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Tasting Noiregon Pinot Noir



2007 Vintage


Nick and Sheila Nicholas launched Anam Cara Cellars in 2001, a small family owned and operated winery primarily devoted to Pinot Noir from estate grapes. The words Anam Cara are Celtic for “friend of my soul,” and symbolize the journey that the pair have taken to make their wine. The Nicholas Estate vineyard consists of 30 acres situated between the towns of Sherwood and Newberg in the Chehalem Mountains appellation. Formerly a walnut, hazelnut and plum orchard, the vines were planted in 2001 to Dijon clones 114, 115, 667, 777 and Pommard. A further 6 acres were planted in 2008 consisting of 2 acres each of Riesling, Chardonnay and Wädenswil clone Pinot Noir. The wines are crafted by noted Oregon winemaker Aron Hess. The wines are sold through a mailing list on the website at www.anamcaracellars.com. The 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs reviewed below are lighter in color, lower in alcohol, lower in fruit intensity and impact, but more classic in style than their 2006 Anam Cara counterparts.

2007 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 1,100 cases, $33. Composed of all the clones in the estate vineyard. Aged 11 months in 21% new French oak. · Hi-tone black cherry aromas are underscored by toasty oak on the nose. Tasty essence of dark cherries and berries with oak toast and mocha in the background. The tannins are supple giving the wine a welcoming drinkability. The oak tends to overshadow the fruit. Decent.

2007 Anam Cara Cellars Heather’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 70 cases, $65.100% Dijon 114 clone. Aged 11 months in neutral barrels. · Aromas of red cherries and berries with a whiff of oak. Elegantly styled, soft and sensual focused on an earth-kissed red cherry core of fruit. The tannins are silky and the bright acidity supports a refreshing finish. May be too light in flavor intensity for this price range, but this wine is intended to be feminine in style. This style probably works better in an Oregon vintage like 2006. Decent (+).

2007 Anam Cara Cellars Estate Reserve Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 280 cases, $45. Composed of selected barrels sourced from specific rows thinned to low yields (1.5 tons per acre). · Alluring perfume of blackberries, plum and tea with a hint of oak. Rich but not cloying array of berry fruits that are thoroughly engaging. Admirable finesse, perfect harmony and a finish that keeps you coming back for more. Great two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A keeper that is liquid nobility.

2007 Anam Cara Cellars Mark II Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 70 cases, $65. Aged in 51% new French oak for 11 months. 69% Pommard and 31% Dijon 777. A boldly styled wine consisting of a vineyard and barrel selection named for the owner’s son, Mark. · Brooding aromatics slowly revealing dark stone fruits, mocha java and toasted oak. Delicious attack of plums, blackberries, cola and mocha flavors that are still immature and evolving. Great stuffing and amazing persistence on the fruit-filled finish. Needs time to soften the firm tannins and fully integrate the new oak, but patience will be rewarded. Still rather closed two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good.



2007 Cristom Salud Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 4 cases. This is a special bottling for the 2009 Salud Oregon Wine Auction. I bid and won a case of this wine. You can’t buy it! · Great scents of exotic Middle Eastern spice, cardamon and dark red fruits. Elegantly styled array of redder fruits that are nicely spiced. Bright and juicy with a big jolt of spiced cherry on the dry finish. Tantalizing like see-through lingerie. Crazy love.



2008 Vintage


2008 is being hailed as possibly the best vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir in this decade. The vintage was not without its challenges. The perfect spring threw a huge crop, even two to three times normal if no thinning was done. Rains arrived in September creating the potential for mold. Then hot weather returned in September and October increasing the potential for high sugars and over ripe flavors. Those wineries that harvested the grapes earlier before sugars rose brought in fresh fruits and the resulting wines appear to be stellar. The resulting wines are midway between the 2006 and 2007 vintage wines, with forward fruit typical of 2006 Pinot Noirs, combined with the acidity, brightness, and low tannins of the 2007 Pinot Noirs. The alcohols in 2008 are higher than in 2007, but still moderate

Et Fille is a partnership between winemaker Howard Mozeico and his daughter, Jessica. The name, “Et Fille,” means in French “and daughter.” Howard jokes that, “Mozeico Et Fille” just wouldn’t work. The pink Et Fille labels are quite distinctive. Howard crafts small lots of primarily single vineyard Pinot Noirs that reflect the unique terroir of each individual vineyard. His vineyard sources are prime, including the well-known Maresh Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. The wines are vinified at August Cellars, a state-of-the-art gravity flow winery shared by several small producers. Production of Et Fille wines (their is also a Viognier and Rosé) is limited to about 1,500 cases and most of the wine is sold through a mailing list (www.etfille.com). I have been a fan of the wines for a few years. The prices are quite sensible considering the high quality. Magnums are available. Tasting at August Cellars is by appointment (503-449-4030).

2008 Et Fille Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 931 cases, $24. A blend of seven vineyards over several sub-appellations of the Williamette Valley. Aged 10 months in 21% new oak. · Bright aromas of red fruits, decaying leaves, cardamon spice and oak toast. Respectably rich core of slightly tart red berry flavors including cranberry with soft tannins and a notable grip of acidity on the refreshing finish. A good daily drinker. Decent (+).

2008 Et Fille Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., 100 cases, $42. Pommard clone grown at one of the oldest vineyards in the Dundee Hills. Aged 9 months in 40% new oak. · Beautiful perfume of cherries, berry jam, spice box and floral scents. The palate is not as forward as the nose but opens over time in the glass revealing dark red and blue fruits that are crisp and juicy. The tannins are supple and the acidity is vibrant. Still closed and not imposing yet, but the pedigree of the fruit shows through in the persistent finish, and this will be a terrific wine in a couple of years. Very good (+).

2008 Et Fille Kalita Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 206 cases, $38. The vineyard is owned by Arthur and Sherry Kalita. Pommard and Wädenswil clones. Aged 9 months in 42% new oak. · Subdued but pleasing darker stone fruit and berry aromas with a complimentary whiff of oak. Very tasty essence of black cherries with a hint of vanillin oak. Mild dry tannins, exemplary acid spine and a mouth filling presence. More rugged and intense than the Maresh. Still a little closed and will need cellaring. Very good (+).



Ken Wright is one of Willamette Valley’s most icon winemakers. Working out of his winery in Carlton, he crafts multiple single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from several appellations, including several estate vineyards that he owns. It is his Shea Vineyard bottling that I covet the most. He also produces a small amount of distinguished Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Wright’s Pinot Noirs typically are backward on release, requiring a few years of cellaring to develop their charms. You must be aware of this or you might be disappointed when tasting the wines shortly after release. Wright’s website emphasizes that the ideal drinking window is 2009 to 2012 for many of his wines released from 1998 to 2003. The Pinot Noirs have widespread retail distribution and are also sold as futures on the website. The winery is not open to the public. The informative website is www.kenwrightcellars.com.

2008 Ken Wright Cellars Canary Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $42. The Canary Hill Vineyard is owned by Ken and Karen Wright. Planted in 1983 to Pommard clone, the vineyard is located at the southern end of the Eola Hills in Jory soil. · Hi-tone aromas of red and black fruits with backing oak and a vegetal note. The fruits are moderately concentrated and clothed in noticeably firm and wooly tannins. The smooth texture is quite pleasing and there is a hint of citric peel on the bright finish. Not as expressive as it will be, even tasting a little dilute now, but will reward the patient. Decent (+), but may merit a higher rating in a few years.

2008 Ken Wright Cellars Carter Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $42. This vineyard is owned by Jack and Kathleen Carter and managed by Mark Gould. Located in the southern end of the Eola Hills, this vineyard is primarily Nekia soils and was planted in 1983. Clones 115, 667, 777, Pommard and Wädenswil. · Needs air time to open revealing purple fruits, forest floor and oak. On the palate, the plum sauce essence is quite pleasing, yet restrained, with a supporting note of oak. The husky tannins need time to shed. Silky in the mouth. Decent (+).

2008 Ken Wright Cellars Savoya Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $42. This vineyard is owned by Ken and Karen Wright and managed by Mark Gould. Planting began in 1999 with five clones. · Very attractive perfume of black cherries and berries with a hint of wildflowers and oak. Juicy and lipsmacking in the mouth and fairly approachable now. Undertones of grilled meat add interest. Well-crafted with harmonious t n ‘a and a lasting finish. Very good.



2008 Bruno Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13% alc., $14.50. A second label for Evesham Wood. · Slightly sweet aromas of cherries, berries and violets. Mediumweighted core of berry fruit with brown spice accents, a soft texture, minimal tannins, and a clean bright finish. A daily drinker. Decent.

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