PinotFile: 10.36 August 29, 2016

  • Aussies Offer Gnarly Pinot Noirs at the 2016 International Pinot Noir Celebration
  • A Memorable IPNC Wine Country Lunch at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
  • Final Thoughts After 2016 IPNC
  • Oregon Pinot Noir Starts Here: A Sampling of Entry Level Wines
  • Recently Tasted 2013 Oregon Pinot Noir
  • Pinot Briefs

Aussies Offer Gnarly Pinot Noirs at the 2016 International Pinot Noir Celebration

Australia has staked its wine reputation on Syrah (Shiraz), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Semillon and “stickies.” A feminine and nuanced wine like Pinot Noir historically has never fit into the Aussie drinking ethos that has emphasized big, jammy red wines. Although Pinot Noir has been grown in Australia since the 1830s, it was an afterthought for years, and has only gained recognition in recent years as dedicated vintners began to craft Pinot Noir that is downright gnarly (Aussie slang for terrific).

The 30th Annual 2016 International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) offered a Grand Seminar Master Class titled, “Australia: Pinot Noir in the Antipodes,” intended to enlighten attendees about the progress made in Australian Pinot Noir. The Master of Ceremonies was James Halliday AM, who has a long history with Pinot Noir. He founded the legendary winery, Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley in 1985. Halliday was joined on the panel by Michael Hill Smith AM, MW, of Tolpuddle Vineyard in Tasmania and Tom Carson, the winemaker at Yabby Lake in the Mornington Peninsula.

Victoria has been the epicenter of Australian Pinot Noir. This cool climate region in southeast Australia has a colorful history of grape growing that mirrors the historical events in California. The first plantings were established in the early 1930s using cuttings brought to Victoria from Tasmania and cuttings taken from Clos Vougeot that is now widely planted in Australia as clone MV6. Gold was discovered in 1851 that led to a boom in vineyard plantings and Pinot Noir was successfully grown in Victoria. By 1890, Victoria produced more than 50% of Australia wine. Some of the annual wine production was blended and shipped overseas under the name of “Australian Burgundy.”

Phylloxera was first discovered in Victoria in 1875, and by 1910 had wiped out the wine industry there. Pinot Noir reappeared in the Yarra Valley in the late 1960s with wineries such as Yarra Yering, Mount Mary and Seville Estate leading the way.

Today, the regions that have emerged as being best suited to Pinot Noir in Australia are the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Gippsland and Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Adelaide Hills and Southern Fleurieu in South Australia, the Great Southern in Western Australia, and Tasmania. The Victoria region is the largest producer of Australian Pinot Noir by far. In 2015, there were more than 12,226 acres of Pinot Noir planted in Australia, and more than 950 growers and makers.

Australian Pinot Noir has evolved through the efforts of a small number of fanatical pioneers who possess a profound love of Burgundy. Improved planting material and clones are now widely available and modern viticultural techniques including proper canopy management and organic farming are the rule. Experimentation is ongoing with closer vine spacing, resulting in lower yields per vine. Many vineyards are on their own roots and are reaching maturity.

In the cellar, pre-fermentation cold maceration is employed, followed by whole berry and whole bunch (Aussie for whole cluster) fermentation in small open-top fermenting vessels. There is a trend toward feral yeasts. Post-fermentation maceration is often used to build structure. Screwcaps are the closure of choice for most premium Pinot Noir producers who find the wines stay fresh with minimal reduction issues.

The featured regions and producers whose wines were offered for tasting at the Master Class are depicted below. Abbreviations are VIC (Victoria), SA (South Australia), TAS (Tasmania).

Yarra Valley Region, VIC

Participating wineries: Coldstream Hills, Mac Forbes, Mount Mary.
135 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir.

Mornington Peninsula Region, VIC

Participating wineries: Paringa Estate, Stonier, Yabby Lake.
80 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir.
Surrounded by water on three sides so that there is plenty of maritime influence.

Macedon Ranges Region, VIC

Participating winery: Bindi.
37 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir.

Geelong Region, VIC

Participating winery: By Farr.
50 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir.

Gippsland Zone, VIC

Participating winery: Bass Phillip.
38 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir.

Tasmania Zone, TAS

Participating wineries: Dawson James, Home Hill, Tolpuddle Vineyard.
124 wineries in the state produce Pinot Noir.
An island state located off the southern tip of Australia. Very cool climate.

Adelaide Hills Region, SA

Participating winery: Ashton Hills
74 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir.
The coolest region in Southern Australia.

Southern Fleurieu Region, SA

Participating winery: Tapanappa.
3 wineries in the region produce Pinot Noir

Australian All Star Pinot Noir Tasting

Note: the mix of Australian Pinot Noir clones is different from California and Oregon. Unique to Australia are clone MV6 (Mother Vine 6) selected from the Clos Vougeot Vineyard by James Busby, the father of Australian viticulture, and the backbone of many Australian Pinot Noirs (no USA equivalent), and the Abel clone (Gumboot, Ata Rangi, DRC) is reputed to be sourced from the Romanee-Conti vineyard in Burgundy in the 1970s and confiscated by New Zealand customs agent Malcolm Abel from a traveler’s gumboot, and later planted at Kumeu (USA equivalent unknown). Other clones with USA equivalents are D4V2 (Pommard), D5V12 (upright, droit, UCD Beaujolais, FPS 19 - one of the first clones imported to Australia from California in 1962, now on the wane in Australia), Dijon 114,115, 667, 777, 828 and 943, Mariafeld, and D2V5 (Wädenswil 1a) and 8048 (Wädenswil 2a).

Where else but IPNC would you be able to taste such a lineup of exemplary Australian Pinot Noirs?

The majority of the wines were in the 13% to 14% ABV range. My general impression was that all the wines showed the Pinot Noir trifecta: fruit, spice and savory delights. I was struck by the deep color, bright acidity and modest tannins of most of the wines. If I had to include a nit, it would be an overzealous use of oak in some wines.

2015 Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Vineyard Yarra Valley Victoria Pinot Noir Winery founded by James Halliday, now part of Treasury Wine Estates. Winemaker Andrew Fleming. Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Darker, very ripe berry fruits on the nose and palate along with savory spice and mushroom notes. Soft and smooth in the mouth, with tannins folded in, finishing with a slight sharp bite of acidity. Very Good.

2014 Mac Forbes Woori Yallock Yarra Valley Victoria Pinot Noir Mac Forbes was the winemaker at Mount Mary for many years. He began his own label in 2005, buying grapes from the Yarra Valley and has developed a cult following amongst millenials and sommeliers. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose was primarily oak-driven, with added aromas of spice, potpourri and pungent herbs. Light to mid weight in style, with a significant oak overlay and a juicy, dry finish. Good.

2013 Mount Mary Vineyard Yarra Valley Victoria Pinot Noir Established in 1971, this winery is known for long-lived Pinot Noirs. Founded by the late winemaker, Dr. John Middleton, who was one of the truly original figures in the Australia wine industry. Son David and grandson and winemaker Sam are continuing the Mount Mary legacy. Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very pleasant, with a light to mid weight core of dark red fruits nicely spiced. Forward drinking, with gentle tannins. Exceptional.

2015 Stonier Family Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Victoria Pinot Noir Stonier was established in 1978 and is one of the pioneers of the Mornington Peninsula. The winery focuses only on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from estate vineyards and long time growers. A small percentage of whole cluster is included in the Pinot Noir wines. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black raspberry jam and rose petal. Beautifully composed, featuring dark raspberry and plum fruit flavors, a firm backbone, and lengthy finish. Exceptional.

2014 Paringa Estate Mornington Peninsula Victoria Pinot Noir Winemaker Lindsay McCall has had unmatched level of success in wine shows and competitions with Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Established in 1985, Paringa Estate is one of the outstanding producers on the Mornington Peninsula. Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing with a lovely blend of nutty oak and dark berry aromas. Somewhat withdrawn and rustic, but enough black fruits to satisfy. A savory thread haunts the background along with a bright cut of acidity. Very good.

2013 Yabby Lake Block 2 Mornington Peninsula Victoria Pinot Noir This winery was started by the Kirby family with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Winemaker Tom Carson arrived and the quality of the wines skyrocketed. Yabby Lake was the first Pinot Noir to win the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2014. Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose and palate veer to ripe, darker fruits framed by seasoned oak. The aromas of black cherry and rose petal draw you in, and the ripe berry core is well supported by firm but not aggressive tannins. A little more oak showing than I like, but otherwise Exceptional.

2014 Bindi Kaye Macedon Ranges Victoria Pinot Noir Bindi is one of the greatest small producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Australia. Winemaker Michael Dhillon (nicknamed "Elvis of Bindi" is in photo below) is experimenting with high density plantings currently. Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely scent of black cherry, black raspberry and spice leading to a middleweight core of purple berries, black cherry and spice flavors enhanced by complimentary acidity and chalky tannins. My favorite Pinot Noir of this tasting. Exceptional.

2013 Bass Phillip Premium Gippsland Victoria Pinot Noir Established in 1979 by Phillip Jones who crafts tiny quantities of legendary Pinot Noir which at its best has no equal in Australia. Dark reddish purple color in the glass. An ultra ripe, mid weight plus style with aromas and flavors of blackberry jam and cassis accented with charred oak, dry tannins and lively acidity. Very good.

2012 By Farr Sangreal Geelong Victoria Pinot Noir By Farr is a respected producer in Australia founded in 1994 by winemaker Gary Farr. Both Gary and his son Nick have worked numerous vintages at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy stretching over two decades. The wines are normally made with 60%-70% whole cluster inclusion. Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Another very ripe style, but more appealing due to whole cluster inclusion. Aromas of black raspberry, spice, and dark rose petal lead to a mid weight plus style with loads of charming black fruit accented by savory herbs (but not herbaceous), and framed by noticeable, but not daunting tannins. Exceptional.

2014 Tolpuddle Vineyard Tasmania Pinot Noir Tolpuddle Vineyard was planted in 1988 near Hobart. Since bought by Michael Hill Smith MW and Martin Shaw in 2011, the wines have received considerable international recognition. The 2013 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir was Best Australian Pinot Noir and Best Australian Red Wine at London’s International Wine Challenge. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is infused with roasted nuts including hazelnut aromas along with aromas of black cherry and blackberry. Silky in the mouth, with mid weight core of oak-infused dark berries backed by modest tannins, finishing with good intensity. Very good.

2014 Dawson James Tasmania Pinot Noir Peter Dawson and Tim James have a long history of successful careers as senior winemakers at Hardys/Accolade group. The partners started their label in 2010. 40% whole cluster inclusion. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of pungent herbs, clove, and spiced Mexican chocolate lead to a mid weight essence of dark red cherry and berry flavors. Bright acidity infuses the wine with vibrancy, but there is significant oak overlay and attending petrol note. Good.

2014 Ashton Hills Reserve Adelaide Hills South Australia Pinot Noir Stephen George built Ashton Hills into one of the great producers of Pinot Noir in Australia. Since 1982, over 25 Pinot Noir clones have been planted to determine the most suitable for the site. George decided on five clones eventually that make up the vineyard today. The business was sold to Wirra Wirra in 2015, but George continues in a consulting role. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Significant oak barrel influence in the nose and on the palate. The wine features mid weight red and black cherry fruits that possess charm and juiciness. Good.

2012 Tapanappa Foggy Hill Southern Fleurieu South Australia Pinot Noir Brian Croser and his spouse Ann established Tapanappa Vineyards in 2002/ Croser has strong links with Oregon, having established Argyle in 1987. Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Typical whole cluster nose featuring scents of cherry, tobacco, spice, pine and wilted rose. Lighter in weight, but flavorful, with tastes of cherry and herbs. The ripe tannins are modest and the wine finishes with generosity and purpose. Very good.

Americans have little opportunity to drink the better Australian Pinot Noirs since Australians love them so much, they keep them to themselves. Over 50% of all Pinot Noir produced in Australia is sold directly to Australian consumers at the wineries’ tasting rooms (called cellar doors in Australia) or through mailing lists, with the balance divided between restaurants and wine retailers. The growing middle class in China also has a thirst for premium Australian wines. In the 12 months to June 30, 2016, Australian wine exports to China increased in value by 50 per cent to $419 million, while exports to the United States increased by 9 per cent.

Most of the Australian Pinot Noir that reaches the USA is value priced and includes forgettable labels like Lindeman’s Bin 99 ($4), Yellow Tail ($5), Rosemount Estate ($5), The Little Penguin ($6), Fish Eye ($6), Shoofly ($9), Riposte The Dagger ($15), Oakridge Estate ($14), De Bertoli ($14), McPherson ($14), Wakefield Estate ($17), Sidewood ($20), Robert Oatley ($20) and Giant Steps ($30). When I checked www.winesearcher. com, I was able to find a few bottles of premium Australian Pinot Noir for sale from producers like Yarra Yering, Tolpuddle Vineyard, By Farr, Mount Mary, Yering Station, Stonier, Kooyong Massale, Penfolds Reserve, Giaconda, Bindi, Mac Forbes, Ten Minutes by Tractor and Eldridge Estate.

I have been fortunate to visit Victoria and many Pinot Noir producers there, and through my good friend, David Lloyd, owner and winemaker of Eldridge Estate in the Mornington Peninsula, I have tasted a number of very enjoyable Australia Pinot Noirs. My most recent tasting of Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noirs was in September 2014:

The 2017 Mornington Peninsula International Pinot Noir Celebration, sponsored by the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association (MPVA), will be held on February 10-11, 2017 at RACV Cape Schanck Resort and various local wineries. This biannual event, the eighth in a series, is modeled after Oregon’s International Pinot Noir Celebration. The 2017 Event Chairman, Lindsay McCall, announced that the theme will be “The alchemy of Pinot Noir...people, place and time.” Matthew Jukes will host the Celebration and present his selection of Pinot Noir from around the world including wines from two exceptional Burgundy domaines - Méo- Camuzet and Comte de Vogüe. Tickets include two days of Pinot Noir wine tasting, lunches and dinners. To buy tickets, visit

A Memorable IPNC Wine Country Lunch at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Each year, in MicMinnville, Oregon, on the bucolic campus of Linfield College, the International Pinot Noir Celebration offers many remarkable events including the Breakfast and Sparkling Brunch Finale on the Riley Hall Lawn, the Opening Ceremonies where the Master of Ceremonies holds court and all the participating winery representatives are introduced, The Lunch on the Lawn held in The Oak Grove, the University of Pinot classes held in academic classrooms but with no homework or tests, the Alfresco Tastings in the late afternoon at the Dormitory Quad, the Friday night Grand Dinner held on the Intramural Field, and the Saturday evening Northwest Salmon Bake at The Oak Grove.

In addition, attendees are loaded on buses either Friday or Saturday (as part of either Group A or Group B) and sent into the surrounding Willamette Valley to visit a hosting winery for a Vineyard Tour, Seminar, and Lunch. The attendees are completely unaware of which winery they are destined for, and which winemakers are accompanying the group to the winery. The highlight of this year’s IPNC for me was the Wine Country Lunch at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars in Newberg, Yamhill County. Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash hosted our group along with winemakers Erik Kramer of Domaine Serene in Dundee, Oregon, David O’Reilly of Owen Roe in Newberg, Oregon, Don Lange of Lange Estate Winery in Dundee, Oregon, and Nathan Kandler of Thomas Fogarty Winery in Portola Valley, California.

The group was in high spirits after indulging in a number of outstanding Penner-Ash wines that accompanied the memorable lunch prepared by Guest Chef Daisley Gordon of Café Campagne in Seattle, Washington. I have been to many IPNC events through the years, but this was the best lunch I have ever experienced. So grand, that I have thought about traveling to Seattle just to eat at this restaurant. Every course was perfectly matched to the chosen wines which were all superb.

Chef Gordon worked in a few restaurants after college and then graduated from The Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, New York, that included an internship with a certified Master Chef. In 1995, he landed at Campagne Restaurant, Seattle’s standard-bearer of regional French cuisine. He never left, progressing from sous chef, to chef and eventually chef/partner. At the 20-year-old Café Campagne, he celebrates the bounty of the Pacific Northwest seasons in the French style.

The Oregon Wine Country Lunch menu:

After the Poulet au basilic course was served, Lynn had a special treat for our group. In special vintages, her top bottling is named “Pas De Nom,” that translates as “No Name.” It is a limited production Pinot Noir made from several vineyards and priced at $125 (current vintage 2014). Lynn brought out several bottles of the stunning 2008 vintage for our group. The photo below also shows the 2014 Penner-Ash Estate Pinot Noir that was served at lunch.

One table got the idea of writing revised lyrics to the well known song, “Horse with No Name,” first recorded by the band America and released in the US in 1972. Although certified gold, the song was banned by some US radio stations because of supposed drug references to heroin use. The band members were said to be intoxicated with cannabis while writing the song and received criticism for the banal, oddly phrased lyrics. Appropriately, our lunch group was intoxicated with Pinot Noir when they wrote these revised lyrics incorporating Pas De Nom in the song lyrics. They were able to coax Don Lange, a well-known folk singer (white cap in center), into joining them as they serenaded Lynn. The result was hilarious since the singers were way off key. The singers and lyrics are pictured below.

Wine with No Name

Two Days in the Willamette Sun
My skin began to turn red
After 3 days in the Pinot fun
I couldn’t get out of bed

And the story is told of the wine that flowed
Made me glad to think it was red

I’ve been through the valley with a Pinot of No Name
It felt good to get out of the sun
In the Valley you can remember No Name
Cause their ain’t no more 08 No Name

Final Thoughts After 2016 IPNC

** At the Grand Seminar on Australian Pinot Noir, reference was made to Pinot Noir as the “invalid grape,” because “it is pale, frail and weak.”

** When I asked Oregon winemaker, David O’Reilly, what he thought of “Pursuit of Balance,” he responded, “Well, I moved to Oregon from Ojai, California.”

** New terminology caught my fancy: the result of uneven crop set is often referred to as “hens and chicks” in wine grape bunches (what the French term millerandage) with chicks being the smaller berries. A term I heard for the first time is more fitting, with the occurrence better described as “peas and pumpkins.”

**There were about 825 registered attendees for the 2016 IPNC weekend, including 140 representatives from the 73 featured wineries. A new audience of about 550 guests attended the IPNC Sunday Passport to Pinot.

** The featured Pinot Noir producers came from Argentina, Australia, Burgundy, California, Canada, Champagne, Michigan, New Zealand, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.

** Guests have the opportunity to taste more than 250 wines at IPNC and I tasted my fair share. Wines that stood out at the Alfresco Tastings included 2015 Chacra Cincuenta y Cinco Rio Negro Argentina, 2015 Bindi Wines Dixon Vineyard Macedon Ranges Australia, 2015 Stonier Wines Stonier Family Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Australia, 2014 Failla Wines Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast, 2014 Flowers Vineyards & Winery Sonoma Coast, 2013 Lutum Wines Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley, 2014 Masut Vineyard & Winery Eagle Peak Estate Redwood Valley, 2013 Thomas Fogarty Winery Rapley Trail Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains, 2013 Blue Mountain Reserve Okanagan Falls BC, 2012 Domaine Marquis D’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Volnay Burgundy, 2011 Domaine Henri Gouges 1er Cru Les Pruliers Nuits-Saint-Georges Burgundy, 2014 Domaine Marc Roy Clos Prieur Gevrey-Chambertain Burgundy, 2014 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Vineyard Reserve Chehalem Mountains Oregon, 2014 Ayres Vineyard ONE Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon, 2013 Harper Voit Strandline Yamhill-Carlton Oregon, 2013 J.K. Carriere Vespidae Chehalem Mountains Oregon, 2014 Owen Roe “The Kilmore” Willamette Valley Oregon, 2013 R. Stuart & Co. Winery Autograph Willamette Valley Oregon, 2014 Shea Wine Cellars Estate Yamhill-Carlton Oregon, 2014 Solena Domaine Danielle Laurent Yamhill-Carlton Oregon, 2013 Tendril Wine Cellars Tight Rope Yamhill-Carlton Oregon.

**2013 Dundee Hills Vintage Collection: An exclusive collection of 30 bottles of Dundee Hills Pinot Noir from the 2013 vintage - $1,850. The 2012 Collection is sold out. Reserve the 2013 Collection at

**50 Years Pressing On - A Guide to Willamette Valley Wineries. Your best guide for visiting the Willamette Valley is available at wineries or visit

**Heart of Willamette Wineries. A group of the more southern wineries in the Willamette Valley have their own guide available at These are superb wineries that because of their greater distance from Portland are less well-traveled but equally accomplished. Examples are Treos, Airlie Winery, Lumos Wine Company, Tyee Wine Cellars and Benton-Lane Winery.

**¡Salud! is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016. This charity is dedicated to providing healthcare services and outreach to Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families. The ¡Salud! Cuvée Tasting and Big Board Auction will be held Friday, November 11, 2016, at Ponzi Vineyards and is the only opporrtunity to buy Oregon’s most exclusive Pinot Noir cuvées. The following evening, Saturday, November 12, 2016, the 25th Anniversary Celebration Gala and Auction will be held at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland. Friday, Saturday and full weekend tickets are available now online at

**The 31st Annual IPNC will be held at Linfield College on July 28-30, 2017. Registrations are now being taken for the Full Weekend, priced at $1195. Visit If you only attend one Pinot Noir celebration, you must experience IPNC. Chances are, if you attend once, you will return repeatedly.

**IPNC also produces the annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration to be held February 27, 2016, at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon. The event begins with a seated topical seminar and tasting followed by a walk around sampling of over 40 Oregon Chardonnays. Visit for more information and tickets.

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 quantity.

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. Score: 86

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. Score: 89

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. Score: 89

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 for $12. · 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. Score: 90

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. Score: 88

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. Score: 88

2014 Chehalem Three Vineyard Willanette Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 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. Score: 89

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. Score: 86

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. Score: 89

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. Score: 86

2014 Kudos Reserve Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $22. · Moderate 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. Score: 88

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. Score: 86

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. Score: 87

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. Score: 85

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. Score: 90

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. Score: 88

2013 Siltstone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., $20. From Joel & Louise Myers and sons. · Light 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. Score: 86

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.

Recently Tasted 2013 Oregon Pinot Noir

Sokol Blosser, Dundee, Oregon

2013 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 9,700 cases, $38. Made with 100% organic grapes, and an Oregon Department of Agriculture Organic Certified Wine. Estate grown, 100% Pinot Noir. A portion is vinified with limited skin contact and another portion undergoes a lengthy post fermentation maceration. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 31% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Initial aromas of black cherry, pipe smoke and rose petal give way to more oak influence over time in the glass. Soft in the mouth with gentle tannins, featuring light to mid weight flavors of black raspberry and black cherry and a thread of dried herbs in the background. The brief finish offers notes of oak kissed maraschino cherry. Score: 87

2013 Sokol Blosser Orchard Block Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 400 cases, $70. Made with 100% organic grapes, and an Oregon Department of Agriculture Organic Certified Wine. Estate grown, 100% Pinot Noir. From a 6.4-acre block replanted with clone 777 in 2000 in Jory soil. 25 days in fermenter including 16 days of post fermentation maceration, aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 38% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of cherry, spice and red rose petal. Elegantly crafted, with a middleweight charge of black cherry and black raspberry fruits accented with baking spice and truffle. Very clean and silky, finishing a bit shallow and oak-charged. When tasted the following day, there was still considerable oak overlay and I am not convinced that this wine will relegate the oak over time. Score: 88

VIDON Vineyard, Newberg, Oregon

Owned and operated by Don and Vicki Hagge for 16 years, VIDON Vineyard is located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA between 300 and 500 feet elevation, 3 miles north of the Dundee Hills. The site is southwest facing and very warm, with deep volcanic Jory soil. The three blocks of clones 777, 115 and Pommard were planted in 2000 and 2001 with a vine density of 1,555 per acre. The VIDON (VEE-DOHN) vineyard and winery are LIVE certified sustainable. Winemaking is non-interventional with gravity used primarily. Grapes are 100% de-stemmed and fermented in 1.5-ton tanks. After a cold soak of 3 to 5 days, fermentation ensues with feral yeasts. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation and are aged in French oak barrels. The owners planted the vines, harvest the fruit, make the wine and sell it out of the winery. These outstanding wines are among the tops I have tasted from the 2013 vintage in Oregon and are available on the website and through a mailing list at The winery’s tasting room is open daily.

2014 VIDON Vineyard Estate 3 Clones Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.55, 710 cases, $40, Vinolok glass closure. Release September 2016. Twelfth vintage from this block. A blend of the three clones in the VIDON Vineyard. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Fruity aromas of black cherry and black currant lead off, infused with savory aromas of spice, fig and oak. Very ripe but not over ripe flavors of black cherry and black raspberry along with a thread of herbs. The fruit is vivid and fresh in quality, the texture is silky, and the cherry and raspberry infused finish really satisfies. Score: 91

2013 VIDON Vineyard Estate Mirabelle Clone 115 Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.55, 96 cases, $50, Vinolok glass closure. Eleventh vintage from this block of clone 115. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Generous aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry, and strawberry with an earthy undertone. The ornate cherry and raspberry fruit really pops on the palate. A touch of spice and a sidecar of oak add interest, Very juicy and refreshing, with impeccable balance and a raspberry-fueled finish that is heavenly. I was giddy over this one. Score: 94

2013 VIDON Vineyard Estate Hons Clone Pommard Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.53, 100 cases, $50, Vinolok glass closure. Eleventh vintage from this block of Pommard clone. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Light reddish purple color in the glass. Delicate aromas of cherry, cranberry relish and savory herbs. Light to mid weight in style, with a core of bright cherry fruit infused with cola, baking spice and Provencal herb flavors, supported by chalky tannins. The finish impresses for its juiciness. This wine demonstrates the influence of site on clone, for this Pommard based wine is not the dark black cherry fruited, ripe and sappy Pommard based wine that one has come to expect from the Russian River Valley of California. Score: 91

2013 VIDON Vineyard Estate Brigita Clone 777 Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.53, 95 cases, $50, Vinolok glass closure. 11th vintage from this block. Harvested before heavy rains started that year in late summer. 100% clone 777. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of blueberry compote, cherry, raspberry and graham impress in this wonderfully balanced wine that is sleek, easy to drink, and finishes with a gloriously long, fruit-filled finish. Score: 93

2011 VIDON Vineyard Estate Barrel Select Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.63, 99 cases, $80, Vinolok glass closure. Pommard and 777. Four favorite winemaker barrels. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and saddle leather lead to a middleweight wine replete with black cherry and blackberry fruits as well as savory herb highlights. The tannins are well-concealed and there is some length on the dry finish. Admirable concentration in this challenging vintage. The wine has aged nicely and after five years, is probably at its apogee. Score: 92

Youngberg Hill, McMinnville, Oregon

Youngberg Hill vineyards consist of 20 acres (15 acres of Pinot Noir, 2.5 acres of Chardonnay and 2.5 acres of Pinot Gris) on a 50-acre estate. 12 acres of own-rooted vines were planted in 1989 to 60% Pommard and 40% Wädenswil clones of Pinot Noir. 3 additional acres of Pinot Noir, Dijon 777, was planted in 2008. The vines are not irrigated. Organic farming started in 2003, and currently some biodynamic farming practices are being instituted. The vineyards are LIVE certified. The estate also incorporates a B&B Inn and the tasting room is located within the Inn. Visit

2013 Youngberg Hill Jordan Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.10, TA 0.69, 265 cases, $50, screwcap. The 4-acre Jordan block is located on a steep slope at about 800 feet elevation. 60% Pommard and 40% Wädenswil clones planted in 1989. Harvest Brix 20.9º. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A discreetly bold offering featuring aromas and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry infused with oak seasoning. Intensely fruity on the mid palate and finish. The chunky tannins are daunting at this time because the high acidity in this wine accentuates the astringency. Score: 87

2013 Youngberg Hill Natasha McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.4% alc., pH 3.20, TA 0.63136 cases, $50, screwcap. Natasha is the larger of the two original blocks, 6.5 acres planted at 600 feet elevation in Willakenzie soil. 60% Pommard and 40% Wädenswil clones planted in 1989. Harvest Brix 20.9º. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Dark red and purple fruits are featured in this lighter weight wine with significant acid backbone. Aromas of black cherry, wine cave and dark rose petal are inviting, but on the palate, the tannins and acidity seem to fight for dominance. The very modest finish is acid-driven and thirst quenching. Score: 88

2013 Youngberg Hill Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.59, 378 cases, $35, screwcap. A blend of grapes from the McMinnville and Eola-Amity Hills AVAs. Clone 777. Harvest Brix 21.1º. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is both savory and fruity, with pleasing highlights of dark red stone and berry fruits along with sandalwood and mushroom. Comforting on the palate with discreetly concentrated flavors of vivid cherry and cranberry, balanced and supportive tannins, a deft touch of oak, and inviting generosity on the finish. Score: 90

Look for many more Oregon Pinot Noir reviews in an upcoming issue based on my travels along the Pinot Trail in Oregon in July 2016. Visited wineries include: The Eyrie Vineyard, White Rose Estate, Van Duzer, Airlie, Native Flora, Lange Estate, Bell’s Up, Knudsen Vineyards, Alloro and Brooks. In addition, there will be an extensive tasting of Amalie Robert Estate wines.

Pinot Briefs

Pinot on the River The 2016 Pinot on the River will be held on the Plaza in Healdsburg on Sunday, October 23. The event now attracts 1,000+ people and hosts 100 wineries and artisan food producers. Profits benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County. Tickets ($75 in advance) are 100% tax deductible (excluding fees). Visit for a list of participating Pinot Noir focused wineries.

Harvest on the Coast With its wineries located just five miles from the ocean on average, it is fitting that San Luis Obispo Wine County holds its signature harvest season event right next to the Pacific. On November 5, 2016, local wineries and chefs will converge at Avila Beach Resort for the Grand Tasting & Wine Auction as part of the larger Harvest on the Coast weekend celebration. For details on all the events of the weekend, visit

Sonoma County Vintners New Website Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) has launched their newly designed website, There are dedicated sections for consumers and members as well as an extensive trade section featuring wine facts, detailed appellation information, industry reports and information about SCV programs. A new Harvest 2016 section has been added as well that includes vintner Q&A’s, as well as harvest reports and a video series highlighting what’s happening in the vineyards.

2017 Pinot Noir NZ This celebration of New Zealand Pinot Noir is held every four years for three days in tasting venues along the Wellington City waterfront. The dates are January 31-February 2, 2017. The International Pinot Noir Tasting will be led by Jancis Robinson OBE MW, Mike Bennie, and Kenichi Ohashi MW. Visit to view the preliminary program and register.

Vineyard Adventures Program Sonoma County Winegrowers announced this month the launch of an expanded Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures, a program designed to help wine lovers get an insider’s view of Sonoma County’s sustainable vineyards. Vineyard Adventures are free self-guided vineyard walks that provide Sonoma County visitors with an interactive and educational experience at seven of the region’s wineries including Amista Vineyards, Balletto Vineyards, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Matanzas Creek Winery, Paradise Ridge Winery, Schug Carneros Estate Winery and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. Two new walks will be available in the fall: Mauritson Wines and La Crema. For more information, visit

McEvoy Ranch Fall 2016 Tours The 550-acre sustainably farmed McEvoy Ranch in Marin County just west of Petaluma will be hosting tours of the Ranch including olive groves and vineyards along with olive oil and wine tasting. McEvoy Ranch is one of the largest U.S. producers of estate grown, certified organic extra virgin olive oil. Advanced reservations are required and ticket prices are a reasonable $35 (wine tasting is $15 additional). Reservations can be made at

Bill Nanson Leads Private Burgundy Tours Bill Nanson is the well-respected Burgundy wine author (Burgundy Report) who offers guided tours during the whole year and for any day of the week. The format is individualized to fit specific requests are simply left to the discretion of Bill. All tours include a pickup and return to your hotel in the Côte d'Or or Chablis. For more information, visit

Importance of Drinking Pattern on Health Effects of Wine A review article appeared in Food & Function, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom and was reviewed by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research. The report presented a summary of evidence-based scientific data relating the moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages to health. The article summarizes the key differences in health effects when alcohol (especially wine) is consumed moderately, with food, and on a regular basis rather than in binges. These differences emphasize why evaluating only the total amount of alcohol consumed, and not how it is consumed, is inadequate when studying alcohol's effects on health and disease.

Wine Scores & Reviews Reflect the Reviewer I believe that wine reviewers approach the qualitative assessment of wine differently depending on their occupation or consumer status. In other words, their palate is tuned differently. Winemakers tend to look critically at flaws in wines and how to fix them. Wine merchants are interested in typicality. Sommeliers look more at a wine’s suitability as a food match. Wine critics focus on quality. Consumers pass judgment simply based on whether they like the wine or not. Discerning consumers often assess a wine more critically.

Wine Consumption in United States