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Small Sips of Oregon Pinot Noir

2008 Evening Land Vineyards Oregon Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $25. Second vintage from a new Oregon and California producer. Sourced from Southern Oregon (50%), the Eola-Amity Hills (30%) and Dundee Hills (20%). Natural fermentation, 20% whole cluster. Noted Burgundy vigneron, Dominque Lafon, consults on the Oregon wines. · Dark reddish-purple in color. The shy dark red fruits are overshadowed by heavy oak toast and burnt caramel aromas. Juicy core of red and purple stone fruits and berries with a citrus underpinning. Full-bodied, fruit-driven and simple with supple tannins for easy daily drinking. Oregon fruit in a California style. Decent (+).

2008 Haden Fig Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.50, $25. Sourced from five Willamette Valley vineyards (Cancilla, Mahonia, Momtazi, Eola Springs and Madrona) cropped a 2.0 to 2.5 tons per acre. A debut wine from owner and winemaker Erin Nuccio. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Deep and heady scents of dark cherries, forest floor, oak toast and crushed rock. Light but pleasing in the mouth with tasty black cherry, cranberry and dark berry fruit with a faint sidecar of oak spice. Soft tannins and bright, refreshing acidity on the finish. A terrific value-priced wine from a great Oregon vintage offered in a classy and hip package. Relatively simple, but a very user-friendly drinker that will perform beautifully at the dinner table. Very good.

2008 Ken Wright Cellars Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $42. · Subdued, but lovely aromas of red plums, wild berries and grilled meat. A bolt of dark red and black fruits attacks the palate with a vengeance, clothed in ripe tooth-sticking tannin and sporting a lively grip of acidity. Reserved and not together yet. Much better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with much improved integration of oak, tannin and acidity. Check back in 2 to 4 years. Very good.

2007 Soléna Grande Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.5 alc., 3,500 cases, $25. Sourced from several sub-appellations of the Willamette Valley including the estate vineyard, Domaine Danielle Laurent. 100% destemmed, cold macerated, punched down by hand, 20 days skin contact, aged 6 months in 17% new French oak barrels, unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color. Shy aromas of strawberries with accents of savory herbs and oak cask. A middle weight wine sporting dark red berry fruit that is silky and discreetly rich in the mouth with deft notes of oak. Softly textured with supple tannins for early drinking. Decent.

2007 North Valley Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $30. Crafted at Soter Vineyards using vineyard sources with diverse clones, soil types and microclimates. · Attractive scents of strawberries, black cherries and spice with a hint of smoke and volatile acidity. A lighter-weighted offering with an appealing essence of fresh berries accented by savory herbs, mocha, and citrus peel. A good daily drinker but hard to recommend at this price. Decent (+).

2007 Soléna Domaine Danielle Laurent Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 350 cases, $45. Seventh vintage from this biodynamically-farmed 80-acre vineyard that is densely planted and located adjacent Shea Vineyard. Clones are Pommard and Dijon 115, 667, 777 and 828. High percentage of stems removed, 6-day cold soak, 25 days of skin contact, fermented in small lots in rotary barrels (barrels are rotated for “punch down” effect to gently extract color and tannins), aged 11 months in 33% new French oak barrels from a variety of coopers, unfined and unfiltered. · The nose is more savory than fruity with hints of oak toast, wet leaves and barnyard. The flavors trend to fresh wild berries matched with plenty of toasty oak that surfaces notably on the finish. Silky textured with complimentary fine tannins. The lovely fruit just can’t surface above the noise from the oak. Cellaring may allow more oak integration. For now, it is just decent.

2006 Winter’s Hill Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.47, 1,195 cases, $29. From the winery’s 35-acre estate vineyard which is Certified Sustainable and SalmonSafe. De-stemmed, cold soaked for 2 days, aged 18 months in 25% new French oak. Winemaker Delphine Gladhart. · Aromas of ripe black cherries, berry jam and raisins. Juicy and moderately rich fruit pushing ripeness to the edge. Typical of the 2006 vintage in Oregon and will appeal to ripe fruit lovers. Decent.

2006 Soléna Willakia Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.63, 97 cases, $35. Pommard and Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed, cold maceration for 8 days, fermented in rotary barrels, aged 15 months in 50% new French oak, unfined and unfiltered. · Very shy aromatics with little to report other than faint purple fruits and a hint of smoke. Delicious dark stone fruit core that is rich and satisfying wrapped in husky tannins. Very smooth and sensual in the mouth with a perfect rift of acidity. Solid, but not exceptional, and lacks aromatic interest. Very good (-).

2006 Winter’s Hill Vineyard Cuvée du Vigneron Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.47, 226 cases, $39. Of the 21 acres planted to Pinot Noir in the estate vineyard between 1990 and 2000, only the Pommard clone is used in this bottling. Barrel aging is tailored to the tannin and fruit make-up of each lot of fermenting wine. Aged 18 months in barrel. · Subdued but pleasing aromas of black cherries, earthy loam and forest floor. Fairly thick and imposing core of darker cherry and berry fruit with hints of mocha and marzipan. Similar to the regular Dundee Hills bottling but more high brow with better harmony and less overripe tendencies. Very smoothly textured with a fresh and lively finish. Very good.

2006 Soléna Hyland Vineyard McMinnville Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.33, $45. This 120-acre vineyard planted in 1970 and purchased by the Montalieus in 2007. Soils are volcanic Jory and some Nekia. The vineyard contains both own-rooted old-growth plantings and newer, grafted Pinot Noir clones. Grapes were de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak, fermented in rotary barrels, aged 15 months in 215 new French oak, unfined and unfiltered. · Very subdued aromatics with delicate floral and berry scents. Impressive infusion of berry jam on the palate with oak in the background. Smooth and harmonious with supple tannins, snappy acidity and moderate persistence on the finish. A sophisticated wine of great interest. Very good.

2006 Winter’s Hill Vineyard Reserve Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.56, 146 cases, $45. The best six barrels of estate fruit out of 40. Aged 17 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Dark purple in color in the glass. Nicely composed nose that is both fruity and floral as well as spicy. A berry jubilee on the palate with a hint of savory herbs and Provencal spices. Full-bodied, with noticeable lithe tannins and a moderately long fruit presence on the snappy finish. Tasted later in the day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had lost most of its charm. I am not sure this one can stay the course. Decent (+).

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