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Panther Creek Cellars, located in McMinnville, OR, has been producing Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay since 1986. The more recent history of the winery is told in the charming book written by Linda Kaplan, whose spouse, Ron, quit his law firm in Des Moines and bought Panther Creek Cellars. With little wine knowledge, the story details their trials and tribulations. Liz Chambers and family members were the second owners who passed the name and brand on to Bacchus Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm. Chambers and family retained the winery in McMinnville and plan to launch a new label, Elizabeth Chambers Cellars.
In 2013, Bacchus Capital hired winemaker Tony Rynders replacing Michael Stevenson. Stevenson will be the winemaker for the Elizabeth Chambers label and continue to make wine under his own label, Stevenson-Barrie, at the same winery.
Grapes are sourced from well-known vineyards in the Willamette Valley and the winery is known for producing consistently high quality vineyard-designated PInot Noirs including wines from Shea Vineyard, Temperance Hill Vineyard, and Freedom Hill Vineyard. The winery is in McMinnville's former power plant in downtown McMinnville. The tasting room is located inside the main winery production area and is open daily. The wines are sold through the winery's online store.
2013 Panther Creek Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.5% alc., 1,500 cases, $18. 100% stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. Olsen, Wildewood and Kramer vineyards. · Light golden yellow color with a slight orange rim tinge in the glass. Shy aromas of yellow apple, pear and nuts. A pleasing food wine with modestly weighted flavors of pear, apple, and white peach. Smooth on the palate with a good cut of acidity. Score: 88. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Panther Creek Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 1,290 cases, $30. A vineyard blend from Van Duzer and Amity vineyards. Aged 9 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak. · Moderately deep reddish purple color in the glass. Riper fruited with aromas of dark red cherries and berries, a little earthy flora, and even a touch of prune. Impressive attack and finish of dark red cherry, pomegranate and plum flavors. Well-structured with a suave presence and adept oak management. Finishes with a good charge of black cherry fruit. Score: 89. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »
2011 Panther Creek Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 749 cases, $50. A barrel selection consisting of 72% Lazy River Vineyard and 28% Freedom Hill Vineyard fruit. Aged 18 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak. · Light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of red pie cherries, strawberries and spicy oak lead to an elegant, even delicate wine, offering flavors of red fruits, spice and oak. Reflects the vintage, with a paucity of fruit stuffing and ripeness. Score: 88. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »
2010 Panther Creek Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 197 cases, $50. Aged 16 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of black cherry, spice and a touch of caramelized oak. The tasteful core of black cherry, black currant and black raspberry fruit is burdened by a heavy oak overlay with prominent flavors of smoke and tobacco. Discreetly concentrated with some finishing intensity. Score: 87. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »
2009 Panther Creek Cellars Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 925 cases, $45. Current release. Willakenzie soils over fractured sandstone. Clones 114, 667, 777, Pommard and Wädenswil. Aged 16 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, briar, cigar box and hickory are inviting. A generous wine with flavors of black cherry and black raspberry that fan out nicely on the palate, complimented by oak flavors that fold in nicely. The fruit is plush yet vibrant with an obvious esteemed pedigree. The wine aims to please with a generous burst of fruit on the finish. Score: 90. Reviewed October 27, 2013 ARTICLE »
2008 Libra Mystic Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 175 cases, $25. From Panther Creek Cellars. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of oak and cigar box with black and red fruits in the background. Dilute flavors of cherries and berries with plenty of oak-driven toast and mocha. Better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Deserves a few years in the cellar. Decent. Reviewed August 11, 2011 ARTICLE »