Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir
After the fruit-forward, extracted and bold 2012 Pinot Noirs, the 2013 wines are a return to the classic
Willamette Valley style of lower alcohol, bright acidity, elegance and nuance. Some may find some of the wines
a bit demure, even austere at present, but they should put on weight with more bottle age. I am afraid that a
number of the 2013 Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley won’t impress the California palate.
Analemma Wines, founded in 2010 by winemakers Steven Thompson and Kris Fade, is one of the few
Columbia Gorge wineries growing and producing wines exclusively from within this region. The winery’s
beginnings trace back to an opportunity to farm the historic Atavus Vineyard (previously Dragonfly Vineyard) on
the Washington side of the Columbia River. This experimental site was a vision of Washington State
University’s Dr. Walter Clore. Planted in 1968 under the guidance of Walter J. Clore, it present conditions ideal
for Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer. Organically and biodynamically farmed at 1,700 feet elevation, this vineyard
is positioned on a southern slope with a sweeping view of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.
The name, Analemma, comes from the sun’s path as seen in the sky at the same time each month. Similar to
the symbol of infinity, the owners of the winery draw inspiration from this image of “boundlessness.”
Analemma Wines farms two distinct alpine environments. The Oak Ridge Vineyard sits at 1,400 feet in the
foothills of Mount Adams where Pommard and Dijon 115 are self-rooted and dry farmed in volcanic, ashy loam
soils. Six and a half miles south, the Atavus Vineyard contains nearly 50-year-old, self-rooted Mariafeld vines.
A sparkling wine, Blanc de Noir, is also produced from the Atavus Vineyard. The 2010 Analemma Atavus
Vineyard Blanc de Noir sparkling wine was a featured wine at the 2015 International Pinot Noir Celebration.
2013 Analemma Oak Ridge Vineyard Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 230 cases, $32. Pommard and 115 clones from a
certified organic vineyard. Majority whole cluster. Aged on lees for 16
months in neutral barrels and concrete.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Intensely fruity nose featuring cherry and raspberry. A bit feral
in character, with a mid weight core of dark berry fruit, accented with a
note of tar and a kiss of stems. Noticeably fervent entry and attack with a
focused finish replete with fruit and tannin.
2013 Analemma Atavus Vineyard Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir
12.3% alc., 70 cases, $N/A (release
spring 2016). 47-year-old Swiss Mariafeld clone of Pinot Noir. 100% whole cluster. Aged on lees for 14 months
in neutral barrels.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Inviting aromas of wild berries, spice and floral
bouquet, fading a bit over time in the glass. Light to mid weight flavors of black cherry, plum and raspberry with
thick wood and stem flavors, offering a slightly shallow mid palate attack. Brightened by citrusy acidity that
leads to a juicy finish and underlain with a firm tannic backbone, this wine is unusual in character and should
appeal to those looking for something intriguingly different in a whole cluster style.
Ghost Hill Cellars
The family owners of this property have farmed 234 acres on Savannah Ridge in the Yamhill-Crarlton AVA
since 1906. In 1999, 15 acres of Pinot Noir was planted and the first wine under the Ghost Hill Cellars label
was released from the 2006 vintage. Half of the estate grapes are sold to local wineries and half is used in the
Ghost Hill Cellars wines. The winemaker for several years. Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis, has been replaced in
2015 by Eric Hamacher, one of Oregon’s most respected winemakers. The tasting room is open weekends.
2012 Ghost Hill Cellars Prospector’s Reserve Savannah Ridge Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.74, 148
cases, $55. A special selection of barrels intended to create a more
masculine and intense reflection of the site and vintage. A blend of the
four main clones from the oldest part of the Bayliss-Bower Vineyard:
Wädenswil, Pommard, 777 and 114. Aged in 17% new French oak
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Exemplary purity of
black cherry fruit on the nose that really soars. A little more sap and
backbone than the regular bottling featuring mid weight flavors of Bing
cherry, red raspberry, cola, and baking spice. Very juicy acidity with
noticeable finishing power and length. Impeccably balanced for age
Keeler Estate Vineyard & Winery
Keeler Estate Vineyard & Winery began as an overgrown 200-acre farm east of the town of Amity, Oregon,
acquired by Craig and Gabriele Keeler in 1989. Vineyards were planted methodically and farmed
biodynamically. Today, the vineyard is Demeter® Biodynamic certified. The planted 30 acres include Dijon
clones 667, 777, 115 and 943, Pommard 4 and 5, and Wädenswil. The winemaker is Darcy Pendergrass. Visit
2013 Keeler Keeler Estate Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.59, 191 cases,
$38. Released September 2015. Harvest Brix 21.7º-22.2º. Pommard,
115 and Wädenswil. 100% de-stemmed. Aged in 100% French oak
barrels, 28% new. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Delightful aromatic array including plum, black cherry, dried herbs, spice,
rose petal and cedary oak. A discreetly concentrated styled wine in this
vintage, with mid weight plus flavors of black cherry and black raspberry,
embellished with savory dried herbs and a woody note. Nicely composed
with corralled tannins and some finishing length.
2014 Keeler Keeler Estate Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Oregon Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.45,
TA 0.60, RS < .2g/L, 156 cases, $28. Released June 2015. Whole cluster pressed, aged 8 months on lees in
65% once-filled French oak barrels and 35% stainless steel. Tartaric acid addition.
Light golden yellow color in
the glass. Aromas and flavors of crisp apple, pear, pastry cream and brioche. Very satisfying, with bright acidity
and a pleasing apple-driven finish.
With Burgundy native winemaker Florent-Pierre “Flo” Merlier now well established at this winery in Dallas,
Oregon, the wines have reached new heights and the winery now belongs in the upper echelon of Willamette
Valley wineries. The estate vineyards total 82 acres including multiple clones of Pinot Noir. A majority of the
wines are estate grown, but some singular bottlings are from grapes sourced from other regions in the
Willamette Valley. The winery’s Pinot Noir Rosé and Pinot Gris are among Oregon’s finest. The tasting room is
a little out of the way and not along the main Willamette Valley winery trail, but well worth an extra effort to visit. The website is www.vanduzer.com.
2013 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., 6,100 cases, $32, screwcap. Release
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Good character and flavor
featuring red cherry, spice, tobacco and dried herb flavors. Light and easy, with suede tannins and a
silky mouthfeel. Solid.
2013 Van Duzer Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., 223 cases, $40. Release
Moderate light reddish purple color in the glass. Gorgeous perfume of fresh dark cherry and
musk. Light to mid weight cherry goodness with a saucy spice accent. Very easy to like, with a silky texture,
modest tannins, welcome fruit purity and good persistence on the cherry-driven finish.
2013 Van Duzer Westside Blocks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., 272 cases, $55. Release 2016. A barrel selection.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Invigorating aromas of
cherry, raspberry and the right hint of oak. The delicious cherry core is
wrapped in gentle tannins and vibrant acidity. A rich middle palate and
virile finish give this wine a special breeding.
Winderlea Vineyard & Winery
Winderlea has a storied history in the Dundee Hills. It was formerly known as the Dundee Hills Vineyard when
it was first planted in 1974 and was later rechristened Goldschmidt Vineyard after the former Oregon governor
who bought the property in 1998. In 2006, Bill Sweat and Donna Morris, who had been highly successful in the
financial services industry, left the East Coast for Oregon and the following year bought the Goldschmidt
Vineyard, renaming it Winderlea Vineyard. The name is derived from a Vermont property the couple owned and
is a German word loosely translated as “valley protected from the wind. The couple brought on veteran
winemaker, Robert Brittan to direct the Pinot Noir program.
A tasting room, positioned to take advantage of the panoramic views of the Dundee Hills offers a relaxing
venue for wine appreciation and has become an iconic landmark of the Dundee Hills. The inaugural releases of
Winderlea Pinot Noir were from the 2006 vintage. Visit the website at www.winderlea.com.
2013 Winderlea Juliard Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., 99 cases, $48.
This south sloping parcel is located on Worden Hill Road, one-quarter of a mile from Winderlea. It was planted
in the 1980s and 1990s. Own-rooted, old vine Pommard clone. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 20%
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A perfume of ripe strawberry, cherry and spice leads to a light
to mid weight essence of black cherry and raspberry fruits. Straightforward and simple, with soft tannins and a
suave texture. Easy to like, but seems a bit under ripe.
2013 Winderlea Weber Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.60, 230 cases, $48 (sold out).
Weber Vineyard was formerly named Ana Vineyard and with the first
release under the new name, the longtime growers Arthur and Vivian
Weber are celebrated. This vineyard has some of the oldest own-rooted
Pinot Noir in Oregon, dating to the 1970s. Pommard primarily with some
Dijon 777. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 8% new.
red color in the glass. The nose really impresses out of the gate with
soaring aromas of red cherry and spice. Delicious attack of deep cherry
flavor with added notes of spice and cola. Well-matched tannins and a
slightly gravelly texture add to the appeal. A complete, vibrant wine that
really wakes up the senses.
2013 Winderlea Murto Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5%, pH 3.20, TA 0.68, 118
cases, $48. This vineyard is a neighbor of Winderlea located just west, owned and farmed by Mike and Robin
Murto. Planted in 1978 at 400’ to 700’ elevation on a south-facing slope. Pommard and Wädenswil clones.
Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 38% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads
with bright aromas of black cherry, red berry spread, and white pepper. Flavored with black cherry and plum
fruits, this polished, fruit-driven and high-strung wine is easy to like now. The soprano finish has good depth of
2013 Winderlea Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 116 cases, $48.
Maresh Vineyard, located west of Winderlea Vineyard, was planted in 1970 and is the fifth oldest vineyard in
the Willamette Valley. Dijon 115. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 38% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but lovely aromas of cherry
syrup, dried herbs and spice cabinet. Rather elegant, even delicate, offering a boastful and succulent core of
red cherry fruit that has class and breeding. Immediately embracing, with suave tannins and bright acidity.
2013 Winderlea Crawford Beck Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 155
cases, $48 (sold out). Released October 18, 2014. 15 acres planted in Jory soils by scientists David and
Jeanne Beck, transplants from New Jersey. Dijon 115, Clone 60, Swan and Pommard. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 18% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of cherry, red
berries, soy and woodlands. Forward drinking with a middleweight charge of fresh cherry, red berry, savory
herb and toasty oak flavors. A bit earthy, with firm but balanced tannins and a juicy finish.
2013 Winderlea Meredith Mitchell Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $N/A.
This vineyard was planted in 1988 by owners Susan Meredith and spouse Frank Mitchell. The own-rooted
vines are planted in rocky basalt sedimentary soils.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas
of dark cherries, humus and earth highlight the nose. On entry, the black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry
fruits are embellished with notes of earth and mushrooms. The wine is noticeably high pitched with wellmatched
tannins and a black raspberry, razor sharp finish.
2013 Winderlea Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 556 cases, $60.
Pommard and Wädenswil clones from Block 21 on the West Hill part of Shea Vineyard. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of cherry,
strawberry and cranberry fruits. Relatively light and elegant, with an array of red fruits and earthy goodness,
and blessed with matching tannins. Rather linear on the mid palate, but has a very satisfying and persistent
finish which is the wine’s best feature.
2013 Winderlea Dundee Hills Vineyards Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 817 cases,
$38. Released October 18, 2014. Maresh, Murto and Weber vineyards. Dijon 115, Pommard and Dijon 777
clones. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 10% new.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. The
signature cherry aromas and flavors of the Dundee Hills are highlighted with added notes of red raspberry,
cranberry, and iron. Good mid palate presence with inviting balance and vibrancy and no intrusive oak.
2013 Winderlea Winderlea Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., $60. This is the
winery’s flagship wine culled from all 13 vineyard blocks.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
sous-bois, mushroom and red and purple fruits led to a well-structured wine with decent drive and finish. The
red stone and berry fruits on the palate had appeal although I sensed that the fruit was slightly under ripe. The
modest fine grain tannins and bright acidity lent a vibrancy to the earthy wine. Tasted twice with the same
2013 Winderlea Imprint Winderlea Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 176
cases, $42. Released September 2015. Coury and Pommard clones. This is the only wine produced onsite at
the Winderlea Estate Vineyard. It is crafted by owner Bill Sweat using 100% whole cluster fermentation,
pigeage and natural yeasts. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 39% once-used.
Moderately light cherry
red color in the glass. Distinctive whole cluster highlights on the nose, featuring aromas of cherry, spice, cedar
and rose petal. The light to mid weighted core of red fruits also shows hints of sandalwood and flower, leading
to a juicy, red fruited finish that has a spice flourish. A feminine wine with supple tannins that are more gentle
than one would expect from 100% whole cluster. I believe this wine shows more the effect of whole cluster
fermentation than the vineyard character that is better exemplified in the Winderlea Vineyard bottling. Still, this
is a unique, fun wine.
2013 Winderlea Legacy Winderlea Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $75. This wine is meant to highlight the
most favorable characteristics of the 35-year-old 16-acre Winderlea
Estate Vineyard. The grapes are drawn from vines planted between
1974 and 1976 (Pommard, Dijon 115, Coury and Wädenswil clones).
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Deep aromas of red
cherry, spice, sandalwood and cowhide draw you into the glass. This is
a silky, relatively delicate wine that offers a charming and flavorful array
of red fruits that are subtlety spiced and backed by gossamer tannins. A
lacy wine that personifies the feminine side of Pinot Noir.
2013 Winderlea Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., 525
cases, $38. Released October 18, 2014. Sourced from Carabella (45%),
Hyland (13.5%) and Thistle (18%) vineyards. Dijon 76 and 95, CA 108 and 4. Aged 10 months in French oak
barrels, 17% new.
Light yellow color in the glass. Steely aromas of pear, yellow apple, buttery brioche and lees.
Crisp and vibrant on the palate, with lovely flavors of peach, apple and a hint of vanilla creme. Nicely balanced,
with a lip-smacking finish. I liked it better over time in the glass.