, $37. The name of this producer comes from the 27-acre estate in the Chehalem Mountains that is
populated by raptors (birds of prey).
Pleasant and complex perfume of red Pinot fruits, herbs, vegetable
garden, vitamins and pears. Earthy and brooding on the palate with flavors of dark cherries and currents and a
hint of green tomato. With time in the glass, more red fruits emerge, including red cherries and cranberries.
Admirable elegance and balance with the alcohol perfectly integrated.
2006 Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $40. A barrel selection from
four estate vineyards on Chehalem Mountain and a few barrels from northern Willamette Valley.
perfume of strawberry, cherry and fresh herbs. The restrained flavors echo the nose but don’t deliver the
intensity of the aromas. A lighter-styled wine that is quite feminine and smooth. The scent trumps the taste
2006 ROCO Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $40, screw cap. A
blend of vineyards including winemaker Rollin Soles’ own Wit’s End Vineyard.
Subdued scents of dark red cherries and red licorice which blossom with
time in the glass. Delicious cherry and berry fruit that is soft in the mouth
with no perceptible tannin, this harmonious wine glides smoothly to a
slightly tangy and refreshing finish. The 2005 version of this wine might be a
skosh better, but this one has plenty to recommend.
2006 St. Innocent Momtazi Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 413 cases, $40. The
Momtazi Vineyard is located in the McMinnville AVA and is farmed biodynamically. This wine is sourced from three blocks planted in 1999 and 2004. Aged 16 months in 35% new oak. Unfined and unfiltered.
sports bright black cherries, lavender and a hint of alcohol. Dense and dark fruit core with grilled meat and tar,
and substantial tannins. A bit disjointed now and reserved, this wine deserves a few years in the cellar but it
will always show plenty of alcohol.
2006 St. Innocent Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 923 cases, $40. From a block of Shea Vineyard planted in 1990 on
shallow Willakenzie soil. Yields 1.9 tons/acre. 100% de-stemmed, 1-2 day
cold maceration, fermented in two small tanks, aged 16 months in 35% new
French oak, unfined and unfiltered. Mark Vlossek is the winemaker.
Comforting scents of strawberry and raspberry jam with baking spices and
herbs. Vigorous flavor and character with oodles of rich, dark red berry and
cherry fruit, musk, and raw beef with a healthy tannic backbone and a relatively long
finish. Put this one away and forget about it for a few years and you will be rewarded.
2006 Torii Mor Deux Verres Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
1,000 cases, $40. Select barrels from nine vineyards, mostly in the Dundee Hills
(60%), with the rest from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. ”Deux Verres” means two
glasses in French. The artist on the label is Janice Griffin from Portland, Oregon.
A touch of VA blows off revealing lovely scents of ripe cherries, baking spice,
cedar and sage. Lovely and elegant in style featuring black cherry and blackberry
compote and a deft touch of oak. The well-endowed tannins are smooth and the
wine leaves a juicy impression on the finish.
2006 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45.
This wine is as
different from the 2005 version as night and day. Scents of bright red cherries and strawberries, a
veritable “farmer’s market” of summer fruit. Vigorous and open with plenty of raspberry, Chinese 5 spice
and subtle oak char flavor. Still young and a tad tight, but it would be hard to keep your hands off this
one now. A flat-out beautiful wine. (The 2005 DDO Laurene has just been released).
2006 Beaux Frères Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., $50. A blend
of Carabella Vineyard(29%), Shea Vineyard (26%), Zena Heights Vineyard
(20%), Amelie Robert (17%) and Ana (8%).
Rich and deep dark cherry and
berry fruits nicely spiced and oaked with savory herbs leaping out.
Moderately light-bodied with a sexy silkiness and lively acidity providing zip
and zing. A very well crafted wine that offers the Beaux Frères experience
for 2/3 the price of the estate bottling. I thought I could taste a little savory Parker in
2006 Ken Wright Cellars Abbott Claim Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $50. This vineyard is on a ridge line on the east side of the
Yamhill-Carlton district and is owned by Ken and Karen Wright. Mark Gould manages the
vineyard. The label on Ken Wright wines pays homage to field workers depicting the
practice of pruning.
Darker fruit aromas are dominated by toasted oak and dried herbs.
Both red and black earth-dusted fruits are teasing now but the wine is brooding and
reticent. Beautifully balanced with moderate tannins that need softening. Great stuffing
here, but this wine needs a couple of years to flesh out.
2006 Torii Mor Dundee Hills Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 425 cases, $50. Composed of
special barrels chosen by winemaker Jacques Tardy. 50% La Colina Vineyard, 23% Olson Estate Vineyard
and 26% Bella Vida Vineyard.
The nose is clamped shut offering a touch of red berry fruit and spearmint
scents. Welcoming wild berry flavors are complimented by a nice touch of oak and a citric tang on the lively
finish. Smoothly textured. The fruit is still quite reticent assuring this wine won’t win any beauty contests now,
but it definitely has plenty of allure that will emerge down the road.
2006 Lost Highway Project Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc, 150
cases, $55. A special release from Bergström Wines sourced from three
vineyards: Nysa 1/3, Bergström 1/3, and de Lancellotti 1/3. Produced in conjunction
with Vine Street Imports (VSI), an importer of fine wine that collaborates with
winemakers to create original and exclusive bottlings with labels designed by
internationally acclaimed artists. Beginning in 2002, a unique wine has been
released each year by VSI.
Very dark reddish-purple color. Inviting dark themed
nose of blackberry jam, chocolate and mocha. Plush, rich, and darkly
fruited with subtle oak and forest floor accents. A powerful wine that needs
time to assimilate the substantial tannins, but it will always be a glamazon.
2006 Scott Paul Audrey Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $55 (sold out). This is the top bottling from Scott Paul, a special
cuvee of the best barrels in the cellar. Named after Audrey Hepburn.
“Burgundian” nose of deep red fruits, cinnamon, cardamon, and barnyard.
Big and serious, the dark fruit core is all crushed silk. Still simple and
closed, with a touch of alcohol peeking out on the nose and finish. Not
ready for prime time and patience will be rewarded.
2006 Brick House Evelyn’s Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $59. Brick House’s
vineyards have been certified organic since 1990 and Demeter certified biodynamic since 2005.
The nose is
unsettling, taking me back to my days in the operating room. It has that hospital ward or operating room aroma
with very little fruit showing up. A big and brooding wine with copious cherry and strawberry fruit and plenty of
tannin on a mildly hot finish. This wine should be cellared. It is likely this was a bum bottle.
2006 Bethel Heights Vineyard Casteel Reserve Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $60. From a LIVE and
Salmon Safe vineyard (see feature on sustainability in this issue).
beautiful wine of great style and sensuality. Demure scents of Bing
cherry, black raspberry, baking spice and forest floor. Long and smooth
flavors duplicate the aromas with an appealing earthiness. Full in the
mouth showing a deft use of oak and finishing with a dusting of finegrained
tannin. Balanced, gorgeous and pure. Give this wine another year for a
2006 Bergström Winery Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
760 cases, $65. A barrel selection from the East Hill portion of Shea Vineyard. Clones 115, 777, 828 and
Leads off with dark fruits, a hint of spice, sandalwood and alcohol. A big and weighty muscular
style with thick earth, wood, tar, char, mushroom and black stone fruit flavors. Smooth in texture with wellcorralled
tannins and a mildly dry finish. This wine makes a statement but I am not totally receptive to this big
style. Hearty food would tame the wine now, but cellaring the wine a few years would be preferable.
2005 Scott Paul Le Paulée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $35. This wine is assembled from the
best lots of the vintage including blocks of Ribbon Ridge, Shea and Stoller vineyards. Demure aromas of
cherry, wet oak and tobacco.
Cranberry and tart cherry flavors with savory herbs and a touch of orange zest.
Light and elegant with a healthy acid spine.
2005 Sineann Lachini Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $37.
Complex and alluring
aromas of cherries, exotic woods, vanillin, and caramel. Dark red cherries, sassafras, and oak spice flavors
with significant drying tannins which dominate the fruit now. The finish is a touch sour. This wine still needs
time to soften the tannins but they will always be prominent.
2005 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $45.
This winery represents the first Burgundian presence in Oregon, begun in 1987
by Maison Joseph Drouhin. The 225 acre estate in the Dundee Hills is under the
leadership of fourth generation winemaker, Veronique Drouhin-Boss.
wine takes at least 30 minutes to come together after popping the cork, but even
then it is a tight and stubborn wine that needs more time. Plenty of herbs, hay,
and marzipan on the nose. Tart cherry compote which reluctantly reveals its
charms accentuated by earth, herbs and oak. Silky and seamless. Like the Dark
Knight, suave but sinister.
2002 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., $50. The Eyrie Vineyards was established in 1966 and is the oldest continuous
producer of vinifera wines in the Willamette Valley. Founder David Lett recently retired
after 37 vintages. His last vintage was 2004, with son Jason Lett taking over the
management of the winery beginning in 2005. The Reserve wines are typically released
several years after the vintage.
This delicately crimson-colored wine sneaks up on you. At
first pass it seems light and acidic, but it grows on you as it expands and evolves in the
glass. The nose is quite shy, offering tart cherries and dried herb aromas. Very light and
lean on the palate, the red fruits are backed by baking spices, roasted nuts and savory
garden herbs. A distinctive style that won’t appeal to those who prefer bold and fruity