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Tasting the Six Appellations with Grape Radio

Grape Radio hosts Jay Selman and Eric Anderson joined me recently to taste 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs representing each of the six sub-appellations (there was one 2005 vintage wine). I am trying to educate Jay about Pinot Noir and it is a long, arduous and thankless task. The convivial banter can be heard on an upcoming Grape Radio podcast.

Chehalem Mountains

2006 ArborBrook Vineyards Estate 777 Block Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., $30. · Plenty of oak and herbs on the nose with a hint of alcohol. Prolific earth-kissed black cherry and plummy fruit with mild tannins and zingy acidity. Lacks complexity.

2006 Laura Volkman Vineyards Jacob Estate Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $42. · A highly perfumed nose of dark cherry and berry fruits with a toast and coffee accent. Earthy black cherry with a seamless texture and supple tannins. I have tasted this wine on multiple occasions and it never fails to make the hair on my neck stand erect.

Dundee Hills


Eola-Amity Hills




Ribbon Ridge


Yamhill-Carlton District


Every taster had their favorites but the fact remains that Oregon is producing regal Pinot Noirs with plenty of welcoming balance, length and acidity. Could we match these wines to their respective sub-appellations if tasted blind? No way, except maybe the Dundee Hills Pinot Noirs. Nevertheless, it is a commendable geeky pastime to talk about Pinot Noir characteristics from the different sub-appellations.

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