Oregon Pinot Noir Starts Here: A Sampling of Entry Level Wines
A number of established wineries that produce multiple tiers of Pinot Noir were asked to share their least
expensive, highest production, early release wine. In addition, I included several similarly priced “starter” Pinot
Noirs from the Willamette Valley.
Besides the quality evident in these modestly priced examples of Oregon Pinot Noir, their large production
insures accessibility for the consumer. With production of Oregon Pinot Noir jumping nearly 40% in the
excellent 2014 vintage, more of these wines will be available in the marketplace. Now is the perfect time to
introduce yourself to 2014 entry level Oregon Pinot Noir.
Because Oregon’s labeling laws are the strictest in the nation, requiring 90% Pinot Noir for wines labeled as
such, Oregon Pinot Noirs are varietally true wines at approachable prices. Most of these wines carry a
Willamette Valley appellation designation. They are often discounted by retailers, especially if purchased in
2014 A to Z Wineworks Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $19, screwcap. Winemaker Michael Davies attempts
to specific vintage traits with each vintage bottling.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Oak-embossed, with
aromas and flavors of blueberries and cherries dipped in espresso. Very elegant, even shallow, with oak barrel
treatment overriding the delicate core of spiced cherry fruit.
2014 Adelsheim Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $32. Winemakers Dave
Paige and Gina Hennen. This blend is meant to be a prism through which one can view the vintage.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Elevating aromas of cherry, raspberry and cocoa
stream from the glass. Quite flavorful, featuring cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate fruits
backed by seasoned oak. A supportive tannic backbone fills out the balance in this enjoyable wine.
2014 Anne Amie Vineyards Winemaker’s Selection Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $25. Winemaker Thomas Houseman crafts this wine from estate vineyards that are
farmed as if they are going to be in the highest bottling they produce. He notes, “We try to make the
best Willamette Valley bottling every year, regardless of what it costs to make it.” Estate grown,
produced and bottled. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 11.4% new, 21.4% 1-year, and 67.2%
neutral. Aged an additional 6 months in bottle. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of cherry and potpourri lead to a lighter weighted style of
wine, offering flavors of red cherry, red berry, spice and oak. Nicely composed and easy to like, with an
admirable fruit-driven finish.
2014 Broadley Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $20. Winemaker Morgan Broadley points out that
the winery has been making this wine since 2002 when it sold
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A
gorgeous wine featuring enticing scents of dark stone and
berry fruits, potpourri and spice. A luscious core of dark red
and black fruits hits the mid palate running and hangs on with
a stranglehold through a long, black cherry driven finish that is juicy and
palate cleansing. The wine’s silky texture and harmony add to the
experience. A very alluring value priced Pinot Noir.
2015 Brooks Runaway Red Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 4,300 cases, $23. A blend of ten
vineyards and a barrel selection. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak
barrels. Tasted at the winery.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A highly approachable wine
with uplifting aromas of cherry and peppery spices. Soft and suave in the mouth with flavors of cherry,
cranberry and spice, finishing with modest intensity.
2014 Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 3,800 cases, $28. A blend of multiple vineyards. 100%
de-stemmed, native fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, bottled after cross-flow filtration.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry pie, spice, floral bouquet and a slight straw
note lead off. Light to mid weight flavors of black cherry and darker cranberry are infused with good acidity and
backed by suave tannins. Forward drinking, with appropriate oak input and a modest finish.
2014 Chehalem Three Vineyard Willanette Valley Pinot Noir
6,625 cases, $32, screwcap. Winemaker Wynne Peterson-
Nedry notes, “In Oregon, the bar has been raised to demand
this be our calling card for the Willamette Valley and the
vintage. A proud introduction before the more pampered wines
are later released.” Primarily Corral Creek and Ridgecrest
vineyards with a small amount of Stoller Vineyard. Aged in a
small amount of new French oak barrels.
Moderately light cherry red
color in the glass. The aromas gain traction over time in the glass,
offering scents of cherry, raspberry and herb garden. Light in weight, with
flavors of black cherry, dark red berry and savory herbs framed by
integrated tannins. Some noticeable length and intensity on the finish.
2013 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $25. Winemaker Gilles
de Domingo. Certified Biodynamic® by Demeter®.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Shy aromas of red cherry
are accompanied by notes of tea leaf and tobacco. The light to mid weight flavors of red cherry and berry are
underlain with an herbal thread suggesting the fruit was under ripe. Rather plain, with soft tannins and a slight
medicinal note. This wine fails to challenge the senses but is very drinkable.
2014 Elk Cove Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $29. Winemakers Adam
Campbell and Heather Perkin attempt to bring the voices of various vineyards together into balance,
representing an art that reflects their style.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Wellscented
with aromas of black cherry and black raspberry. On the mid weight palate, the flavors of
spiced darker berries satisfy. There is a deft touch of oak seasoning, modest dry tannins, a smooth
texture and a pleasing, short-lived finish. A solid everyday offering.
2014 Evolution Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 6,300 cases, $20. From Sokol Blosser Winery.
100% Pinot Noir, aged 85% in stainless steel and 15% in neutral oak for 5 months. Produced to be easy to
drink now at a young age. Some French oak staves are added to the stainless steel tanks for 2-3 months
during aging to enhance mouthfeel and structure.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The pleasing
aroma of black cherry is tempered by scents of tobacco and weed (marijuana). The mid weight core of black
cherry fruit is infused with oak driven notes of spice, tobacco and herbs. Silky in the mouth with minimal tannins
and a modest berry fruited finish. Forward and easy drinking. The wine was delivered to my wine locker on a
day in which the temperature reached 96ºF, but there was no sign of seepage or other heat damage.
2014 Kudos Reserve Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $22.
reddish purple color in the glass. Darker fruit and earth aromas lead off, followed by a well concentrated core of
black cherry and blackberry fruits that have good mid palate intensity and finishing presence. Smooth in the
mouth, with balanced tannins and a deft touch of oak in the background.
2014 Love Oregon Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $28, screwcap. From R. Stuart & Co.Winery. Winemaker Rob
Stuart intends this wine for restaurant by-the-glass pour.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Aromas of underbrush, stem and a hint of volatile acidity. Light weighted with flavors of red berries, savory
herbs and toasty oak. Straight forward and pleasant, with silky tannins and an oak-infused, modest finish.
2014 Montinore “Red Cap” Pinot Noir
$20. Winemaker Stephen Webber points out that Oregon Pinot Noir
doesn’t have to be expensive to be well crafted and delicious. Sourced from Demeter® certified and organic
certified grapes. A blend of estate vineyards, feral fermentation, and barrel aged.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Both savory and fruity, this wine exudes rich, even sweet, flavors of cherry, blueberry
and pomegranate. Oak barrels contribute considerable savory notes such as tobacco. The underlying acidity is
quite bright, and not completely tempered by the tannins that stick out.
2014 Pike Road Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 9,000 cases, $19, screwcap. Inaugural
release from the Campbell family at Elk Cove Vineyards, founded in 1974. Pike Road is an actual road that
winds through the lowlands of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and out to the forests of the Oregon Coast Range. For
the Campbell family, it symbolizes the spirit of farming in Oregon. A mix of younger and older estate vineyards,
plus smaller lots from long term relationships with area family farms.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Aromas of black cherry, and considerable oak-driven scents of spice and vanilla. More oak restraint
on the palate, with mid weight flavors of black cherry and plum. Shallow on the attack and finish.
2014 Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $27,
screwcap. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi blends wines from many
sites that reflect the vintage and the winemaker’s hand, but
with an aim toward accessibility. Named Tavola (Italian for
table) precisely to indicate this is an everyday wine.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Welcoming
aromas of black cherry and spice lead to a satisfying mid
weight essence of black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate fruit flavors
accented with a hint of oak spice. Gentle, silky tannins make for easy
drinking. A standout among the entry level wines tasted.
2014 ROCO Gravel Road Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $30, screwcap. Winemaker Rollin Soles creates a wine with
forward fresh fruit flavors and seamless tannins. He notes, “This entry level wine delivers a reserve selection
quality blend.” Composed of fruit from vineyards off gravel roads. Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon clones.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Somewhat delicate, but appealing, with aromas and flavors of
cherry, raspberry and dried herbs. A straightforward wine, yet offers restrained use of oak, silky tannins,
commendable balance, and a juicy finish.
2013 Siltstone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., $20. From Joel & Louise Myers and sons.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is rather pungent, offering aromas of earthy flora and herbs. Light to
mid weight in style, with a core of herb-infused maraschino cherries framed by filigree tannins. The fruit has an
under ripe character.
Other similar wines previously reviewed in the PinotFile:
2014 Eola Hills Oregon Pinot Noir $19, 88.
2014 Illahe Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $19, 89.
2014 Siduri Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir $28, 89.
2014 Vincent Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir $27, 87.