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Oregon Pinot Noir Tasting

A lively group of 15 winos gathered on a recent Monday afternoon to taste Oregon Pinot Noirs. Jay Selman, of Grape Radio fame, hosts a monthly wine tasting at which every participant brings a bottle or two and tasty food is provided by Picnics Deli. There is plenty of geeky talk about wine, but no one takes themselves too seriously. At the end, votes are tallied for the top four wines. There were 23 wines total and I have included some comments where appropriate. The top 4 wines are listed first.

2005 Sineann Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc.. · Attractive fruit in the nose and flavors, but the tannins arrive at the finish with a rush.

2005 Soter North Valley Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc.. · Like all of Tony Soter’s Pinot Noirs, this wine features impeccable balance. The nose is rich, and there is some pure and juicy fruit offered in a light style.

2005 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Willamette

13.75% alc., $40. · The aromatics are floral and fruity. On the palate there are plenty of creamy sweet fruits with an earthiness and feral quality. The finish is clean and tidy with lively acidity.

2005 Dukes Family Vineyards Alyssa Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $45. · This wine is from R. Gary Andrus of Gypsy Dancer Estates. The nose is flat-out beautiful with hi-tone crushed cherries. The palate is spicy and tenacious with vivid fruit. Nicely weighted. The finish has brisk acidity.

2004 Lemelson Thea’s Selection Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc.. · I liked this wine, especially the soft texture. Firm and medium structured with full fruit flavors and well integrated oak.

2004 White Rose Vineyard Dragon’s Bluff Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

100% whole cluster. Floral and spice perfumed, this is a fruity Beaujolais-style wine that is shallow in the middle and on the finish.

2004 Privé Vineyard Le Sud Yamhill County Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $50 (futures price). Mark and Tina Hammond hand craft their Pinot Noirs from two acres of vines planted on their estate on Chehalem Mountain. They bottle three wines, Le Sud from the south 1 acre, Le Nord from the north 1 acre, and Joie de Vivre, a reserve. Quantities are miniscule and demand is high. · This Pinot is crafted in a feminine style. Light to medium bodied, it is lacy and understated but with considerable complexity. Notes of savory cherries, spice (especially cinnamon), and roses are featured in the nose and flavors. Oak is perfectly integrated and the whole package is meticulously balanced. Still a Lolita, it was one of those Pinot Noirs that defies adequate description. This wine was the overwhelming favorite of the tasting.

2004 Domaine Serene Coeur Blanc Willamette Valley White Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. · This is a fascinating wine which caused many wrinkled brows. It reminds me of a Pinot Blanc with citrus and sour apple flavors. There are some Alsatian features as well.

2003 Siduri Muirfield Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · A decent ‘whitebread’ wine that is soft in texture. Simple and fruity rather than complex.

2003 Stoller Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.. · A big wine with a little alcohol evident in the nose and on the finish. A fruit-driven Cali style that some tasters abhorred.

2002 Rex Hill Carabella Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc.. · Actually my second favorite of the tasting but not many tasters agreed. This wine had the whole package - five spice nose, silky mouth feel, and a lasting finish of spice-tinged cherries and berries.

2002 Sine Qua Non Hollerin’ M Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

15.4% alc.. · A fruit-driven, pumped up, California Nuevo style Pinot Noir. Plenty of lip-smacking plush red and dark fruits. The alcohol is well-hidden. Like it or not, it is certainly distinctive.

2002 White Rose Vineyard Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc.. · This wine was been troubled by Brett and has not shown lately like it did on release. The pristine fruit was a fading memory, but the wine still drank decently.

2002 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Block 32 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $48. Composed of non-irrigated Wädenswil vines. · A ripe and plush wine with plenty of tannic backbone. The finish of Asian-spiced red Pinot fruits was particularly appealing and lingering.

2001 Lemelson Stermer Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc.. · A little stink on the nose, a little harsh on the finish and just ordinary.

2000 St. Innocent Cremant Willamette Valley Sparkling Wine

12.9% alc.. · Slightly sweet, but a very decent, if simple, drink.

1999 Beaux Freres Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · Super ripe fruits with a hint of alcohol dominate the aromatics. There is plenty of stuffing - darker fruits, anise and toasty oak. The finish is dry, stemmy and woody. With a predominance of tannins, alcohol and a paucity of acid, the whole package lacks balance.

1999 Chehalem Jacob-Hart Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc.. · Slightly oxidized, but still a decent drink. Rich nose of cherries and vanillin and a pleasing mid-palate sweet fruit array that was fading.

1999 Rex Hill Jacob-Hart Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc.. · Terrific aromatics here with spices and tea notes. The flavors disappoint, however, and there was a thin, short finish lacking in acid.

1998 St. Innocent Seven Springs Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc.. · A surprisingly youthful wine with too much tannin on the back end for me. Some tasters felt it could improve and soften with additional aging. Certainly built to age, but I think it will always retain a certain edginess. There was plenty of high-quality cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate.

1998 Thomas Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13% alc.. · A controversial wine made in the Eyrie style that split the group. I found the aged bouquet appealing featuring leather, Asian spice and cherry. The fruit was light and demure.

1998 Tori Mor White Rose Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc.. · A barnyard bouquet led to tart flavors of raspberry and strawberry. The acid trumped the fruit.

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