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More Sips of Noiregon Pinot

2007 Alexana Revana Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $38. The inaugural estate Pinot Noir. Six clones including 113, 115, 667, 777, Pommard and Wädenswil. The winemaker is Lynn Penner-Ash. The proprietor is Dr. Madaiah Revana who named this wine as a tribute to his daughter Alexandra. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely and seductive nose which hints at gardenias upon opening, evolving to reveal aromas of strawberry tart, baking spices and red cherries. Soft and elegant on the palate with gossamer tannins, offering the delicious essence of fresh red berry fruits with herbs, toasty oak, and spices under tow. A feminine expression of Pinot Noir that holds considerable charm.

2008 Anne Amie Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $35, screw cap. Release date is Novermber 2010. Sourced from 10 vineyards including 22% estate fruit. Willakenzie, Laurelwood and Jory soils. Clones Pommard 4, Dijon 114, 115, 667, 777 and 828. Aged 10 months in 26% new, 20% 1 year and 54% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Fresh aromas of dark red berries and a hint of clove. Tasty potpourri of cherries, strawberries and raspberries with a tangy citrus note adding a spring to the pleasing finish. Relatively straightforward but drinks really well. An outstanding Willamette Valley blend. Very good.

2009 Big Table Farm Laughing Pig Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé

14.1% alc., 100 cases, $22. Sourced from Cattrall Vineyard which is the oldest certified organic vineyard in Oregon. Barrel fermented to dryness, complete MLF and aged sur lies until the day before bottling. Attractive tall Alsatian bottle. · Light rose color. Pleasing aromas of cherries, strawberries, prickly pear and rose garden. Moderately rich flavors of red cherries and strawberries with an underpinning of minerality and a tangerine peel note on the bright finish. This is a friendly wine that will please any rosé fan. Very good.

The following five wines represent my first experience with Coeur de Terre Vineyard wines. Established in 1998 by Scott and Lisa Neal, the vineyard is located in the Coast Range foothills of the McMinnville appellation west of the town of McMinnville, Oregon. Coeur de Terre, which is French for “Heart of the Earth,” was inspired by a large heart-shaped rock found during the establishment of the estate vineyard. The 50 acre property includes a winery and 17 acres planted primarily to Pinot Noir in soils of both sedimentary and volcanic origins. The owners planted the vineyard themselves and it has been farmed using organic and sustainable methods since its inception. Over 80,000 vines were hand grafted at the estate’s nursery and been the parent material for nearly all the vineyard. Planting of the vineyard was conducted from 1999 to 2007 with multiple Pinot Noir clones including Dijon 115, 667 and 777, Pommard, Wädenswil, and field blend selections. Coeur de Terre produces Pinot Noir (an Oregon Pinot Noir, Estate Pinot Noir and four block designated Pinot Noirs), Pinot Gris, Riesling and Rosé. Pinot Noir winemaking is traditional using small open top fermentors, employing a cold soak when appropriate, using manual punch downs, and using both indigenous and cultured yeast strains. The wines are racked directly to barrel with free run kept separate from press fractions. Aging is carried out for 10 to 18 months in French oak barrels. A gravity flow system is employed in the winery. The Coeur de Terre Pinot Noirs are impressive in that one can taste McMinnville terroir in these wines. I did not taste the 2008 block designated Pinot Noirs as they have not been included with the other 2010 spring releases. For more information, visit www.cdtvineyard.com. The winery is open by appointment (503-472-3976, extension 2).

2009 Coeur de Terre McMinnville Willamette Valley Rosé Rustique

13.3% alc., pH 3.45, $17. Released May 1, 2010. A blend of Pinot Noir from Hyland Vineyard (Coury clone), Syrah from Coeur de Terre Estate Vineyard, and Riesling from Hyland Vineyard. Pinot Noir grapes were de-stemmed and pressed off the skins after 3 days, Syrah grapes were de-stemmed and sat on the skins for 1 day. A small amount of juice was saigneed from the Syrah and added to the pressed off Pinot Noir. Fermented in stainless fermentors using 3 yeast strains. Cold stabilized and sterile filtered before bottling. · Demure aromas of strawberries, taffy, melon and a touch of lavender. Slightly confected red strawberry core with hints of orange peel, cranberry and honeydew melon. Light and refreshing. Decent.

2009 Coeur de Terre Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

12.7% alc., pH 3.15, 248 cases, $17. Released May 1, 2009. Sourced from the Coleman Vineyard in the McMinnville AVA. De-stemmed and pressed off immediately. 20% was racked to neutral oak puncheon and 80% to stainless tank. Residual sugar 10g/L. Cold stabilized and sterile filtered before bottling. · Very pale yellow color in the glass. A pleasing potpourri of tropical fruits and white peaches with notes of cut grass and lemon curd. Easygoing with a crisp finish. A fine example of this style. Good.

2008 Coeur de Terre Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.72, 473 cases, $20. Released May 1, 2010. Estate grown and bottled. The wine is crafted from fruit from younger vines combined with more mature fruit from Renelle’s Block for structure and balance. Cold soak for 3 days, free run and press sent to barrel, indigenous and commercial yeast fermentation, aged 11 months in 30% new, 60% seasoned and 10% neutral French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Enticing aromas of earth-kissed dark stone fruits with notes of oak toast, anise and mint in the background. Plum and cherry cola are the flavor theme but it is the earthiness that is most striking. One can taste the soil in this wine. Easy drinking with reigned in dry tannins and a refreshing finish. Good.

2008 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.74, $34. Released May 1, 2010. Estate grown fruit only including a combination of younger vines and more mature fruit. Cold soak for 3 days, free run and press sent directly to barrel, fermentation with indigenous and commercial yeasts, racking if necessary, aged 14 months in 30% new, 60% seasoned and 10% neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Shy but charming perfume of darker fruits with toasty oak to the front. Similar to the Oregon bottling but more refined with softer tannins. Black cherry and blackberry flavors with underpinnings of earthy loam, minerals, tobacco and toasty oak. Nicely crafted and very promising, but needs time like so many 2008 Oregon Pinot Noirs. Good (+).

2007 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $40. 100% de-stemmed, vinified at the four-level gravity flow winery. Aged in approximately 20% new French oak barrels which are custom made in Burgundy. 95% estate fruit. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy dark red cherry and berry aromas with hints of spice and oak. Crisp and juicy dark red cherry and raspberry melange with an underpinning of savory herbs and spices. Lacking in nuances but drinking nicely. An impressive effort from a challenging Oregon vintage. This is a winery you can rely on for consistency. Very good

2008 Evening Land Vineyards Oregon Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $25. Mostly Seven Springs Vineyard fruit. Consulting winemaker if Frenchman Dominque Lafon. · Moderately intense reddish-purple color in the glass. Dark fruits including plums and ollaliberries are featured on the nose with aromatic hints of spice, balsam and sawdust. Well-endowed with caressing fruit which persists on the finish. A California styled wine without all the alcohol. Good.

2008 Fox Farm Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., 292 cases, $28, screw cap. · Attractive perfume of red fruits, spice, and underbrush with a hint of alcohol. Medium-weighted dried cherry and cranberry flavored core with a rush of tart cherries at the finish. Hi-strung style with bright acidity, minimal tannins and a pleasingly smooth mouth feel. Good.

2007 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $40. French vigneron Alexandrine Roy comes from Gevrey- Chambertain to craft this wine at Phelps Creek Vineyards in Hood River, Oregon. · Initially the nose and flavors are dominated by oak-derived notes of toast, dark caramel, toasted marshmallow, dark chocolate and toast. There is a beautiful and ripe deep red fruit core underlying the oak blanket. Tasted later in the day from a bottle opened in the morning, the wine had changed dramatically with the oak influence receding and charming fruit aromas and flavors rising to the forefront. This wine will definitely benefit from cellaring to allow further integration of the oak. If you open a bottle now, decant it for several hours before drinking. Very good.

2008 Plowbuster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $21. Second label from Carabella Vineyard, a 49-acre site on the southeastern side of Parrett Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Winemaker Mike Hallock makes wines exclusively from Carabella Vineyard fruit. 27 acres are planted to five Pinot Noir clones in Nekia and Jory soils. The name, Plowbuster, gets its name from the dry farming method Hallock and his team use. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely composed aromatic profile of slightly confected cherries and strawberries with notes of spice and savory oak. Tasty cherry core with a comforting soft texture and gossamer tannins. This wine exudes finesse and charm. High quaff-ability quotient. Still drinking fine the next day from a previous opened and re-corked bottle. Good (+).

2008 Scott Paul D122 Ribbon Ridge Vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $30, screw cap. D122 is the narrow road that winds through grand cru vineyards of Burgundy’s Cote de Nuits. Sourced from Pommard and Dijon clones planted in 2001. · Highly perfumed with scents of strawberries, rose hip, spice, spring bouquet and underbrush. Light and demure featuring flavors of red cherries and raspberries, cherry soda and edible flowers. A highly floral and intensely perfumed wine that is simply composed. Decent.

2008 Scott Paul Audrey Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $65, screw cap. A barrel selection of the finest of the vintage sourced from Maresh Vineyard which was originally planted in 1970. · This wine is currently holding back and needs a year or two of cellaring. Enticing aromas of wild berries, cherry tart and baking spices. Tasty core of cherry and berry fruit, discreetly rich, with a loamy underpinning. The mouth feel is satiny and the generous finish is lengthy and satisfying. The pedigree of the fruit is evident even at this reluctant stage. Very good.

2007 Sineann Wyeast Vineyard Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $35, Vino-Seal glass closure. From a vineyard in the Hood River Valley farmed by Dick and Christie Reed. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Patience is required to fully enjoy this wine. I found it grows on you as it gets significantly better over time in the glass. Appealing aromas of dark red cherries and berries with a hint of toasty oak. Delicious essence of fresh cherries and berries with a hint of soy and cherry skins. Beautifully balanced with bright acidity on the showy finish which sails along. This wine clearly shows the promising potential for Pinot Noir in the Hood River region of Oregon.

2008 Sineann Schindler Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $35. Vino-Seal glass closure. This vineyard is farmed by Robert and Janet Schindler and is located northwest of Salem. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Reserved aromas of dark stone fruits with a sidecar of smoky oak. Soft in the mouth with caressing tannins, and a black cherry fruit core that is moderately rich and perfectly ripe. Still somewhat brooding and linear at this stage. This wine underwent an amazing transformation with much more fruit expression and charm when tasted the following day from a previous opened and re-corked bottle. Cellar or decant if you drink now. Very good.

2008 Sineann McGinlay’s Vineyard Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $30. Sourced from one of the few hillside sites in Marlborough. Produced and bottled in New Zealand. · Sexy perfume of red fruits and baking spices. Tasty red berry core with impressive mid palate intensity and mouth coating persistence. Notes of herbs and seasoned oak in the background add interest. Well-structured for the long haul. Better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good (+).

Vino-Seal

This glass and polymer wine bottle closure is made by Alcoa and known in Europe as Vino- Lok. It consists of an attractive looking decanter glass stopper with a flexible and inert o-ring around its base to provide a sterile seal. The glass stopper is held in place by a tin capsule and neck sleeve (the Vino-Lok uses an aluminum cover cap). Oxygen transmission is said to be similar to a tin-lined screw cap. A big advantage of this type of closure is that the risk of cork taint is zero. The closure is also recyclable. The main disadvantage is the added cost over cork and the necessity for special bottling equipment to insert it.

The glass closure has become popular in Germany, Austria and Italy, and in Europe over 350 wineries currently use it. In 2006, Napa Valley's Whitehall Lane was the first winery to seal its bottles of select premium wines with the Vino-Seal closure. Calera is currently the biggest United States customer of Vino-Seal glass closures which are used on the Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir and Mt. Harlan Cuvée Pinot Noir.

I love the aesthetic of this closure. Vino-Seal is safe to use, easy to open with a twist, and can be used to quickly reseal a bottle over and over. Wine can be aged standing up as well.

The following wines represent my first experience with Tyee Wine Cellars, located in Corvallis, Oregon on the Buchanan Family Century Farm founded over 120 years ago. Tyee is an early northwest word meaning “chief” and “best.” The oldest vines at Tyee Wine Cellars were planted in the Estate Vineyard in 1974, with additional plantings throughout the 1980s. These vines, which include Pinot Noir are self-rooted and make up more than half of the 10-acre Estate Vineyard. In 2000, 1 acre of Dijon 115, 1 acre of Dijon 777 and 1 acre of Pommard clones were planted on phylloxera-resistant rootstock. The winemaker and vineyard manager is Merrilee Buchanan Benson, who grew up at Tyee Wine Cellars on the Buchanan Family Century Farm. She became winemaker starting with the 2006 vintage. For tasting room hours, visit www.tyeewine.com.

2007 Tyee Wine Cellars Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $19.99. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Initial bright aromas of cherries, red berries and soy sauce fading some in the glass with a minty, green note emerging. Lighter-weighted red and black fruits with a hint of oak and a subtle lift of citrus peel on the finish. Soft in the mouth with reigned-in tannins. Decent.

2006 Tyee Wine Cellars Estate Barrel Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $29.99. · Moderately light in color in the glass. Aromas of ripe dark fruits, oak toast and leather. Juicy red cherry and berry fruits which are vivid and focused wrapped in moderately firm tannins. Nicely crafted with a silky mouth feel and admirable persistence on the back end. Very good.

2007 Tyee Wine Cellars Estate Barrel Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $29.99. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy, but appealing scents of cherry and berry jam with hints of oak and spice. Decent red berry core with moderate ripe tannins and some persistence on the elegant finish. A solid wine. Good.

2008 WildAire Cellars Timothy Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $20. Proprietor and winemaker Matt Driscoll crafts his wines at Illahe Vineyards in the Polk County Hills between Dallas and Monmouth. He sources grapes from several AVAs including Chehalem Mountains, McMinnville and the Rogue Valley. Matt and his wife Jean have a tasting room in Carlton. The name, WildAire, is from a family estate in Roanoke, Virginia. The name was found while hiking the Appalachian Trail carved into a granite fireplace mantle in a Ranger Station. The wine is dedicated to Matt’s father who loved to hike. · Vivid and nuanced nose sporting aromas of spiced dark stone fruits, pine pitch, exotic woods and menthol. Generous core of plum, dried cherry and cranberry fruit with notes of pine sap and grass. Grainy dry tannins lend a velvety texture to the wine. Picks up aromatic and flavor intensity and interest in the glass over time. Good (+).

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