A lively group of 15 winos gathered on a recent Monday afternoon to taste Oregon Pinot Noirs. Jay
Selman, of Grape Radio fame, hosts a monthly wine tasting at which every participant brings a bottle
or two and tasty food is provided by Picnics Deli. There is plenty of geeky talk about wine, but no one
takes themselves too seriously. At the end, votes are tallied for the top four wines. There were 23
wines total and I have included some comments where appropriate. The top 4 wines are listed first.
2004 Privé Le Sud Yamhill County Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $50 (futures price). Mark and Tina Hammond hand craft their
Pinot Noirs from two acres of vines planted on their estate on Chehalem
Mountain. They bottle three wines, Le Sud from the south 1 acre, Le Nord
from the north 1 acre, and Joie de Vivre, a reserve. Quantities are miniscule
and demand is high.
This Pinot is crafted in a feminine style. Light to
medium bodied, it is lacy and understated but with considerable complexity.
Notes of savory cherries, spice (especially cinnamon), and roses are featured in the nose and flavors. Oak
is perfectly integrated and the whole package is meticulously balanced. Still a Lolita, it was one of those
Pinot Noirs that defies adequate description. This wine was the overwhelming favorite of the tasting.
1999 Beaux Freres Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Super ripe fruits with a hint of
alcohol dominate the aromatics. There is plenty of stuffing - darker fruits, anise and toasty oak. The finish
is dry, stemmy and woody. With a predominance of tannins, alcohol and a paucity of acid, the whole
package lacks balance.
1998 St. Innocent Seven Springs Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
A surprisingly youthful wine with too much tannin on the back
end for me. Some tasters felt it could improve and soften with additional aging.
Certainly built to age, but I think it will always retain a certain edginess. There was
plenty of high-quality cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate.
1998 Thomas Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
A controversial wine made in the Eyrie style
that split the group. I found the aged bouquet appealing featuring leather, Asian spice and cherry. The
fruit was light and demure.