Tasting the Six Appellations with Grape Radio
Grape Radio hosts Jay Selman and Eric Anderson joined me recently to taste 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot
Noirs representing each of the six sub-appellations (there was one 2005 vintage wine). I am trying to educate
Jay about Pinot Noir and it is a long, arduous and thankless task. The convivial banter can be heard on an
upcoming Grape Radio podcast.
2006 Et Fille Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $42.
Noticeably redder and lighter in
color. Shy aromas of herbed red fruits with a petrol note. Light and elegant on the palate, the red cherry, red
currant and pomegranate flavors are enhanced by a luscious spiciness most noticeably nutmeg.
2006 Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $39.
An immensely satisfying and highcollared
red cherry and berry melange, smoothly textured and displaying a welcome mineral and aciddriven
liveliness and refined tannins. I have found several tasters who prefer more intense and
hedonistic fruit to be disappointed in this wine but I find it remarkably pinotypical.
2006 Torii Mor Eola Amity Hills Select Pinot Noir
14.25% alc., $50.
Brimming with a complex bouquet of
blue and purple fruits, roasted nuts, oak spice and a touch of tobacco. The black cherry core saturates the midpalate.
The wine is very smoothly textured with enough lively acidity to satiate the thirst.
2006 Cristom Eileen Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $24 (1/2 bottle).
A spicy, cherry driven
wine that is alive with scent and flat out delicious. Very harmonious with faint oak influence,
supple ripe tannins and a gentle texture. The best wine of many great wines in this lineup today.
2006 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block McMinnville Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $45.
This wine keeps opening and
opening in the glass. Sumptuous blackberry, cranberry and pomegranate fruit with an earthy bent. Attractive
nose endowed with minerality, forest floor and a touch of alcohol. Smooth and supple tannins.
2005 Beaux Freres The Beaux Freres Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $75.
expensive, yet the group’s least preferred wine in the lineup. Attractive aromas of dark red fruits, rose petals
and root beer. Deep red raspberries and currants are well-oaked, tannins are substantial, and there is good
persistence on the citric peel themed finish.
2006 Soter Beacon Hill Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $50.
An interesting nose with scents
of Mexican spices, cumin, spearmint and red and blue fruits. Solid black cherry core with notable minerality,
mild dry tannins and an elegant presence. Well-crafted but not extraordinary for me.
Every taster had their favorites but the fact remains that Oregon is producing regal Pinot Noirs with plenty of
welcoming balance, length and acidity. Could we match these wines to their respective sub-appellations if
tasted blind? No way, except maybe the Dundee Hills Pinot Noirs. Nevertheless, it is a commendable geeky
pastime to talk about Pinot Noir characteristics from the different sub-appellations.