Several Very Good to Extraordinary Oregon Pinot Noirs Tasted Recently
2013 Formaglini Vineyards La Quercia Block Oregon Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 230 cases, $45. Second
release. From a 4-acre estate vineyard planted in sedimentary soil. Released June 7, 2015. Clones 777, “828,”
115 and Pommard.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very savory on the nose with scents of forest
floor, pine needle, and oak. More fruity on the palate with discreetly concentrated flavors of red and purple
berries along with dried herbs. The tannins are balanced and the quenching acidity adds pleasure, but the fruit
is playing hide-and-seek. Over considerable time in the glass, the red fruits do pick up intensity on the finish.
Give this wine some time in the cellar to unravel.
2013 Harper Voit Strandline Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 450 cases, $40. Sourced from
Antiquum, Bieze and Huntington Hill vineyards.
Moderately light crimson color in the glass. Aromas of cherry,
musk, pipe smoke and sous-bois. Mid weight cherry and raspberry flavors with food mid palate intensity and
some finish. A touch of spice and dark chocolate chime in. Well-structured with oak in the background,
finishing with some cranberry-driven acidity.
2013 Harper Voit Bieze Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 125 cases,
$65. Calera and Pommard clones.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is quite primary initially
and doesn’t open until the following day, showing more appealing black cherry fruit and less smoky oak. This
wine has an enjoyable mid weight core of black cherry and raspberry fruit framed by balanced, dry tannins.
There is noticeable mid palate intensity and some length on the slightly astringent finish. A smoky aura
pervades this wine, even when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. The
wine hasn’t come together, so try again in a year or two
2013 Harper Voit Perrydale Hills Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 150 cases, $52.
Marine sedimentary soils.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is still primary, but offers
demure aromas of dark berry jam, cinnamon toast and violets. Rich, sappy and intensely fruity on the mid
palate with waves of blackberry, black grape and black raspberry fruits accented with spice. Immature tannins
need time to integrate over time. The finish is packed with fruit but uplifted with a cut of citrus.
2013 Harper Voit Antiquum Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 100 cases, $65. Pommard, 777 and Wädenswil planted in
Bellpine soil at high elevation.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Upon opening, the nose showed scents of berries, thatch, wax and
medicinal but the following day was much more fruit-driven. Delicious
mid weight cherry and dark red berry core with a hint of spice, red hots
and gingerbread. This wine stands out as unique and possesses an
especially appealing round mouthfeel and a long finish of immense
interest. Even better the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle with layers of luscious plum, black cherry and dark berry
fruits that woke up the palate.
2013 Hyland Estates Wädenswil Hyland Vineyards McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.67, 50 cases, $60. Harvest Brix 24.3º. Aged 8 to 10 months in 18% new French oak barrels.
red color in the glass. Complex nose featuring aromas of cherry, strawberry, spice, earth and vanilla malt. This
wines picks up interest and intensity over time in the glass, offering a mid weight chewy core of sweet cherry
fruit framed by soft tannins and a touch of oak.
2013 Hyland Estates Pommard Hyland Vineyards McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.76, 50 cases, $60. Harvest Brix 24º. Aged 9 months in neutral French oak barrels. A 2 barrel selection of
vines planted in 1987.
Moderately light crimson color in the glass. The perfume of fresh cherries, red
raspberries, rose petal and sandalwood is enchanting. Eye-opening attack of Bing cherry fruit with a touch of
cola that carries over on a long, juicy finish. Very suave tannins make for easy drinking. I am not usually a fan
of single clone Pinot Noir, but Pommard is the best clone at pulling it off. Pommard is my paramour.
2013 Hyland Estates Dijon 115 Hyland Vineyards McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.67, 45 cases, $60. Harvest Brix 22º-23º. Aged 9 months in neutral French oak barrels.
crimson color in the glass. Enjoyable fragrance of cherry, sous-bois and seasoned oak. Very elegant, with
lovely red cherry and berry fruits accented with spice, and backed by firm tannins. My only nit is that a touch of
heat shows up on the finish.
2012 Hyland Estates Estate McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 740 cases, $38.
Released November 2014. 260-acre vineyard planted in 1971 in Jory soils.
Moderately light crimson color in
the glass. Vibrant aromas of red cherry and cranberry. Elegant and charming on the palate, with a light to mid
weight core of cherry fruit, nicely spiced. Easy to drink, with suave tannins and finishing with juicy red cherry
and strawberry fruits with a hint of dried herbs in the background.
2012 Hyland Estates Coury McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 375 cases, $60.
Released September 2014. A limited barrel selection from self-rooted vines in the oldest blocks of the
vineyard planted to the “Coury clone.”
Moderately light crimson color in the glass. The nose is both
fruity (cherries) and earthy (mushrooms). Delicious layers of black cherry, black raspberry, plum and
spice flavors that expand in the mouth and deliver a very long, pleasing finish. Beautifully crafted, with
a sleek mouthfeel and endless charm.
2012 Hyland Estates Founders’ Selection McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 75 cases, $100.
Released November 2014. A one barrel selection with special
label and wax closure.
Moderately light crimson color in the
glass. Exotic aromas of spice, potpourri and black cherry draw
the taster into the glass. Delicious mid weight flavors of perfectly
ripened black cherry and black raspberry fruits with added notes of
Hoison sauce and spice. Impeccably balanced with suave tannins, a
peach fuzz texture, and an hi-tone and vibrant finish of uncommon
length. This wine really delivers the essence of fresh fruit and finishes
with a serious purpose. A keeper.
Lenné Estate Steve and Karen Lutz bought a 21-acre site near the town of Yamhill, Oregon, in 2001 and
planted 15 acres of densely spaced Pinot Noir on the site beginning in 2001. The clones are Pommard, 114,
115, 777 and 667. The vines are dry farmed. The vineyard is managed and farmed by Steve and the wine is
made by Steve at Owen Roe with the help of their crew. Lenné takes its name from Karen’s late father Lenny
an Englishman and farmer whose spirit lives on at Lenné
2012 Lenné Estate Eleanor’s 114 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 100 cases, $55. Best
barrels from clone 114 block. The wine is named after owner Steve Lutz’s mother.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. This wine has a cooked fruit character, something the 114 clone apparently offers in a ripe
fruited vintage. Aromas of black cherry, crème de cassis and pomegranate lead to a mid weight palate of
succulent black cherry, black currant, and blackberry fruit that tastes slightly burnt. That said, the wine is
beautifully crafted with plenty of luscious fruit in this vintage to appeal to fruit hedonists.
2012 Lenné Estate cinq élus Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.72, 126 cases, $72. This wine is offered
only in great vintages. The name, cinq élos means “five chosen.”
A blend of the best barrels in the cellar from 5 separate clones
planted in the vineyard (Pommard, 114, 115, 777 and 667). 100%
de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, inoculated yeast. Aged 11 months
in 100% French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple
color in the glass. Very sexy aromas of purple and black berries, exotic
spices and vanilla bean. Mid weight plus in style and texturally superb
with a satiny presence that only Pinot Noir can deliver. Delicious flavors
of black plum, kirsch and blackberry that seem to come in waves over
the palate. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and
re-corked bottle, the wine had really come alive with a striking nose
offering penetrating scents of very ripe purple berries and spice, layers of dense fruit that saturate the palate,
and an incredibly long finish. Steve Lutz is very proud of this wine and rightly so. Don’t hurry to drink this
beauty (a Lolita).
Soléna Estate Jackson Family Wine Estates bought the 35-acre Soléna Estate property and winery in
Yamhill-Carlton AVA from Laurent Montalieu and Danielle Andrus Montalieu in 2013. The Montalieus retained
their 20-acre Domaine Danielle Laurent Vineyard and the Soléna label and have a new facility that provides
cellar storage for Soléna and Grand Cru Estates wines. Soléna wine production is at Northwest Wine Company
2013 Soléna Grand Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.3% alc., pH 3.55, 4,210 cases, $28. Sourced
from family owned vineyards in Yamhill-Carlton AVA and vinified in small lots. Harvest Brix 21º. Aged 9 months
in almost 100% neutral French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas
of Maraschino cherry, raspberry and spice. Light in weight and both savory and fruity, with flavors of cherry
and raspberry and a sweet, vibrant cherry finish that has a bit of astringency and trailing oak.
2013 Soléna Guadalupe Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.57, 198
cases, $40. Vineyard was densely planted to Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon clones in sedimentary
Willakenzie soils in 2006. Harvest Brix 21.7º. Aged 9 months in 38% new French oak barrels.
color in the glass. Shy aromas of cherry pie glaze and cedary oak. Light to mid weight flavors of cherries and
strawberries. The silky texture is appealing, but the tannins currently dominate the fruit. This wine needs more
time in the cellar for the tannins to soften and the fruit to fully emerge.
2013 Soléna Willakia Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.72, 199
cases, $40. Vines planted in volcanic soils in 2001. Harvest Brix 24º-26º. Aged 9 months in 50% new French
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The brilliant cherry goodness really stands out
on the nose and palate, with a dancing attack and extended finish. Very silky in the mouth, with husky tannins
that show up on the finish. Oak tends to exert its presence over time in the glass. Still, the fruit is hard to
2013 Soléna Zena Crown Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $40. Nekia volcanic soils.
Light reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose takes some time to unravel, eventually offering an
appealing mix of Bing cherry and ripe strawberry fruit aromas with
savory mushroom and woody flora scents. A spirited wine with generous
black cherry and cranberry fruit accented with spice. Welcome finesse
with excellent balance and inviting vibrancy, finishing with some
2013 Soléna Domaine Danielle Laurent Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.60,
995 cases, $50. Harvest Brix 21º-22º. An 80-acre estate vineyard planted in Willakenzie soil. Densely planted
80-acre vineyard planted to 114, 11, 667, 777, “828,” Pommard and Swan selection. The wine includes some
Willakia Vineyard grapes. Aged 9 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Shy aromas of dark red cherry and berry with a bit of spice and sous-bois. Very reserved on the palate,
with tannin and oak overshadowing the earthy fruit core, and offering little goodness on the finish. When tasted
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still closed. Very hard to score
and I am banking on the future.
Willamette Valley Vineyards This winery was established in 1983 by winegrower and Oregon native, Jim
Bernau. The winery has collaboratively grown its estate vineyards through partnerships with the merger with
Bill Fuller of Tualatin Vineyards and the O’Briens of Elton Vineyard. This was the first “crowd funded” winery in
the nation and has since grown to 5,000 shareholders.
2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7$ alc., $22. Produced
from fermented uncrushed grape clusters (carbonic maceration) and aged in stainless steel. Harvest Brix
21.3º-25.6. Clones 114, 115, 667, 777, Pommard and Wädenswil planted in Jory, Laurelwood and Missoula
Light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, dark rose petal and oak.
Light, slightly confected flavors of cherry and raspberry, with a floral note. Forward drinking, with supple
tannins. Good depth and ripeness with some finish. Chill this wine slightly for pleasurable summer drinking.
2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 15,400 cases, $30.
Sourced from three estate vineyards (Estate original winery plantings, Tualatin Vineyard, and Elton Vineyard)
planted in iron-rich volcanic soils. Certified sustainable-LIVE and Salmon Safe. Harvest Brix 21º-24.5º. Clones
113, 114, 667, 777, Pommard and Wädenswil. Aged 10 months in 10% new French oak barrels.
light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry pie glaze, seasoned oak and mulch. Light in weight,
with somewhat shallow cherry and red berry flavors framed by modest dry tannins. Lacks initiative on the
attack and finish.
2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Bernau Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 2,000 cases, $55. Harvest Brix 23.0º-24.5º.
Sourced from 15 acres of original plantings. Clones 667, 777 and
Pommard planted in Nekia volcanic soil. Aged 10 months in 35% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but
pleasant aromas of fresh cherries and dark red berries. Vibrant on the
palate, with sheer beauty of flavor, featuring perfectly ripened dark red
fruits backed by integrated tannins. This special wine has a seductively
smooth texture, impeccable balance, and finishes with uncommon length
that resonates for a minute.