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Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir

Antica Terra

2010 Antica Terra Antikythera Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 440 cases, $100. Released October 1, 2013. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries and espresso. Middleweight core of black cherry fruit buried in charred, smoky oak. The tannins are soft and the juicy finish is pleasing with good mineral-laden acidity and length. There is not enough fruit in this delicate wine to stand up to the oak. Smokers should like this wine. Tasted previously on January 19, 2013 with a similar impression. Score: 86

2011 Antica Terra Botanica Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $75. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very shy, but pleasant aromas of black cherry, forest floor and oak. Good dark red fruit presence in the mouth with an earthy, cedary oak undertone. Substantial tannins with lively acidity and some length to the vibrant, oak-tinged finish. On the austere side in this vintage. I like the flavor of this wine but the oak and tannins are out of balance with the modest fruit. About the same the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 87

2011 Antica Terra Ceras Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., $75. Botanica’s counterpoint. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Nicely blessed with aromas of cherry, red plum, spice and rose petal with a touch of fine oak. Beautifully composed and harmonious with a delicious mid weight core of dark cherry and blueberry fruits backed by an oak imprint. Very polished and sophisticated, juicy and invigorating with plenty of potential. Definitely seems to have been made with some whole cluster fermentation. Score: 92

A to Z Wineworks

2011 A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $15, screwcap. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of black cherries and oak spice. Refined, brisk and elegant, featuring flavors of cherry and raspberry with a shadow of oak in the background, finishing with a flourish of cherry and a kick of citrus-laden acidity. A little too much oak on board for my taste with the oak becoming more evident the longer the wine sits in the glass. Score: 85

Cristom Vineyards

2010 Cristom Marjorie Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.59, 363 cases, $55. This vineyard was originally planted in 1982 and is one of the oldest vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and home to some of the oldest vines on the Cristom estate. It is situated on a gently sloped east facing hillside between 480 and 615 feet above sea level. Named for owner Paul Gerrie’s mother, the first single vineyard estate Marjorie was released in 1994. The soil is primarily Jory in type. Phylloxera struck the vineyard in 2000, and beginning in 2007, replanting was initiated with Dijon clones 113, 115, 777, Pommard and Wädenswil grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks. The vineyard produces very small, concentrated clusters. Aged 17 months in 53% new Burgundian cooperage. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Bombastic and exotic aromas of red and black cherries, whole cluster spice and floral notes, smoky oak, incense and licorice. Delicious core of cherry fruits which are broad in the mouth and supported by integrated notes of spice, fennel, anise and mocha-laden oak. A special wine that is built for the long haul, with firm, fine-grain tannins, refreshing acidic verve and a lengthy finish of great energy. A whole cluster triumph that really impressed me. Score: 95



Ken Wright Cellars

Ken Wright’s wines are impressive in 2012 and he believes these are his best wines ever. Vineyard sources are superb. The wines do need decanting if opened now, or more time in bottle for full expression as shown by the gradual evolution of aromas and flavors in the glass over time.


Lenné Estate

Proprietor and winemaker Steve Lutz told me the following about his 2011 vintage wines. “Oddly enough, though there will be much hype about the 2012 vintage wines which are plush and reminiscent of the 2006 wines, I see the 2011 wines following in the footsteps of the 2007 wines. They are not very developed on the nose or palate yet, but every time I sit with them, I see promise and they really capture me after I have had them open for a day or two. The 2007 vintage turned out to be one of my favorites even though the wines started out quite lean, very similar to the 2011 wines. The 2012 vintage could have been great, but we had a week of warm east winds in September that completely changed the nature of the vintage, pushing it away from being like 2008 and towards being like 2006.”




Privé Vineyard

Winemaker Tina Hammond crafted two of the greatest Oregon Pinot Noirs that I have tasted in recent memory. She noted in her fall 2013 newsletter the following. “Without a doubt, the 2012 vintage will go down in Oregon history as one of the greats! Our growing season started off cool with a late spring, then a wonderful summer abundant with sunshine. Summer was followed by a long, beautiful fall with cool nights, giving us a window to choose our perfect harvest dates.” Privé Vineyard has a new website designed to give a bird’s eye view into life on the vineyard and in the winery. The photo gallery displays a year in the life of a grape at Privé Vineyard. Visit

The two Pinot Noirs reviewed here are crafted from the north and south blocks of the old vine estate. Extreme crop thinning and extra small berry size in 2012 led to the development of flavors that winemakers who make Pinot Noir long for. A reserve bottling, the 2012 Joie de Vivre, is a combination of both le nord and le south, and was offered in a beautiful etched bottle (132 bottles, $90). A fruit-forward Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was also offered in 2012 (150 cases, $35), as well as a Ruby Pinot Port that has spent 11 years in barrel, produced in the Solera style (50 cases, $50). A 2012 Syrah and Malbec from Walla Walla are also available.

Privé Vineyard is one of Oregon’s best reflections of terroir. Although the north and south blocks of the vineyard are separated only by the Hammond’s home, the two wines are noticeably different.


Raptor Ridge

Raptor Ridge was founded in 1995 by Annie and Scott Shull. The winery gets its name from the many families of raptors (red-tailed hawks, kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks, and owls) that share the winery’s 27-acre estate. The vineyard is named “Tuscowallame,” the indigenous word for “place where the owls dwell.” This 18-acre estate vineyard includes blocks dedicated to Pinot Noir clones 115, Wädenswil, 667, 777, Pommard and 114. A small amount of Grüner Veltliner is also planted in the site’s Loess-based Laurelwood soils. Located on the northeastern side of the Chehalem Mountains, 10 miles north of Newberg, Oregon, the winery is known for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Total production is about 8,500 cases annually which includes wines from the estate vineyard and grapes sourced from Aubre Vert, Bellevue Cross, Carabella, Goodrich, Gran Moraine, Harbinger, Meredith Mitchell, Olenik and Shea vineyards. The winemaker is Scott Shull. Raptor Ridge is a supporter of ¡Salud! (a charity that I also support) donating 10 cents for every bottle sold to the ¡Salud! Foundation for vineyard worker healthcare in Oregon. Raptor Ridge Winery was the first winery to employ this practice. Visit the website at for more information.


Solená and Hyland Estates

Long time Oregon winemaker and business owner, Laurent Montalieu of Northwest Wine Company, is celebrating his 25th harvest and the 10th anniversary of Northwest Wine Company, one of the most technologically advanced custom winegrowing and winemaking operations in the Northwest. Laurent and his wife, Danielle Andrus Montalieu, and business partner John Niemeyer, are one of Oregon’s largest vineyard owners (625 acres) and wine producers. In the last year, Domaine Loubejac and Wildewood vineyards were acquired adding to the historic and coveted Hyland Vineyard that was bought in 2007. Since founding Northwest Wine Company in 2003, the trio has created Oregon’s premier custom winemaking facility and the state’s third largest producer with over 122,000 cases made in 2012. Northwest Wine Company is home to over 40 labels including proprietary labels such as Brella and Kudos, as well as custom winemaking for notable producers such as Four Graces. In 2011, the trio launched Hyland Estates which offers several varietals including Pinot Noir and a bottling of the Coury clone. In 2012, the Soléna Estate production facility was sold to Jackson Family Wines, but the Montalieu’s retained the Soléna label. All the wines reviewed here were vinified by winemaker Laurent Montalieu.


Soter Vineyards



A young winery producing a mere 300 cases in 2010, rising to 500 cases in the 2012 vintage. All released wines have been sold to a growing fan base and to upscale gourmet Oregon restaurants. Pinot Noir is crafted in two styles, the differences coming from the Pinot Noir clones used in each version. The Founder’s Choice Pinot Noir is an attempt to make the richest, boldest expression of Pinot Noir possible. The clones originated in a famous grand cru Burgundy vineyard known for a bold expression of Pinot Noir. The darkly colored and dark fruited wine is meant for consumers who prefer more full-bodied wines like Syrah. The Elegant Reserve Pinot Noir is an attempt to make an elegant style of Pinot Noir while maintaining depth of flavor using multiple clones that originated from multiple Côte de Nuits appellations. A Dry Muscat and Pinot Gris-Muscat blend are also offered. In 2014, a Pinot Noir-based port styled wine infused with roasted Oregon hazelnuts will be released along with a full-bodied Albarino wine. The winemaker is Dave Jepson who has a vision and his wines are true to that vision. Visit


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