Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir
The 2012 vintage in the Willamette Valley produced wines that generally are riper, more extracted, with more
tannin and higher in alcohol than the past two cool vintages. Some writers have been critical, claiming the
wines are more fruit-driven and California in style. I say, hey, that is what the vintage gave, and celebrate the
glorious, opulent fruit flavors. Many of the wines will benefit from a year or two more in bottle.
Big Table Farm
2012 Big Table Farm Sunnyside Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 230 cases, $48. The
owners of this vineyard have tended it for over 30 years.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Appealing
initially, with bright aromas of berry jam, spice and subtle smoky oak, picking up appeal over time in the glass.
A mid weight, glorious combination of plum and boysenberry fruits with a riff of smoke and anise. The fruit is
ripe but not over ripe and definitely makes a statement. The texture is silky, the tannins are reserved, and the
finish offers a good cut of citrus-driven acidity. This wine could use a little more time in bottle for the smoky oak
to fully integrate.
2012 Big Table Farm Cattrall Brothers Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 161 cases, $49.
Tom and Bill Cattrall organically farm this vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. Own-rooted Wädenswil vines.
Fermented 50% whole cluster.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of
black cherry, Marionberry, briar patch and tobacco oak. Modest in concentration but highly flavorful, with a
good tannic backbone and acid spine. The middleweight flavors of plum reduction sauce and berry preserves
are somewhat sappy and accented with a tug of oak. The lip smacking good finish is riff with bright acidity.
2012 Big Table Farm Wirtz Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 232 cases, $48.
reddish purple hue in the glass. Highly aromatic, with bright scents of fresh raspberry coulis, cherry sauce,
spice and a bit of smoky oak. A lovely wine with character, displaying a discreetly concentrated core of black
cherry and black raspberry fruit. Definitely ripe but not over ripe, with a complimentary accent of oak-driven
anise and black tea. The finish is persistent and highly pleasing, driven by tart cherry acidity. Tasted the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, more floral and spice accents appear, and the
soft, fine tannins make for a dreamy mouthfeel.
2012 Big Table Farm Resonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 326 cases, $48. Last
vintage from this vineyard which was sold to Burgundy producer
Louis Jadot in 2013.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. The nose is stunning, with an array of nuanced scents
including plum, blackberry, black raspberry, sous-bois, exotic
spices and bark. Mid weight plus core of well-ripened purple
and black fruits, nicely spiced with well-integrated oak. Very fruity,
slightly sweet and juicy, with a firm tannic backbone. Bigger, riper and
sappier in this vintage as one would expect from a site in a warmer
vintage. Evolves beautifully over time in the glass and is much better
later in the day, offering a remarkably long grand cru finish. A
memorable swan song.
2011 Broadley Vineyards Claudia’s Choice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $50. Sourced from 7
acres of northeast-facing vines planted mid slope on the estate.
Light reddish purple color in the glass. Fruity
aromas of red cherry, raspberry and strawberry. Light in weight with juicy cherry flavor dominated by smoky,
tobacco oak. The oak simply overwhelms the delicate red fruit core. There is also a green, vegetal thread in
the background. Very mild tannins and easy drink ability.
2012 Broadley Vineyards Claudia’s Choice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 350 cases, $50.
Named after Broadley’s cofounder Claudia Broadley. From a section of the vineyard that ripens later and sets
smaller clusters. Pommard and Wädenswil clones. 40% whole cluster. Wild yeast fermentation. Aged 14-18
months in 40% new French oak barrels. The wine is meant to display a big, complex character.
reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of plum and boysenberry lead to a full-bodied explosion of
luscious purple and black fruit flavors spiced with Coca-Cola, and backed by husky tannins. A prodigious wine
with serious extract and finishing power. Similar the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle with high extraction and healthy tannins. A distinctive style of wine that will benefit from some aging.
2012 Broadley Vineyards Jessica Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 250 cases, $50. Named after Jessica Broadley, Morgan
Broadley’s spouse and partner in Broadley Vineyards. Clones 667 and
115. 80% whole cluster. Wild yeast fermentation. Aged 14-18 months in
50% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Plentiful fruit in this wine that offers scents of black cherry
reduction sauce and blackberry jam, and intense, sappy flavors of purple
and black fruits. There is a complimentary hint of spice and oak and a
slight floral undertone from the whole cluster inclusion. The tannins are
substantial but proportional to the fruit load creating balance. This wine
is not for the timid, but it is nicely composed and will thoroughly satisfy
those seeking out a full-throttle Pinot Noir with whole cluster
2011 Croft Vineyards Savoir-Vivre! Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $35. Made from organically
grown grapes. Croft Vineyards has grown grapes organically for over 30 years. This wine is made from grapes
from some of the oldest vines. Produced and bottled by 720 Wine Cellars in Philomath.
purple hue in the glass. Aromas of raspberry, Damson plum, peppery spices, stem and oak. Light to mid
weight flavors of red cherry, red raspberry and red plum with a savory herbal thread in the background. Soft on
the palate with mild fine-grained tannins, and a slightly tart, cherry-driven finish. Pleasant but not exceptional.
de Lancellotti Family Vineyards
2012 de Lancellotti Onelia Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy aromas of
berries on the vine with a woodsy undertone. Delicious and super
intense core of cherry and raspberry fruits, finishing with power and
length. The fruit is complimented by a touch of oak vanillin. Slightly
grippy tannins show up on the big finish. Plenty of Pinot singing in this
wine. Needs bottle aging for the aromas to arrive.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon
2011 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Édition Limitée Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
245 cases, $85. Estate grown. Mostly from a single block planted in 1998, with a little of a neighboring block
planted in 1999.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of oak-kissed black cherry,
sandalwood and baking spice. Very tight and not particularly gregarious, with a medium bodied core of black
cherry, cranberry and raspberry fruits buried in oak and brutish tannins. A little more fruit and spice peeks out
and the tannins are slightly softer the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Three days
later, the opened wine is beginning to shine. This wine is built for the long-haul, and will not appeal if drunk
now unless vigorously decanted.
Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge
The Durants of Dayton, Oregon, are among the state’s pioneering
winegrowers, having planted their first vines in the Willamette Valley in 1973. Today, Durant Vineyards
encompasses 60 acres, and is a prime source of fruit for 14 wineries, such as Patricia Green Cellars, Lange
Estate Winery, Joe Dobbes Wines, Owen Roe, Big Table Farm and Matello. The family also produces 3,000
cases per year of estate wine, crafted by six winemakers who are selected to feature each of the estate
vineyard’s seven blocks. The innovator behind the operation is fourth-generation farmer, Paul Durant. In 2012,
he cofounded the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium, oversees Durant Vineyards, and is the Master Miller for the
family’s Oregon Olive Mill, the only estate olioteca in the Pacific Northwest. Both companies fall under the
umbrella of Red Ridge Farms, a destination that includes a gourmet retail store, nursery, and on site
accommodations. Visit www.redridgefarms.com
2012 Durant Vineyards Bishop Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.67, 204 cases,
$65. Bishop is one of the original 1973 blocks planted to Pommard clone with some own-rooted vines. The
wine is vinified by winemaker Isabelle Dutarte. Harvest Brix 24.2º. Yields 0.75 tons per acre.
reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of oak-dusted black fruits. Lovely purple stone and berry
mid weight sappy fruits with a lush mid palate attack and a vivid and rich fruit-laden finish. A big wine for
Oregon but the fruit is buffered by firm ripe tannins and is not daunting. Similar the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. Give this wine some time for the aromas to arrive and the rich fruit to
2012 Durant Vineyards Olivia Grace Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.61, 165 cases, $60. This block was planted
in 2006 to Pommard clone and is named after one of Paul Durant’s two
daughters. The wine was vinified by winemaker Chad Stock of Minimus
Wines. 100% Pommard clone. Harvest Brix 22.5º, yield 1.5 tons per
Although also made from Pommard clone, this wine is distinctly
different from Bishop. The nose is extravagantly scented with aromas of
cherry, rose petal, and spice. The fruit load is luscious and intense, but
the tannins are more reserved, and this wine displays plenty of vibrancy
and up front enjoyment. Two days later, when tasted from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle, this wine had taken on added interest with
seductive aromas of cherries and spice and a delicious array of red fruit
flavors that spoke Pinot in character.
2012 Evesham Wood Le Puits Sec Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $33. Made from
organic grapes sustainably grown and non-irrigated.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Enchanting aromas of black cherry sauce, exotic spices, and
Herbs de Provence. A captivating, very sexy nose. Soft and
charming on the palate with a discretely concentrated core of spicecharged
dark plum and black raspberry fruits. Beautifully balanced with
enough tannic backbone to age, and a crazy long finish that really
satisfies. This is a wine that stands out from the crowd.
Le Cadeau Vineyard
2012 Le Cadeau Vineyard Merci Reserve Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
95 cases, $80. Release December 2014. The finest barrels from the vintage crafted in tiny quantity. Three
heritage selections. Winemaker is Jim Sanders and growers and owners are Deb and Tom Mortimer.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Exotic aromas elevate the nose including black cherry,
Asian 5-spice, incense and smoke. Full-bodied core of delicious spiced black cherry and blackberry flavors
that are intense and persistent. There is plenty of smoky oak on board ala Henri Jayer. The mouthfeel is
polished and the finish is a joyous celebration of fruit and lip smacking acidity. A very unique wine, but the oak
plays too great a role for me personally.
2012 Matello Souris Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 275
A tête de cuvée. Crafted from old, non-irrigated vines.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of
cherry tart, sandalwood and underbrush. Bright and juicy with light to
mid weight flavors of cherry, raspberry and cranberry. Delicate and
elegant, yet highly flavorful. Firm tannins buttress the fruit and bright
acidity adds tension. The wine finishes with a pleasing grip of cherry
fruit. Still appealing the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle reflecting balance and predicting age ability.
2012 ROCO Wit’s End Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 250 cases, $42,
screwcap. An estate vineyard planted to Dijon clones in sedimentary soil. Winemaker Rollin Soles.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Nicely perfumed with hi-tone scents of fresh cherries, sousbois,
spice and dried rose petals. The core of bright cherry fruit is flavorful and vivid, and complimented by a
deft touch of oak. The tannins are well integrated and the highly pleasurable finish is long and full of Pinot
2012 ROCO Private Stash No. 10 Wit’s End Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 320 cases, $66,
This wine is not as developed as the Wit’s End bottling but
has more potential long term. Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Very pretty aromas of dark red cherry, raspberry and spice box.
Soft, smooth and silky on the palate with delicious flavors of juicy black
cherry and a hint of red licorice. Very seductive, with supple tannins, a
welcome hint of oak, and a good spark of refreshing acidity on the lasting
finish. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, the wine was holding its own, predicting its long term potential.
Shea Wine Cellars
2012 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Block 7 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., $59. Wädenswil
clone from the 5.2-acre non-irrigated Block 7, located on a steep, south-facing slope.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. The nose picks up interest and intensity over time, offering aromas of black cherry,
pomegranate, rose petal, mocha and sandalwood. An earthy undertone compliments the fat, plummy, black
cherry and spice flavors which are accented with oak. Silky in texture, with firm tannins and juicy acidity. The
wine is shy and lacks distinction at this stage. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle, the fruit was more expressive. I would check back in another year.
2012 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard West Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $59.
Wädenswil, 777, 114 and Pommard clones.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
black cherry, black raspberry, cherry leather and bramble lead to a middleweight, juicy wine featuring dark red
and purple fruits. Fruity, with firm tannins and a noticeably silky mouth feel. Nicely balanced, but seems linear and very reserved.
Re-tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was about the same.
2012 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Homer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $79. A blend of the best barrels in the cellar.
Dijon and Wädenswil clones. Aged in 68% new French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very shy and tight, opening
slowly to reveal aromas of black cherry, blackberry and wooded forest.
More body, more life and more finish in this wine. The array of dark
stone and berry fruits sparkle, accented with interesting notes of spice
and anise. A big, masculine wine with plenty of oak overlay and tannic
vigor at this time. Slightly more charming the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. Keep this one in the cellar for a
couple of years.
2011 Soter Mineral Springs Estate Grown Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 540 cases, $85. A selection
created only in a given vintage when something unique begs the
spotlight. This is the fourth bottling of Mineral Springs Pinot Noir and is
sourced primarily from Heirloom clones. 30% whole cluster
fermentation. 30 days extended maceration. Aged 12 months in 50%
new French oak barrels. Racked once for assembly before bottling.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very pleasant nose
with aromas of black raspberry and spice picking up intensity over time in
the glass. Richly fruited with blackberry, plummy, and black currant
flavors, with a touch of blueberry-pomegranate chiming in. Substantial,
but not excessive tannins and a citrus-driven, bright finish. A high-collared
wine of elegance and charm. Still highly aromatic and flavorful
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This beauty will easily age another ten years.
2012 Westrey Justice Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $33.
Winemakers Amy Wesselman and David Autrey. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. A little more oak than fruit on the nose now and a bit tight, offering aromas of black cherry,
fennel, pine and smoky oak. A well-crafted, beautiful wine but the fruit flavors of dark cherry,
blackberry and plum have not fully emerged. Well-structured and mid to full-bodied with a big fruit-driven
finish. Soft and plush, but not overly fat on the palate. Give this wine at least another year in
bottle for full enjoyment.
2012 Westrey Cuvée 20 Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $49. 20th vintage. Sourced from 35-year-old dry-farmed
vines. 25% “Coury clone” Abbey Ridge Vineyard and 75% Pommard
clone Oracle Estate Vineyard. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Somewhat reticent, offering demure aromas of dark red
berries, cherries and sous-bois. Delicious flavors of dark red fruits with
the slightest oak adding a welcome accent. Fresh and juicy with good
tension, balanced tannins, an intense mid palate attack, and a generous
finish displaying a good cut of acidity. Tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was more savory and
slightly gamey with a remarkably long finish. This wine should age
Tyee Wine Cellars
2012 Tyee Wine Cellars Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 400 cases, $28. Released
September 2014. From grapes grown exclusively in the family vineyard adjacent the winery. A combination of
all plantings in the Estate Vineyard from vines 12 to 38 years old. 99 points and #1 wine Portland Monthly
Oregon’s 50 Best Wines 2014. Merrilee Buchanan Benson is the winemaker.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. Aromas of sous-bois, cherry, cranberry, raisin and a hint of oak. Light to mid weight flavors
of dark cherries and purple berries with a hint of teaberry and savory herbs in the background. Silky on the
palate with plenty of firm, dry tannins which tend to dominate the fruit at present. Very Oregonian in style and