In no particular order, here are a number of other Oregon Pinot Noirs I sampled recently. As you have
probably surmised from the previous notes, there is basically a two-tier system for Oregon’s Pinot
Noirs. Most wineries produce a Willamette Valley or Oregon blend which is an entry level Pinot Noir
that provides excellent drinking for the money (usually priced in the $17-$27 range). A step up in
quality, complexity, and interest are the reserve wines and vineyard-designate bottlings which can be
quite expensive. The point is, there is good drinking at every price point.
2006 Pudding River Wine Cellars Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 450 cases, $30,
screw cap. The label jokes, “Life is good, the palate is pleased, and the rooster crows again.”
colored. Attractive scents of cherries, raspberries and wood spice. The flavors replicate the aromas with
notable oak influence. Lively acid on the refreshing finish.
2005 De Ponte Cellars Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $38.
blossom with coaxing to reveal deep cherries, violets and vanillin oak. Very elegant
in style with charming spiced red fruits, soft texture and diaphanous finish. I like
this a lot for its Vosne-Romanee character.
2005 Broadley Vineyards Claudia’s Choice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $40. A family-
owned and worked winery. This wine comes from a 7 acre distinct block of the estate vineyard.
Asian 5 spice and pencil shavings make up an interesting nose. Slightly jammy and simple fruits with a
very healthy tannic backbone. I would lay this one down a few years.
2005 Tori Mor Deux Verres Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 800 cases, $43. A
blend of fruit from the Dundee Hills (70%), Chehalem Mountains, and Eola-Amity Hills. The name
Deux Verres means “Two Glasses” in French. Winemaker is Jacques Tardy.
Red Pinot fruits power this wine from start to finish. Bright, sweet cherries are the star and pie crust accents fill in. A bit
austere and simple but admirable acidity and a soft landing on the finish.
2005 Domaine Drouhin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $45.
plays a minor role in the nose which shows noticeable oak, earthiness, and mineral-
imbibed red cherries.. Demure red fruits are simple with plentiful oak, a
strong tannic backbone, soft mouth feel and an acid kick on the backend. Not yet
up to the high level of the 2004 vintage of this wine.
2005 Van Duzer Estate Flagpole Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $45. Note: Van Duzer has had Brett in their wines and it has been part of the Van Duzer
’style,’ especially in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 vintages. In 2004, the Brett aromas were initially
masked by the intense fruit, but with time as the fruit intensity dissipated, the Brett became obvious. I
believe the problem was curtailed in the 2005 vintage and will be eliminated from the 2006 vintage on
when the wines are produced in a newly constructed winery. Although there was no typical Brett aromas
in the above wines, the aromatic profiles were a bit unusual and some may find them off-putting.
That said, the wines are drinking quite nicely now.
color of the three Van Duzer wines. The aromatics are strange, if not unpleasant showing some reduction
with vanilla and floral notes and an unidentified chemical component. The dark fruit flavors, however, are
luscious and layered, rich but not cloying. Acidity and tannins are reigned in and the whole package is
2005 Cristom Louise Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $48.
Composed of five estate vineyards from the 65-acre estate in the Eola Hills.
Entry is different and interesting
featuring baked cookies, pumpkin spice and black cherries. This Pinot is cherry fruit-driven with a
subtle oak thread running throughout. Very appealing for its finesse and earthiness. Dare I say Burgundian?
2005 Soter Beacon Hill Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $48.
Hi-tone red cherry fruit of great purity in the
aromatics with a hint of red licorice. Lovely and understated arsenal of cherry
fruit, a suave texture and brisk acidity on the finish. A sophisticated wine of
great breeding. Still some unresolved tannins - give it 6-12 months to soften.
2005 Le Cadeau Vineyard Diversité Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $50. Cheryl Francis
and Sam Tannahill craft this winemaker-designated cuvee.
Deep, dark ruby color. This is a dark,
brooding style of Pinot Noir. Black fruits (plum, blackberry), earth and minerals are evident from start to
finish. Full-bodied and straight-forward with a velvety texture. Fans of a bold, plush style will find interest
in this wine.
2005 Beaux Freres The Beaux Freres Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette
13.7% alc., $75.
Deep, dark nose with penetrating plum,
black cherry and oak perfume. Packed with tangy and plumy fruit, integrated
tannins and brisk acidity on the finish. At present there is more earth and wood
than fruit in the aftertaste. Muscular but not harsh. Excellent but not profound.
2004 Domaine Drouhin Laurène Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $65. This
wine is made from the finest lots of grapes from Drouhin’s 225-acre estate. It is named after Veronique
Drouhin’s oldest daughter. The first vintage was 1992.
Not offering a lot on the nose yet with shy black
cherry and wood spice. Solid mélange of black stone fruits with fine-grain tannins. Plenty of French sensibility
and the structure to develop nicely over the coming years. Terrific potential that will reward patience.
2003 The Eyrie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $25. Winemaker Jason Lett.
Unusual scents of mushroom and sherry. Medium ruby in color and light in weight, the elegant flavors are
complex featuring strawberries, leaf, cigar box and sherry. An atypical Pinot Noir that is already showing
secondary characters and is not for everyone.