PinotFile: 11.23 May 12, 2018
- Oregon Pinot Noir is Hot!
- Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
- Diversity of Styles Popularize Pinot Noir Rosé
- Oregon “Tweener” Style Chardonnay Rising
- Pinot Briefs
- Proper Tasting and Critiquing Pinot Noir Demands Patience
Oregon Pinot Noir is Hot!
Consumers and sommeliers are infatuated with Oregon Pinot Noir! Long considered a world-class wine region,
but catching on even more with the wine cognoscenti, Oregon has seen unprecedented growth of late and now
has more than 1,000 vineyards, more than 700 wineries, and grows 72 grape varieties.
Full Glass Research released the newest economic impact figures in March 2018. The figures show all
economic activity in Oregon related directly or indirectly to wine is $5.61 billion, compared to $3.35 billion just
three years ago, an increase of 67% in statewide impact. The number of wine-related and induced jobs in
Oregon totaled 29,738, up from 17,099 in 2013, representing a 74% increase. Wine sales grew 17% and
Oregon is a major growth leader, percentage wise ahead of all other major growing states and countries around
Compared to the 2013 data, wine grape acreage increased 27%, and tons crushed by 42%. Oregon wineries
bottled over 3 million 9L cases of wine and had revenues of over $529 million in 2016 (compared to $363
million in 2013) from the sale of packaged wine. Wine exported outside of Oregon increased from 127 million to
196 million, an increase of 53%.
Consumers pay on average $39 a bottle for Oregon wine purchased through direct sales according to Ship
Compliant data. Oregon wines sell well even though they are priced a little higher on average than wines from
other US regions. Wines sold Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) increased 45% from 197 million to 286 million since
2013. Oregon wineries sold 23% of their bottled wine DtC. Case sales for Oregon wineries by destination is
showing in the graph below. Don Hagge of VIDON Vineyard, (featured in this issue), created VinAlliance, an
association of consumers and wineries for DtC sales with the benefits of traditional wine clubs. The program is
in development. Visit www.shopvinalliance.com.
The star in Oregon is Pinot Noir where demand continues to grow at an average of 8% a year since 2013,
compared to an average of 2% for the wine market as a whole. Rising quality of Oregon Chardonnay and the
emergence of Southern Oregon and the Columbia Gorge are also increasing Oregon’s visibility in the market.
Since the 2013 report, growth and investment in the Oregon wine industry has expanded with a net increase of
6,480 planted acres, and the number of wineries increased by at least 120. Still, 85% of Oregon wineries
produce less than 5,000 cases.
Social media references to Oregon wine are more complimentary compared to references to the wine industry
in general. Higher-quality Oregon wine continues to show increasing sales. Speakers at this year’s Oregon
Wine Symposium emphasized that Oregon should not become complacent and should concentrate on effective
national marketing and continue to focus on tourism. Tasting room sales have fallen in other popular US wine
region destinations but has held up so far in Oregon despite the fact that they are at the mercy of the terrible,
rainy weather in in Willamette Valley in the winter.
In other Oregon news, Oregon is in the process of obtaining approval for more sub-appellations within the
Willamette Valley AVA, including the proposed Van Duzer Corridor, Tualatin Hills, Mount Pisgah and
Lauralwood AVAs. A move is afoot, however, to preserve the value of the more well-known Willamette Valley
name, and vintners are encouraged to include Willamette Valley as well as the sub-AVA of origin for each wine.
David Adelsheim is planning to submit a truth in labeling law to the Oregon legislature that will require any
Pinot Noir or Chardonnay bearing the Willamette Valley designation be made 100% with grapes from the AVA.
According to a report from the North Bay Business Journal published online on April 26, 2018, at
wine, there are still thousands of acres of plantable land in the Willamette Valley AVA. Some of the
smaller sub-AVAs, such as the Dundee Hills, are beginning to fill up, but there is still a number of acres left in
the Chehalem Mountains, Yamhill-Carlton and Eola-Amity Hills AVAs. There are thousands of acres available in
Folk County. A significant number of smaller vineyards with older vines are self-footed and either infected with
phylloxera or at risk for phylloxera. There are few restrictions on new vineyard development, and it is fairly easy
to get a permit for a winery and a tasting room on a property.
Read more in the Oregon Wine Press: www.oregonwinepress.com/on-the-up-and-up.
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
“I think if you asked most people what’s the next best place outside of Burgundy
that makes Pinot Noir, hopefully, it’s the Willamette Valley.”
Steve Doerner, winemaker, Cristom Vineyards
“The most exciting wine area in the USA right now? I say it’s Oregon.”
Eric Asimov, New York Times
Alloro Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley
This 79-acre property in the Chehalem Mountains has 28 acres of vines planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Pinot Noir clones are 777, 667, 114, 115, Wädenswil and Pommard planted in Laurelwood series soil. The
winery is specifically designed for vinifying Pinot Noir. Veteran winemaker Tom Fitzpatrick crafts three estate
Pinot Noirs named Estate, Justina and Riservata. Photo below is of Tom (left) and owner David Nemarnik.
Second photo shows an overview of the beautiful estate.
The tasting room at the winery is open Thursday-Monday afternoons. Visit www.allorovineyard.com.
2015 Alloro Vineyard Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.65, TA
0.57, 1,600 cases, $40. Estate grown, produced and bottled. 46% Pommard, 35% 777, 19% 114. 100% destemmed,
4 to 6-day cold soak, native fermentation, native malolactic fermentation, aged 11 months in French
oak barrels, 23% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Vigorous aromas of black cherry, rose petal and
earthy flora. Generous surge of cherry fruit really alerts the palate. Very fresh and juicy in a mid weight style,
with terrific balance and some finishing intent.
2015 Alloro Vineyard Estate ‘Riservata’ Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.57, 300 cases, $50. A 12 barrel selection blend to capture additional body,
weight, texture and complexity. This wine represents the best marriage of all the diverse
characteristics contributed by each of the individual vineyard blocks. Truly, a reserve wine. 32%
Pommard, 46% 777 and 22% 114. 100% de-stemmed, 4 to 6-day cold soak, native primary and
malolactic fermentations, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 46% new.
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. The nose is somewhat brooding but very genial, with aromas of dark cherry,
raspberry and complimentary oak. More of everything in this wine, including concentration, intensity, tannin and
finish. Makes a bold statement, yet easy to cozy up to. Mid-weight plus in style, with flavors of black raspberry,
blackberry, blueberry and spice. Silky in the mouth with a deft integration of oak. Still a bit aloof but the
potential is obvious. Considerably more giving when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle. A stunning wine with swagger, depth and dimension.
2015 Alloro Vineyard Estate ‘Justina’ Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.57, 150 cases, $85. A special barrel select blend, crafted to show off the
very best of the vintage. The wine is named after winery owner David Nemarnik’s daughter. 81%
777, 19% 114. 100% de-stemmed, 4 to 6-day cold soak, native primary and malolactiic fermentation,
aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 80% new.
This beauty is the polar opposite of the Riservata.
More pastel in color with a moderately light garnet tone. Soaring aromas of cherry, raspberry, spice,
balsam and nuttiness, becoming more demonstrative over time in the glass. More red-fruited in a
mid weight plus, seductively elegant style that literally dances across the palate. The silk pajama texture
creates the impression of grace and splendor, while the expansive finish resonates lip-smacking spicy
goodness. There are notable tannins in the background, most certainly from the high percentage of new oak,
but these tannins showed more amelioration when the wine was tasted the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle. This wine went from great to exceptional over night.
Analemma Wines, Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Analemma co-farms the Oak Ridge Vineyard, planted in 1984, with owners Thomas and Marlene Woodward.
The vineyard is organically certified and dry-farmed. The vineyard sits in close proximity to Atavius Vineyard,
another source for Analemma Pinot Noir. A 100% whole cluster Atavius Vineyard Pinot Noir will be reviewed
later when a large number of 100% whole cluster Pinot Noirs will be tasted.
Owner Steven Thompson has a vast experience in winemaking including Cayuse Vineyards in Walla Walla,
Washington, and New Zealand’s Craggy Range and Seresin Estate.
The winery’s Cellar Door is open Friday-Sunday from April 1 to October 31. Visit www.analemmawines.com.
2014 Analemma Oak Ridge Vineyard Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 300 cases, $32. Organic
grapes were fermented with a majority of whole cluster in stainless steel open-top tanks. The wine was aged
on its lees for 16 months in neutral barriques and concrete.
Light ruby red color in the glass. A lighter-weighted
offering, featuring aromas and flavors of red cherry, cranberry, wintergreen and spice infused with herbaceous
thread that carry over in a short finish. A delicate tannic backbone makes for easy drinking.
2015 Analemma Oak Ridge Vineyard Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.5% Alc., 350 cases, $32.
Organic grapes were fermented with a majority of whole cluster in stainless steel open-top tanks.
The wine was aged on its lees for 16 months in neutral barriques and concrete.
Light ruby red color
in the glass. Hi-tone cherry aroma with a woody riff. Engaging red cherry and red berry fruits in a
mid weight style that seduces with a silken mouth feel. Gossamer tannins and redeeming balance,
finishing modestly but pleasingly.
Big Table Farm, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley
The 2016 Pinot Noir wines reviewed here are part of the winery’s spring release.
Winemaker Brian Marcy reported that the 2016 vintage was warm like the preceding two vintages with
structures similar to the 2014s and the juiciness of the 2015s to balance.
The wonderful art on the labels is drawn by Brian's spouse, Claire Carver, and is unique to each vintage. The
labels are made by hand using a letterpress and thick printmaking paper. After each label is applied by hand,
each bottle is carefully wrapped in tissue to preserve the letterpress paper’s texture and beauty. There is a
product code on the bottom of each bottle so you don’t have to unwrap them to identify the wines.
Big Table Farm has become extremely popular for its outstanding wines and working farm. Tasting is by
appointment only. Visit www.bigtablefarm.com. Shipping is now free with case purchases.
2016 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 1,835 cases, $45. Released March 5, 2018. A
blend of grapes from eight vineyards making the wine a good representation of the Willamette Valley. This wine
is more affordable because a lot more of it is made, but it receives the same care and handling s the rest of the
lineup of wines. A drawing by Grace of Buttercup, an American Guinea Hog, graces the label. Bottled unfined
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely fragrance of red cherry, red berry, rose petal and
sous-bois. Darker fruited on the palate with giving flavors of purple grape and blueberry. Soft and found in the
mouth with a conforming texture and some finishing length. A hint of grapes from Pelos Sandberg Vineyard
shows up. Beautifully composed, although not extremely complex. This wine is liable to be sold out by the time
you read this review as it is very popular among “bigtablers.”
2016 Big Table Farm Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
285 cases, $62. Released March 5, 2018. Clare’s drawing of vineyard owner Don Sandberg’s clippers graces
the label. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose offers a plethora of
aromas including spiced boysenberry, burnt tobacco, compost , barnyard, and turned earth. Discreetly
concentrated flavors of purple and blackberry with a hint of peppery spices and the guaiacol note that is typical
of this vineyard. Noticeably more enchanting when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle, when the fruit flavors were more intense and the wine was more outgoing.
Broadley Vineyards, Willamette Valley
Distinctive, consistently top-notch Pinot Noir from the southern Willamette Valley. Initial planting of the estate
vineyard began in 1981 and the first wines were released from the 1986 vintage. Second generation, Morgan
and wife Jessica Broadley run the winery, with Morgan crafting the wines. Most of the Pinot Noir wines are from
the estate vineyard. Uniquely, large wooden fermenters are used giving a richer and deeper complexity to the
wines. Whole cluster is also used in fermentation when the vintage dictates. Visit www.broadleyvineyards.com.
2016 Broadley Vineyards Open Claim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 50 cases,
$35. 100% Pommard clone. Fermented in small open-top French oak wood fermenter for 14-21
days. Aged 12 months in neutral French oak barrels.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass.
Aromas of Marionberry, black cherry, spice, dried herbs and barrique. Light to mid weight and
quite sleek and demurely satisfying, with flavors of purple berry and black cherry fruit. Welcoming
and easy going now with minimal tannins.
2016 Broadley Vineyards Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc. $35. Composed of a
variety of blocks containing newer and older vines.
Nicely scented with aromas of dark
strawberry, blueberry, plum and spice. Gentle in the mouth with a light to mid weight core of red
and purple berries with a touch of spice, a little smokiness, and a savory herbal thread. Forward
drinking, with exquisite balance . This elegant wine draws you in with its charm.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Willamette Valley
This winery is celebrating 40 years since its founding in 1978 by Dr. Robert and Corrine Gross. Initially, grapes
were sold to other wineries, but in 1987, Dr. Gross, a homeopathic doctor, started his own label from his estate
vineyards. The winery was an early adaptor of holistic agriculture including organic and biodynamic farming
practices by the early 1990s. They expanded to four vineyards on 125 acres. Every wine they make is made
from Biodynamic grapes, with Demeter® certification since1999. In 2002, Cooper Mountain became the first
winery in the US to gain label approval for a no-sulfite-added wine, and, in 2010, achieved carbon neutrality.
The winemaker since 2004 has been Gilles de Domingo and the farm manager is Gerry Sanchez who has
tended the vines on Cooper Mountain for more than two decades. Dr. Gross’s daughter, Barbara, is the
operations manager. Varieties grown include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer,
Gamay Noir and Tocai Freiulano.
Total production is 20,000 cases annually. There are three tiers of organic and biodynamic wines. The Five
Elements tier are vineyard designates and special selections that are produced from the most coveted barrels
from the winery’s most prized sites. The Cooper Mountain Estate tier is a collection of moderately priced wines
that are ideal aperitifs or can pair nicely with foods. Cooper Hill is the winery’s second label.
In 1987, the owners converted their horse barn into the original winery. They soon outgrew that winery and built
the current winery next door, opening the barn into a tasting room in Beaverton, just 10 miles from downtown
Portland. The tasting room is open daily. Visit www.coopermountainwine.com.
Crafting a Sulfite-Free Wine
The Cooper Mountain Vineyards “Life” Pinot Noir has no added SO2 during vinification, so the winemaker focuses on
enhancing some type of phenols considered strong antioxidants. The goal is to replace the SO2 antioxidant role with naturally
occurring phenols, according to winemaker Gilles de Domingo.
The first step in making the wine begins in the vineyard. Two designated blocks are used that differ from the typical VSP
canopy management in that leaves are pulled on both sides of the canopy at the bloom stage. This is meant to “teach” the
berries to receive the sun at an early development stage. The Brix will increase slower than usual and the phenols will
develop differently by enzymatic processes. Because of the combination of a minimum foliar surface and early exposure to
sun, the vines will stress enough to develop an increased amount of phenols and polyphenols.
The second step occurs at the crush pad. The grapes are 100% de-stemmed because the phenols contained in the stems
will have the undesirable effect of precipitating desirable phenols.
Primary fermentation occurs naturally by spontaneous fermentation in 1.5-ton open-top fermenters. The punch down regime
is quite soft.
Aging in barrels is a must, The gallic acid contained in oak will bind with the increased polyphenols forming a stable tannin
SO2 has a strong bleaching effect on phenols and is the reason many Pinot Noir wines tend to be lighter in color. A loss of
20% in color depth is common in practice. The result is that “Life” Pinot Noir has a deep color like Syrah.
2016 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Life Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $40. No
sulfites added (may contain naturally-occurring sulfites). Certified organic and biodynamic.
Johnson School and Meadowlark vineyards. Native fermentation. Aged 8 months in French oak
barrels, 40% 2-year-old, 60% neutral. Unfined.
Very dark garnet color in the glass. Demure
aromas of blackberry, blueberry-pomegranate and barrique. The fruit fades rather quickly in the
glass over time. Full-bodied and ultra-rich, with a hedonistic core of purple and black fruits along
with a velvety mouth feel. Fruit-driven and Syrah-like, yet tannins and acidity are in
complimentary balance with the fruit load. A uniquely-crafted style, that is richly concentrated, but still retains
2015 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $25. Made with
Demeter® Certified Biodynamic® grapes.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. An appealing
appellation wine from an outstanding vintage, with aromas of blackest cherry, underbrush and
teasing oak, leading to mid weight flavors of black cherry and blackberry complimented with a deft
touch of oak. Juicy and very agreeable now, yet there is enough tannin to suggest decanting or a
little more time in the bottle.
2014 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Mountain Terroir Meadowlark Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$50. Certified Biodynamic® by Demeter®. Vineyard Series. Meadowlark Vineyard planted in 1982 in
Willakenzie soil. Native fermentation. Aged 10 months in oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass.
Charming aromas of blackberry, blueberry, sandy loam and toasty oak entice. Very satisfying in the mouth, with
a polished texture, and a mid weight core of boysenberry and black raspberry fruit wrapped in gentle tannins. A
classy wine with impeccable balance, drinking perfectly now.
de Lancellotti Family Vineyards, McMinnville, Willamette Valley
De Lancellotti wines are produced from distinguished vineyards in Oregon and produced in a shared
winemaking facility in McMinnville, under the guidance of winemaking consultant Robert Brittan.
Tasting is available by advanced appointment only December-April, with an opening to the public beginning in
April. Three tasting experiences are offered. Visit www.delancellottifamilyvineyards.com for details and location
of tasting room.
2016 de Lancellotti Famiglia Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 225 cases,
$40. A reserve blend from the winery’s biodynamically farmed home vineyard planted to clones ”828,”
Pommard, 777 and 115. Only the best barrels are selected and blended.
Moderately light garnet color in the
glass. Intoxicating nose with considerable nuance, offering aromas of cherry, boysenberry, nutty oak, dark rose
petal and chocolate basil. Light to mid weight in extract, with vibrant flavors of cherry, strawberry and spice. A
modicum of tannins add interest to the silken texture, with the wine finishing dry and unpretentious.
2016 de Lancellotti Onelia Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 60 cases, $60. A
special limited bottling named after owner Paul de Lancellotti’s Italian grandmother. The wine is sourced from
the winery’s biodynamically farmed home vineyard.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose reveals
scents of purple grape, cherry, earthy flora, spice and vanilla. The mid weight plus essence of crunchy black
cherry and black raspberry fruit is quite satisfying. Juicy, with an earthy, woodsy tone, featuring balanced
tannins and a thread of oak in the background. The finish is very good in length but not exceptional. More
expressive when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2016 de Lancellotti Lachini Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 175
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Restrained, but pleasant aromas of cherry and nutty oak.
Silky, sleek and refined in the mouth with a mid weight core of red cherry and berry and blueberry flavors.
Nicely composed, with exceptional vibrancy and a quenching finish. Unchanged when tasted the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
ÉLEVÉE Winegrowers, Dundee, Willamette Valley
At the heart of Élevée is the concept of “winegrower,” one part “winemaker” and one part “grower.” The two are
inextricably linked. Winegrower and proprietor Tom Fitzpatrick, UC Davis educated, after years of
professionally growing and crafting wines for others in Burgundy, Napa Valley, New Zealand and Oregon, he
had the opportunity to bring his “winegrower” concept to life. While the winemaker for Alloro Vineyard (where
he remains today), Archery Summit’s Gary Andrus decided to sell a high-density, microsite in the Dundee Hills
that he had planted in 1998. Tom and his spouse France purchased it in 2008 and named it Élevée Vineyard.
In 2016, he began directing the farming on two additional and diverse sites in the Chehalem Mountains and
Eola-Amity Hills. Farmed by him, he is able to craft wines that express the personality of each site and
showcase the diversity of Willamette Valley terroir.
2015 Élevée Winegrowers Élevée Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 300
cases, $48. Vineyard is located on a south-facing slope at 540 feet. Volcanic Jory series soil, vines densely
planted. 100% de-stemmed, native fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 38% new.
garnet color in the glass. Up-front aromas of cherry and spice pick up power over time in the glass. Flavors of
strawberry, ripe cherry and raspberry, in a discretely concentrated style with a silken mouth feel and the right
touch of oak. A bit of grippy tannin shows up on the finish, but this should be more accommodating with more
time in the bottle. This wine is quintessential Dundee Hills in character and is quite affable now.
Lenné Estate, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley
Estate grown wines from a 15-acre steep, south-facing sloped vineyard located just east of the town of Yamhill
first planted beginning in 2001. Shallow soils, dense spacing and a diverse clonal mix consisting of Pommard
and Dijon 115, 114, 777 and 667. The vineyard is dry farmed and sustainably managed.
Owner Steve Lutz established Lenné Estate in 2002 and since has produced a stellar series of Pinot Noir
wines that I consider among the best from the Yamhill-Carlton sub-appellation. The Lenné Estate Vineyard is
managed and farmed by Steve and the wines are produced by Steve at Owen Roe with the help of their crew.
The 2015 vintage wines are riper (with higher alcohols), as well as more concentration and tannin. and will
need more time in bottle to ameliorate the hardy fruit tannins. The wines reflect the vintage that mirrored the
2014 vintage with a record-breaking number of over 90 degree days in July and August. The result was small,
thick-skinned berries and the earliest harvest ever at Lenné Estate.
The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visit www.lennerestate.com.
The following wines will be released May 19.
2015 Lenné Estate Le Nez Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.81, TA o.59326 cases, $30.
The winery’s “infant,” early drinking wine that represents the entire vineyard and all five clones. “Le
Nez” is French for “The Nose,” and is a reference to Karen Lutz’s late father Lenny, who also was
the inspiration for the name, Lenné Estate. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, aged 11 months in
French oak barrels.
Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Deep aromas of cherry, rose, spice,
mocha and pleasant oak. Light to mid weight in style, with easily approachable, robust flavors of
black cherry and boysenberry framed by matched tannins and finishing with a juicy cut of acidity.
The lightest, freshest and most forward wine in the 2015 Lenné lineup, but not a demure wine.
2015 Lenné Estate Eleanor’s 114 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.59, 75
cases, $55. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak prior to inoculation of proprietary yeast, and aged 11 months
in French oak barrels, 66% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The most aromatic wine in the
2015 Lenné lineup, with intoxicating aromas of black raspberry, cola exotic spices and caramel. Mid weight
plus in style, with hearty, masculine flavors of black raspberry and blackberry with a background hint of smoke
and vanilla, and a rustic earthiness. Intensely sappy, yet vibrant with good freshness. Substantial tannins and
frisky oak at this early stage. Much better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle when the aromatics made my knees go weak, and the tannins had moderated. Rare to find a
Dijon 114 single clone bottling which makes this wine all the more intriguing.
2015 Lenné Estate Karen’s Pommard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 100 cases, $55.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy upon opening, but very giving when tasted the following day
from an opened bottle with aromas of black cherry, spice and fertile earth. The attack of mid weight black
cherry fruit is focused and serious with remarkable intensity. An underlying earthiness adds interest. Acidity is
well-mannered, but the tannins are muscular and a bit daunting initially. This is the most backward wine in the
lineup and will benefit from a couple years in the cellar to ameliorate the fruit tannins. That said, it is hard to
ignore the glorious fruit now, especially if you decant.
2015 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 100 cases, $55.
dark garnet color in the glass. Rather exotic nose featuring black cherry and blackberry fruits, spice, and toasty
oak. Mid weight plus in concentration, offering a luscious array of ripe purple and black berry flavors.
Somewhat burly, with husky tannins, yet the wine glides across the palate. Still closed in and out of sorts with
prominent oak on the sideline and muscular tannins on the finish. Much better when tasted the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with more integration of oak and tannin and more expressive
fruit. This one should be cellared for a couple of years for full enjoyment.
2015 Lenné Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.59, 376 cases,
$38. A barrel selection of the finest wine from the estate vineyard. Primarily Pommard and clone 114, with
balance made up of 777, 115 and 667. De-stemmed, 5-day cold soak prior to inoculation, aged 11 months in
French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy perfume of black cherry, dark red
berry and oak barrel. Middleweight flavors of purple and black fruits with an herbal thread. Sleek in texture with
welcome balance, offering a giving purple-fruit finish of noticeable length. Unchanged when tasted the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2015 Lenné Estate cinq élus Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $80. This wine is
made only in great vintages. The name, cinq élus means “five chosen,” reflecting that this wine is a
blend of the best barrels from all five clones grown at the estate vineyard.
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of ripe strawberry and Bing cherry with a hint of mocha. Clearly a
step up in class, with a mid weight core of delicious purple and black fruits backed by polished
tannins. Great energy, vibrancy, length and intensity. Didn’t taste it the next day because my
neighbors and I finished it off the same day I opened it.
Lundeen Wines, McMinnville, Willamette Valley
Native Oregonian Michael Lundeen is now the third generation steward of his family’s ancestral home in
Yamhill County, and the latest to tend the vineyards there. Michael has been crafting Willamette Valley Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay since 2006.
The home Poverty Bend Vineyard Estate is farmed naturally and sustainably, with an avoidance of the use of
synthetic chemicals, herbicides and fertilizers.
The Articulate wines are barrel selected blends from vineyards across the Willamette Valley produced in
exceptional vintages. They are meant to show the highest expression of the vintage as well as the Willamette
Valley as a whole.
The Single Vineyard wines are put into the fermenter with some percentage of whole clusters since Michael
believes that great vineyards express their uniqueness not only in fruit but in the complex contents of the entire
grape cluster. The general style of the wines reflect lean esthetic and savory characters.
Tasting is available by appointment at the Walnut City Urban Winery Tasting Room and Wine Bar
(www.walnutcitywineworks.com) in McMinnville where wines are available for purchase. Shop online at
2014 Lundeen Z’ivo Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.63, 100
cases, $40. Released February 1, 2017. 25-acre vineyard originally planted by Dr. John Zelko in the mid
1990s. 40% whole cluster. Un-inoculated fermentation, 24 days on the skins with pump overs and punch
downs. Aged in a mix of one new and the remainder neutral French oak barrels.
Moderately light garnet color
in the glass. Aromas of pie cherry, forest floor and balsam lead the way to a light weighted style that offers
cherry, cranberry and raspberry flavors along with a modicum of oak. A lean wine with energetic acidity, modest
tannins and a tart cherry finish.
2014 Lundeen La Cantera Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH
3.59, 106 cases, $40. Released February 1, 2017.Sourced from a 20-acre vineyard planted by John Davidson
in the late 1980s. Laurelwood soils. 100% de-stemmed, un-inoculared fermentation, 21 days on the skins with
pump overs and punch downs. Aged in a mix of once-filled and neutral French oak barrels.
Light ruby red color
in the glass. Very savory nose with aromas of spice, sous-bois, damp earth and a little barnyard. The mid
weight core of dark red cherry and berry fruits is wrapped in gentle tannins and supported by driven acidity.
Nicely balanced, with a forestry overtone.
2014 Lundeen Winter’s Hill Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.52, 75 cases, $40.
Vineyard originally planted in 1990 by Peter and Emily Gladhart. Those own-rooted Pommard clone vines are
the source for this wine. 100% de-stemmed, un-inoculated fermentation, 20 days on skins with pump overs and
punch downs. Aged in a mix of once-filled and neutral French oak barrels.
Light ruby red color in the glass. Shy
fragrance of cherry and fertile earth. A straight-forward, Light to mid weight styled wine with a juicy core of
black cherry fruit. Matching tannins make for easy approachability, and the wine finishes with some intensity
2014 Lundeen Articulate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.52, 75 cases, $40. Released
February 1, 2017.Articulate wines are the top tier counterpoint to the Single Vineyard wines. 100% destemmed,
un-inoculated, 20-day skin contact, pump overs and punch downs. Aged in a mix of once-filled and
neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Extremely demure aromatics even when
sampled over an extended time in the glass. Much more expressive on the palate, with a mid weight core of
vibrant dark red and purple berry fruits complimented by a riff of oak. Vibrant, with food-compatible acidity and
a silky texture, finishing with some giving fruit.
VIDON Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley
This winery is a family owned estate founded by Don Hagge, a former NASA physicist. Because of his
background, it is not surprising that he has introduced many innovative techniques into his winery. As someone
who designed instrumentation for NASA’s satellites, he brings a formidable intellect and scientific precision to
growing and making wine. One example is the use of VinoSeal glass stoppers using a special bottling line that
Don built. This closure eliminates the risk of cork taint and pre-oxidation.
Founded in 1999, VIDON Vineyard is a 20-acre site just outside Newberg. The winery name is a contraction of
Vicki and Don, pronounced “vee-DOHN.”
The estate vineyard, located three miles north of the Dundee Hills, consists of 12.5 acres of vines planted on a
mix of sedimentary and volcanic soils. The Pinot Noir, clones 777, 115 and Pommard, are planted on Jory soils
with a vine density of 1,555 per acre, with initial plantings dating to 2000 and 2001.
Don is VIDON’s vineyard manager and general manager, and also assists in the winemaking along with David
Bellows. Each August two or three barrels of each clone are selected for an additional seven months of barrel
ageing. These become the Brigita Clone 777, Mirabelle Clone 115 and Hans Clone Pommard bottlings. All the
remaining barrels are blended as the 3-Clones and this wine is about one-third of each clone.
Winemaking employs indigenous primary and malolactic fermentation. Grapes are 100% de-stemmed and
fermented in 1.5-ton tanks. After a 3 to 5-day cold soak and 7 to 10-day native yeast fermentation, the single clone
wines are aged in French oak barrels, 35% new, for 18 months. The wines are sealed with a glass
There is a striking contrast between the two vintages reviewed here. The 2014 vintage wines are riper with
higher alcohols and more extraction. The 2015 vintage wines are more typical of Oregon, with appealing
elegance and refinement, more spice, better harmony, and less extraction but more nuanced.
The tasting room at the winery is open Thursday-Monday, April through November, and other times by
appointment. The tasting room features an argon gas wine preserving and dispensing system designed and
built by Don. Visit www.vidonvineyard.com.
2014 VIDON Vineyard Mirabelle Clone 115 Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very savory nose, with vegetal aromas along side aromas of berry
compote and spice. Dark red berry and black cherry fruits are featured in this mid weight styled wine with an
herbal thread in the background. A whisper of tannin, a polished mouthfeel and a sumptuous raspberry finish.
Considerably more fruit expression when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
2014 VIDON Vineyard Hans Clone Pommard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely perfume of cherry, floral blossom, spice and a hint of bark
and white pepper. Light to mid weight in concentration in an elegant style, with a core of black cherry fruit with
added cola and green dried herb flavors. Sleek in the mouth, with fine-grain tannins. Much more appealing
when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2014 VIDON Vineyard Brigita Clone 777 Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$50. Release May 2018.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very shy and woody nose with demure added
aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, spice and underbrush. Light and elegant in style, with flavors of dark
berries and black cherry. Modest tannins, very modest intensity and a modest finish. Unchanged when tasted
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2014 VIDON Vineyard 3-Clones Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy, but satisfying aromas of saucy purple and black berries with a bit
of seasoned oak. The most sappy and ripest-flavored wine in the 2015 lineup but still discretely rich, with
flavors of purple and black berries.The tannins are well-blended and there is enough underlying acidity to buffet
the fruit load. Some oak plies the background. There is a hint of alcoholic heat on the finish (unusual for
Oregon but not surprising in this very warm vintage).
2015 VIDON Vineyard Mirabelle Clone 115 Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.65, TA 0.55, 46 cases, $50. Release May 2018. 15th vintage from this block. Aged 18 months in French
oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Light ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of cherry and
floral bouquet lead to a lighter weighted wine that exudes elegance. Tasty flavors of cherry, raspberry and
baking spice framed by gossamer tannins. The finish is modest but pleasing, leaving behind aromatic candied
cherry and a compliment of oak.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Hans Clone Pommard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.55, 75 cases, $50. Release May 2018. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Light ruby red color in the glass. Lovely Bing cherry aromas arrive over time in
the glass. Light in weight, but highly flavorful, featuring a core of perfectly ripened cherry fruit. Nicely
composed, with silky tannins, energetic acidity, and noticeable finishing generosity.
2015 VIDON Vineyard Brigita Clone 777 Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.65, TA 0.55, 75 cases, $50. Release May 2018. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled
unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Invigorating aromas of dark red berry mix,
spice and earthy flora. The most concentrated wine in the 2015 lineup, yet discreetly composed, offering mid
weight flavors of dark red and purple fruits with added spice and cola notes. Thoroughly satisfying, with
integrated tannins, a silken mouth feel and admirable aromatic persistence on the finish.
2015 VIDON Vineyard 3-Clones Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH
3.67, TA 0.55, 565 cases, $40, screw cap. Released April 2018. 40% 777, 27% 115, 33% Pommard. Aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light ruby red color in the
glass. The nose leads with aromas of red berries, sandalwood and mushroom. Demure and graceful, with
flavors of red cherry, strawberry and raspberry with a touch of spice. The slightest oak plies the background.
Very open, with soft tannins and an unpretentious finish. My interest in the wine faded a bit when sampled over
time in the glass.
Walter Scott Wines, Salem, Willamette Valley
Partners Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon launched Walter Scott Wines commercially in 2009, and in a relatively
short period of time have become one of the Willamette Valley’s most respected producers of Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay. The key to their success, besides their extensive experience in the wine industry, has been their
ability to source grapes from some of the most established and prestigious vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills
AVA. They have the grapes!
Because of the popularity of Walter Scott wines, a limited number of tastings are offered Monday-Saturday. The
tasting fee is $50 per person, waived with a 3-bottle purchase per person. Alternatively, tasting of Walter Scott
wines is available at Valley Wine Merchants in Newberg. Two open house events are hosted on Memorial Day
and Thanksgiving weekends when you are to join at $15 per person.
Visit www.walterscottwine.com for more information and to purchase wine. The following reviewed 2016
vintage wines are part of the 2018 spring release. They all have their appeal; choosing between them boils
down to “eyne-meeny-miny-moe.”
The photo below shows Erica during pigeage with her daughter and spouse Ken.
2016 Walter Scott Dubay Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 75 cases,
$55. This is a steep, rocky vineyard farmed organically by Ryan Hannaford. Sourced from a 1-acre block
yielding 1.2 tons per acre. Ambient yeast fermentation, 30% whole cluster, aged 15 months in French oak
barrels, 35% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Plenty of nuance on the nose, offering aromas of
black cherry, baking spice, tobacco, earth and forest . Mid weight plus in size, featuring flavors of black
raspberry, blackberry, black grape and a riff of spice. Boldly fruited with a healthy tannic backbone, but with
good energy, and a long and voluptuous finish. This wine has impressive ripeness of flavor at a modest alcohol
2016 Walter Scott Sojourner Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 450
cases, $55. This 15-acre vineyard sits at 650 feet elevation. Clones are 115, Pommard and Wädenswil. Soils
are rocky, volcanic clay with many stones littered throughout the hillside. Vineyard is farmed sustainably
moving toward organic options. Ambient yeast fermentation, 30% whole cluster, aged 15 months in French oak
barrels, 35% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Earth-kissed aromas of blueberry and
pomegranate with a hint of oak. Refined and suave in the mouth, with earth-dusted flavors of blueberry and
black cherry. Beautifully composed, with excellent balance, and a stylish finish.
2016 Walter Scott Sequitur Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 75 cases,
$55. This property is adjacent Beaux Frères’ Upper Terrace Vineyard. 12 acres with 17 clones of planted Pinot
Noir surrounded by a forest of Douglas Fir trees on three sides. Farmed with organic and biodynamic
principles. Marine sedimentary soils. Ambient yeast fermentation, 25% whole cluster, aged 15 months in
French oak barrels, 35% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Vivacious aromas of blackberry jam,
blueberry croissant, cookies-in-the-oven, fertile earth and slate. Mid weight flavors of black cherry, black
raspberry and spice supported by cohesive and fine-honed tannins. The satiny texture appeals, as does the
intensely aromatic and tenacious finish.
2016 Walter Scott Temperance Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 125 cases, $55. This vineyard is on the crown of the Eola-Amity Hills at elevations of
600 to 900 feet. The site is exposed to cool afternoon marine breezes that contribute to late
ripening. Dai Crisp has farmed the vineyard organically since 2000. 26-year-old vines. Fruit 100%
de-stemmed and aged for 15 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Flamboyant aromas of black cherry, exotic spices and sassafras. Stunning and succulent on
the palate with far-reaching dark red cherry and berry fruit flavors. Harmonious, with a deft touch of
oak, and a long, long, long finish. Ridiculous!
2016 Walter Scott Freedom Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 225 cases,
$55, silver wax cap. Vineyard planted in 1982 and farmed by the owners, Dan and Helen
Dusschee and their son Dustin. Soils are Bellpine loam. Ambient yeast fermentation, 15% whole
cluster, aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the
glass. Brooding aromas of black raspberry, spice and compost. Very classy, with mid weight
flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and intense spice. A subtle pine, forest and floral note
plays alongside the core of delicious fruit. The texture is enticingly silken, and the tannins are
unusually tame for this vineyard. Overall, a highly nuanced wine with impeccable balance and an intensely
aromatic and spicy finish that captivates.
2016 Walter Scott Seven Springs Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 225
cases, $65. One of the few wineries to obtain grapes from this iconic vineyard. Sourced from Block B, a mixed
clonal block planted selection massale in 2007. Farming is done using biodynamic practices. Ambient yeast
fermentation, 20% whole cluster, aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
Moderately light garnet
color in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal aromas of fresh crushed berries, cherry, spice
and earthy flora. The lightest and most elegant wine in the 2016 lineup, with delicate flavors of blueberry,
cherry and raspberry. The wine picks up a little depth over time in the glass but never sheds a green thread.
The tannins are fine grain, there is good acidity, and the wine finishes with modest intensity. Tasted repeatedly
over a two-day period with no change.
Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn, McMinnville, Willamette Valley
This estate consists of 21 acres of vineyards and a guest house operating as a B&B, located on a spectacular
50-acre hilltop site with expansive views of the Willamette Valley. Family owned and operated since 2003,
owner Wayne Bailey crafts the wines named after his three daughters (Natasha, Jordan and Aspen). For more
information, visit www.youngberghill.com.
2015 Youngberg Hill Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 286 cases, $35, screw
cap. Released April 2018. Grapes from the estate vineyard (youngest vines), Bjornson Vineyard
in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and Yamhill Valley Vineyards in the McMinnville AVA. Dijon 777.
Harvest Brix 22.7º.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of black
cherry, raspberry, toasty brioche, vanilla and walnut. The mid weight plus charge of black cherry,
black raspberry and cassis flavors are intense and opulent, expansive in the mouth and carry a
creamy texture through a generous finish that gives a slight notion of alcoholic warmth. The
higher alcohol gives the wine body and sweetness.
2015 Youngberg Hill Jordan McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 448 cases, $50 .
Released April 2018. The Jordan Block consists of 4 acres of estate vines situation on a steep and high slope,
getting more benefit from prevailing afternoon coastal breezes. 60% Pommard and 40% Wädenswil clones. 28-
year-old vines. Harvest Brix 23.3º.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The chosen one in this vintage with
invigorating aromas of fresh cherry, raspberry and earthy flora. Discretely concentrated in a mid weight style,
featuring vivid flavors of black cherry and black raspberry. This amiable wine has good energy, supportive
tannins, righteous oak, and a spirited finish of some length.
2015 Youngberg Hill Natasha McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 558 cases, $50.
Released April 2018. The Natasha Block is 6.6 acres in the estate vineyard. 28-year-old vines on owned-rooted
Wädenswil and Pommard clone planted in marine sedimentary soil. 40% Wädenswil and 60% Pommard.
Harvest Brix 24.5º.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal effusive
aromas of boysenberry and blackberry with added compliments of sweet mulch and fertile earth. In the
mouthe, there is a succulent and well-ripened mid weight plus core of purple and blackberry fruits with some
toasty oak in the background. The tannins are quite noticeable and surface on the mildly astringent finish that
has good fruit-driven persistence. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, the tannins had softened. I would suggest decanting if you drink now.
2015 A to Z Wineworks The Essence of Oregon Oregon Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $24, screw
cap. A selection of fruit from 35 vineyards blended to produce a celebratory cuvée to celebrate the
winery’s 15th anniversary. A to Z is Oregon’s best selling wine brand. Classy black and white
bottle label and neck ring.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. This wine evolves nicely in
the glass over time and offers plenty of Pinot pleasure for a modest price. Aromas of black cherry,
rhubarb, earthy flora, spice and seasoned oak barrique. A middleweight spiced black cherry core
has some length and intent, there is redeeming balance, and the whole package is juicy and easy
to like. Tremendous value.
AWE Wines is a tiny label (less than 70 cases of Pinot Noir. Every year, Travis Awe, a winemaker in
Healdsburg and his spouse PJ Awe drive up to the Willamette Valley and pick up the fruit, truck it back, and
make the wine in Napa. The wine is sold through a mailing list at www.awewines.com.
2016 AWE Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., $50. Sourced from Olenik
Vineyard planted in 1989. Volcanic soils with basalt rocks. 100% Pommard clone. Harvest Brix 23.3º. 25%
whole cluster fermentation. Aged in neutral French oak barrels for 12 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Tasted twice two months apart with this review based on the second tasting that was most recent.
dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, raspberry, savory herbs and compelling spice. Mid
weight plus in style, with expansive flavors of plum, blackberry, allspice, and a whiff of leaf and stem. The fruit
finds every nook and cranny in the mouth. Silken in texture, with modest tannins, and a juicy finish. The wine
offers matching flavor ripeness and phenolic ripeness. More overall pleasure when tasted the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Thoroughly enjoyable now, but another 6-12 months in bottle
will prove even more rewarding.
2014 Angela Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $36. this 34-acre
vineyard was planted in 2006 to Wädenswil, 777 and 115 clones. Marine sedimentary soils. The
vineyard is owned by South African wine producer Antony Beck as a gift to his wife Angela.
Production of the wine is overseen by Ken Wright.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass.
Aromas of berry patch, black cherry, dried herbs and damp mulch lead to a an elegantly styled, but
powerfully flavored middleweight wine featuring a delicious core of black cherry fruit. Forward and
giving, with impeccable balance and an intensely-aromatic, cherry-driven finish. Classic Oregon
Pinot Noir to enjoy now or over the next ten years.
2014 Child’s Play Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $24. Tendril second label featuring value-priced
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very shy black cherry fruit with overwhelming aromas of heavily
toasted oak. Mid weight plus, oak-infused black cherry and blackberry fruit that isn’t particularly pleasant.
Tannins show up on the dry finish. Very little Oregon Pinot Noir typicality in this wine. When tasted the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still oak-infused while the palate was a little
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still oak-infused while the palate was a little
more redeeming with more fruit and spice coming through.
2015 Red Electric Armstrong Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 120 cases,
$50. Inaugural release. This wine is a collaboration between winemaker John Grochau and grape grower
Douglas Ackerman. The vineyard has sedimentary soils and is meticulously farmed. Clones are Pommard,
Wädenswil, and Dijon 667, 777 and 115. 20% whole cluster and native yeast fermentation. Aged 17 months in
French oak barrels, 18% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of black cherry and
sandalwood. Mid weight flavors of black cherry and Marionberry are vibrant and easy going. Very satisfying, in
a sleek and polished style with a silky texture, a hint of complimentary oak barrel seasoning, and some
2014 Siltstone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $20. Produced from the Myers Family vineyards.
The Myers Family owned Familys and Vinetenders farming company has been growing wine grapes in the
Willamette Valley for more than 35 years.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dark cherry,
raspberry, earthy flora and a hint of oak. A straightforward, simple wine with mid weight flavors of black cherry
and subtle oak char. Modest tannins, smoothly textured, with unassuming acidity and a short finish.
2015 Evening Land Anden Seven Springs Estate Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $100. For a brief period, following the divorce of Seven Springs Estate founders
Al MacDonald and Joni Weatherspoon, the Seven Springs Vineyard was cleaved in two. Joni
retained the vineyard’s upper half and the name Seven Springs, while Al christened the lower
portion ‘Anden,’ a linkage of their children’s names Andrew and Kristen. The lower half of the
vineyard is home to the Seven Springs’ original plantings of Pommard and Wädenswil on their own
roots dating to 1984. Anden Pinot Noir celebrates the oldest corner of the Seven Springs vineyard
as it slowly succumbs to phylloxera. 100% whole cluster, aged in 100% new Ermitage oak barrels and bottled
Light ruby red color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of cherry, mulch, burnt tobacco and
spice. Light to mid weight in concentration, with a generous charge of dark red cherry fruit. Hints of tobacco,
earth, toast and vegetation add interest. Elegantly composed and silky in the mouth, with imperceptible tannins
and an extremely long finish reflecting the pedigree of the vines. This wine won’t bowl you over with sap, but it
will seduce you with nuance. As the winery announcement said, “A subdued and timeless interpretation of
Pinot Noir ….and a celebration of the finite time these vines have left.”
Diversity of Styles Popularize Pinot Noir Rosé
Ok, I get it. You don’t want to hear about a long-winded dissertation on domestic Pinot Noir rosé. It isn’t really a
serious wine, you say, and rarely reviewed and scored in the wine press. But, picture yourself sitting at your
home patio when it is 95º F outside, and you are thinking about a refreshing drink. Sure, you could reach for a
cold beer and no one would dispute that choice, but if you want wine, are you going to reach for a 14.5%+
alcohol Pinot Noir at 63ºF or a nicely chilled 13.5% Pinot Noir Rosé at 52ºF? That said, Pinot Noir rosé is not
just for hot weather.
According to a report from Nielsen in 2017, rosé wine of all types only represents 1.5% of the total table wine
category, yet it is growing in popularity at a rate of an 53% increase in volume sales over the previous year
compared to the overall table wine category that is growing at 4%. Younger woman are particularly attracted to
rosés, but its appeal is spreading across both sexes.
Let’s be honest. Pinot Noir rosé is an eligible, unadorned wine that is easy to like. Do not consider it a singular
wine for It comes in a wide diversity of styles.
Here is some very practical information about rosés:
1 The palate of colors of Pinot Noir rosé is glorious, ranging from delicate apricot to pink to bright red rose.
2 Rosé wine can be made from any red grape variety, but Pinot Noir has enjoyed more widespread use in
California and Oregon due to its current popularity.
3 Most domestic Pinot Noir rosés are produced by lightly crushing the grapes, chilling them, and cold
macerating them for up to 48 hours. The juice is drained off and fermented in stainless steel in a manner
similar to the production of white wine. A second method, or saignée, eliminates the cold soak. After the
crushed grapes are put into a fermentation tank, the color is checked periodically and the free-run juice is
drained or bled off to finish fermentation in a separate tank. There is usually little to no residual sugar in either
case. Neutral oak may also be used in the production process. Rosé production is largely winemaker-driven
leading to a diverse stylistic interpretation.
4 The best Pinot Noir rosés are those made from grapes purposely grown for rosé production and there is
serious intent to make a fine wine.
5 Since Pinot Noir rosé sells for significantly less than still Pinot Noir, and because Pinot Noir grapes are
expensive and thus are not a profitable bottling, most wineries only produce around a hundred cases annually.
They often sell out by early May. Expect to pay around $22 although the best examples can exceed this
amount. Most often, the wines are bottled with screw caps making them ideal picnic companions.
6 Retailers such as markets only carry a limited number of domestic Pinot Noir rosés because tiny production
limits distribution. The best way to acquire distinctive Pinot Noir rosé wines is directly through your favorite
Pinot Noir producers. Pay attention to the vintage on the label when you visit markets and other retailers, since
those sellers may be still stocking bottles of rosé wine that are a year or even two years old.
7 Pinot Noir rosé wines are usually released in the spring following the previous vintage and meant to be
drunk when fresh in the spring or summer of the year of purchase.
8 When you are dining out, Pinot Noir rosé will often offer the best price-quality ratio on the wine list and will
compliment many of the foods that you and your co-diners are enjoying. Pinot Noir rosé is simply one of the
world’s most versatile food companions.
9 The flavors of Pinot Noir rosé can vary greatly depending on the amount of skin contact, but generally, you
will discover blood orange, strawberry, peach, watermelon, herbs and spice. I have found considerable nuance
in Pinot Noir rosé if you look for it, but these are not wines to contemplate. With essentially no fruit (skin) or oak
tannin, the wines go down easily.
10 Pinot Noir rosé must be chilled for best enjoyment as is recommended for sparkling wine, and even using
ice cubes like the French do is not out of the question.
11 Domestic Pinot Noir rosés are vinified in a wide variety of styles, varying from delicately fruited and tinted,
to moderately extracted and darker colored. They may be bone dry or contain some residual sugar (RS).
12 Rosé wines come in all shapes of bottles, even square. They are also often available in magnum or double
magnum format making them an inexpensive, but impressively generous offering, at parties.
A few domestic Pinot Noir rosé wines from Oregon and California are reviewed as well as two popular French
rosé wines (not made from Pinot Noir) that are in widespread retail distribution. Domestic versions usually have
more fruit aroma and fruit expression and higher ABV. Pinot Noir Rosé wines are not often submitted for review
because the Pinot cognoscenti know to buy these bargain wines each year and reviews are not usually
required by wineries to generate sales. Remember, my scores are relative to other rosé wines and not
comparable to regular Pinot Noir wines.
One interesting observation. I re-tasted the Oregon Pinot Noir rosé wines at room temperature (about 65ºF) the
following day after they had been opened and re-closed. I was surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed all the wines
and some of them were actually better when tasted chilled the day before. My point is, you can drink good
examples of Pinot Noir rosé at a cool, but not chilled temperature, and you could even decant the more robust
2017 Alma de Cattleya Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.57, 560 cases, $20.
DIAM cork closure. Both whole cluster pressed and saignée method. Fruit harvested especially for this wine.
Inoculated with a selection of French yeasts, no malolactic fermentation. Aged six months in the cellar before
Moderate pink coral color in the glass. Engaging aromas of orange peel, strawberry, red cherry and
white flower blossom. Mid weight flavors of orange, red berry, pear, white peach and eucalyptus. Slightly
creamy on the palate, with a thirst-quenching finish.
Note: The Alma de Cattleya wines are value-priced offerings (less than $25) complimenting the premium
Cattleya wines. The Alma de Cattleya label website should be “live” by the end of May. To order now, visit the
Cattleya website at www.cattleyawines.com. You can find out about all wines winemaker Bibiana Gonzales
Rave is involved with at www.bibianagrp.com. She was named the 2015 “Winemaker of the Year” by the San
2017 Baileyana Edna Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $24, screw cap. Dijon and heritage clones
planted in volcanic soils with marine deposits and clay loam at Firepeak Vineyard, a SIP Certified Sustainable
Moderately light pink coral color in the glass. Effusive aromas of fresh strawberry, white peach and white
flower blossom. Discrete richness of peach, nectarine, strawberry and spice flavors with an arrow of acidity and
a lip-smacking finish of note.
2017 Belle Glos Oeil De Perdrix Sonoma County Pinot Noir Blanc
13.1% alc., $25, screw cap. The name
translates to “Eye of the Partridge” in French. Whole grape clusters were lightly pressed with brief contact with
French oak barrels during and after fermentation.
Moderate pink coral color in the glass. Primarily aromas of
garden soil and toast with only the slightest hint of red berries. A distinctive wine apart from the usual rosé
genre with flavors of blood orange, crushed strawberry, yellow peach, pear and toasty oak. Lacks the fresh,
glorious fruit aromas and flavors usually found in rosé, and veers more toward a Pinot Noir Blanc profile as the
2017 Tongue Dancer Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.64, RS 0.5g/L, 220
cases, $25. Released March 8, 2018. Classy package with a tall, stately bottle and a pink wax cap. A saignée
blend from a selection of three Sonoma Coast vineyards. 2-day skin contact. Fermented and aged in stainless
steel. Inoculated with a yeast from the Bandol region of France. Partial malolactic fermentation.
color in the glass. Seductive aromas of strawberry preserves, blood orange and Chanel No 5. Delightful flavors
of strawberry, orange, and savory dried herbs. The slightest tannins add sustenance, the acidity lends
crispness and the overall impression is one of harmony.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
The 2017 vintage was different than the preceding warm five years, being reminiscent of the 2010 and 2011
vintages. Winter was cold with snow extending into a cool spring and delaying bud break by a few weeks into
April and bloom following in late June. Summer was dry and warm, but there were grey skies from fires in the
north and east. The Willamette Valley was spared any effect from the smoke. There were some stretches of
extreme heat in late July and early August which threatened sunburn damage, although the grey skies from the
fires ameliorated this to some degree. Set was large, so judicious fruit thinning was necessary to maintain
quality. Rains arrived in mid-September which slowed ripening.
I was surprised to find that several of the Pinot Noir rosé wines had significant depth of color, noticeably bold
fruit concentration and relative high alcohol. If you closed your eyes and tasted the wine blind, you would think
you were drinking a traditional Pinot Noir wine rather than a Pinot Noir rosé. The color of the wines was a giveaway
as to the character of the wine in the bottle. Darker colored wines tended to be riper, more fruit driven,
with more body and slightly less acidity. The lighter colored wines were more restrained, more savory, with
more refreshing acidity, and more affinity to the popular Provence style of rosé. This is the style of rosé I prefer
and my scores reflect this.
2017 Alexana Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., RS 1.15 g/L, $32. Whole cluster pressed
after picking with no skin to juice contact, then fermented and barrel aged in 100% neutral French oak barrels
for 4 months.
Light apricot color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of strawberry orange peel, floral
blossom and a hint of puff pastry. Excellent palate-chasing flavors of nectarine, apricot, strawberry and blood
orange in a crisp, refreshing and uplifting style. Hits all the right notes for a Pinot Noir rosé.
2017 Anam Cara Cellars Chehalem Mountains Rosé of Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 110 cases, $22, screw cap.
Dijon 114 from Nicholas Vineyard. This clone is grown in the coolest part of the vineyard and was a benefit in
this relatively hot vintage. Fermented on skins for two days.
Moderate ruby red color in the glass (the color
predicts what is to follow). Substantial aromas of strawberry, red cherry, nectarine and a hint of dried herbs.
Very fruity, with mid weight flavors of Damsel plum, cranberry, and yellow peach. Very slight tannins with
balancing acidity. Luscious for a rosé, and will stand up to hearty and savory foods.
2017 A Blooming Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.0% alc.,100 cases, RS 2.3 g/L,
$19. Release May 2018.
Moderate pinkish-red color in the glass. Leading off are aromas of watermelon, red
apple and herbs Quite flavorful, featuring mid weight flavors of raspberry, strawberry and orange with the
slightest salinity. A“big boy” rosé veering to a regular Pinot Noir in extraction, yet enough acidity to offer the
refreshing character of a rosé. Finishes with some length and generosity.
2017 Denison Cellars Kiff Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.47, TA 0.61, 101 cases, RS 5.4 g/L, $22, screw cap. 62% Pommard and 38% 777. Harvest Brix 23.5. This
wine was produced from fruit harvested specifically for rosé about two-thirds through harvest from younger
blocks at Kiff Vineyard.. Fruit was de-stemmed, cold soaked for 7 days, then pressed directly to stainless steel
tank for a 6-week fermentation completed under cool conditions, followed by aging.
The extended skin contact
produced a moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, citrus and savory herbs.
Appealing flavors of strawberry, ripe cherry, raspberry and spice with a bit of garrigue. Veers to a traditional
Pinot Noir, with moderately robust intensity of flavor, but offers the typical refreshing acidity and vibrant finish of
2017 Kramer Vineyards Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.35, TA
0.63, RS 0.2 g/L, 100 cases, $22. Released April 13,2018. Estate grapes planted in the late 1980s. Harvest
Brix 21.7º. Grapes de-stemmed into 1.5-ton fermenter and pressed after six days. Racked to tank for primary
fermentation and aged on fine lees for 5 months prior to bottling.
Moderate pinkish-red color in the glass.
Really enticing aromas of fresh red berries and rose petal. Juicy flavors of strawberry, cherry, blood orange and
spice . Excellent grip, silky on the palate, with a pleasing gift of aromatic fruit on the bracing, dry finish.
2017 Marshall Davis Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé
13.0% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.56, RS
4.9 g/L, 100 cases, $23, screw cap. Clone 114 from Marshall Davis Estate Vineyard.
Light pink color in the
glass. A bit shy with aromas of white stone fruits, red berries, stem and bruised apple. Flavors of strawberry,
raspberry, cranberry and spice. Medium bodied with noticeable sweetness on the juicy finish.
2017 MonksGate Vineyard North Block Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.09, 118 cases, RS 0 g/L, $21, screw cap. Pommard clone. Minimal skin contact.
color in the glass. Really magnetic nose showing aromas of strawberry, spice garrigue, brioche and floral
goodness. A highly distinctive rosé, with flavors of strawberry, white peach, melon, and hints of caramel and
goodness.. Creamy in the mouth with an excellent finishing grip of acidity.
2017 Ponzi Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé
13.0% alc., pH 3.29, RS 3.0 g/L, $23, screw cap.
24-hour maceration after de-stemming and pressed to stainless steel for a cool fermentation. Malolactic
fermentation inhibited. A portion was fermented in neutral French oak barrels and allowed to complete
malolactic to add a touch of creaminess to the mid palate.
Moderate coral pink color in the glass. Welcoming
aromas of red berry, rose and seasoned barrique. Pleasingly dry with bright acidity, offering flavors of
strawberry and blood orange.
2017 R. Stuart & Co. Love, Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé
12.1% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.72, RS
0.11g/L, 184 cases, $22. Sourced from Hirschy, Courting Hill and Menefee vineyards using the second crop.
Grapes loaded whole cluster into the press, rolling it gently to break up some of the grapes. Maceration
proceeded for an hour. Then pressed the juice off and fermented 7 days in neutral French oak barrels. After
fermentation, the wine was aged another 28 days.
Moderately light pink in color. Shy aromas of crushed red
berries, apple, rose petal and a hint of ginger. Light in weight and lean, with flavors of red berry, orange and
herbs, finishing with a tart, strawberry-infused finish. A delicate, acid-driven style.
2017 Saffron Fields Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 175 cases, RS 0 g/
L, $30. Sourced from Saffron Fields Vineyard. 72-hour skin contact, stainless steel fermentation. Winemaker
Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry reduction sauce and flower
garden. Mid weight flavors of dark red cherry, melon, spice, mocha and edible flower. A hearty rosé with
generous ripeness and a hint of oak seasoning.
2017 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé
13.1% alc., $20, screw cap.
Moderately light pink color
in the glass. Gracious aromas of strawberry, pink rose, orange peel, tropical fruit and a hint of oak and herbs.
Beautifully crafted in a Provence style, with flavors of red berry, apricot and orange flower water. Impeccably
balanced with tantalizing acidity and a sleek finish . Highly enjoyable and consistently one of Oregon’s best
Pinot Noir rosés.
2017 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.30, TA 0.674, 3,936 cases, $18. Harvest Brix 20.4º-22.0º. Clones 114, 115, 667, 777, Pommard and
Wädenswil. Soft gravity pressing from weigh of whole clusters. 24 hours of skin contact. Saignée into stainless
steel tanks while the remaining whole clusters are left behind in the vessel to ferment and become the winery’s
Whole Cluster Pinot Noir. The rosé juice is fermented cold in stainless steel. The wine is then split into three
tanks and one tank is kept on its lees while the other two are racked off the lees.
Moderate pink color in the
glass. Bright aromas of fresh strawberry, candy apple and raspberry. Showy flavors of strawberry, blood orange
and guava with a subtle sweetness. A boisterous, fruity style with balanced acidity and some finishing length.
2017 Winderlea Dundee Hills Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.62, 325 cases, $30. Sourced
from Winderlea Vineyard (55% clone 777) and Weber Vineyard (45% Pommard). Aged 4 months in neutral
French oak barrels following un-inoculated fermentation.
Moderately light pink in color in the glass. Delicate
aromas of red berry, blood orange, nutmeg, and orange flower water. Crisp, bright and clean, with demure, but
satisfying flavors of strawberry, apple and herbs. More Provence in style combining both fruit and savory
2017 Winter’s Hill Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 185 cases, $22. Grapes
are crushed after picking and rest on the skins for a short time, then gently pressed into neutral French oak
barrels for fermentation and 6 months aging.
Moderate pinkish-red color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry,
strawberry, underbrush and a hint of toasty oak. Somewhat akin to a regular Pinot Noir, with mid weight flavors
of cherry, red berry, dried herbs, blood orange and a hint of ginger, along with a lush mouthfeel. The fruit is
2016 Chateau D’Esclans Rock Angel Côtes De Provence, Provence, France Rosé
13.5% alc., $35. A.O.P.
Côtes de Provence. Imported by Shaw-Ross International Importers. Winery also produces the popular
Whispering Angel Rosé. Primarily Grenache and Vermentino. De-stemmed and slightly crushed, using free run
juice and first slight pressing with no maceration. Both free run juice and pressed juice partially vinified in demimuids
(600L barrels) and stainless steel.
Light apricot color in the glass. Leading off are aromas of strawberry,
yellow apple, and graphite. Discreetly concentrated flavors of nectarine, red fruits, papaya, honey, pineapple
and spice. Silken in texture, with a delicate touch of oak in the background.
2016 Miraval Côtes de Provence, Provence, France Rosé
13.0% alc., $26 (but available for $20 at discount
retailers). A.O.P. Côtes de Provence. Imported by Vineyard Brands. Property owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina
Jolie along with the Perrin family of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Some jokingly call this wine “Brangelina Rosé.” The
2017 vintage has been released but may not be in retailers yet. Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle. Grapes
de-stemmed, vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats and in barrels (5%) with lees stirring.
Delicate pink color in the glass. Demure, but pleasant aromas of blood orange, strawberry, and spring rose.
Gracious and crisp on the palate, with lighter-weighted flavors of apricot, red cherry and berry and spice
imbued with bright acidity.
Experience Rosé (formerly Rosé Today) is a promoter of experiences to people who like rosé. Two new
consumer events will be held in June and October. On Saturday, June 16, 2018, The Great Rosé Pairing for
Summer will take place at The CIA at Copia in Napa. Attendees will be able to sample wines from the
Experience Rosé: The 2018 Competition held in April. Gourmet foods will be paired with rosé wines from
California, France, Italy and Spain. On Friday, October 19, The Great Rosé Pairing for Thanksgiving will
feature rosé wines produced in the Hopland and Redwood Valley regions of Mendocino County. Held at the
Jaxon Keyes Winery, a selection of seasonally-inspired bites will be paired with rosé wines suitable for holiday
dinners and celebrations. To obtain further information or to purchase tickets visit wwww.experiencerose.com.
Legendary Rosé Cruise Returns to New York La Nuit En Rosé will be held May 18 and 19, 2018 on the
Hudson River aboard the Hornblower Infinity yacht. The even features 100+ rosé wines from around the world,
a two-hour cruise, snacks, VIP lounge and live entertainment. More information and tickets at
National Rosé Day is Saturday, June 9, 2018.For events: https://www.roseallday.com/event-calendar/nationalrose-
Oregon “Tweener” Style Chardonnay Rising
I recently came across an interesting article on Chardonnay titled, “Most Wine Drinkers Don’t Really
Understand Chardonnay,” written by Courtney Schiessl for Forbes website:
Schiessl correctly points out that Chardonnay is neutral in character and doesn’t really fit the perception that it
is a full-bodied, fruit-forward wine with buttery, rich flavors, the so-called New World (think California)
interpretation. The truth is, as she notes, is that most of the aromas and flavors commonly associated with
Chardonnay actually come from the vinification process and not the grape itself. Malolactic fermentation adds
buttery character and oak aging adds notes of brioche, nuts, caramel and spice.
If one is seeking Chardonnay that is less adorned and acid-driven. Schiessl points to Chablis and the Côte d’Or
for sources. Of course, the Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Cruz Mountains, and Sonoma Coast offer very cool climates
ideal for more restrained or unplugged versions of Chardonnay.
Schiessl says, and rightly so, “Look to Oregon, especially the Willamette Valley, for a great balance of rich
texture and fine acidity.” I agree, and the reviews to follow of Willamette Valley Chardonnay may be just the
right compromise between the “New World” and “Old World” style of Chardonnay, a “tweener” style that you
have been seeking.
2016 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.3% alc., 910 cases, $45. Released March 5, 2018.
Barrel fermented in French oak barrels (10% new) with ambient yeast and bottled after 11 months of aging.
Unfined and unfiltered.
Light golden yellow color in the glass with a slight haze. Aromas of lemon, cold steel
and sawdust lead to a spirited wine with flavors of lemon creme, honey and yellow apple. There is noticeable
oak input, but in a good way. The finish has some persistence and is highly refreshing.
2015 Lundeen Articulate Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.0% alc., pH 3.25, 105 cases, $30. Released
February 1, 2018. Sourced from Bunker Hill Vineyard. 5-week primary fermentation, followed by full malolactic
fermentation. Lees stirred weekly for the first six weeks. Aged in one new and three neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of lemon creme, pineapple, pastry creme
and nutty oak. Flavors of green apple, lime and white peach with a herbal note. Very grippy acidity, with a
2014 Lundeen Bunker Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.6% alc., pH 3.22, 102
cases, $30. Released September 1, 2016. Grapes are from a 5-acre vineyard located in the south
Salem hills and planted exclusively to Chardonnay. Soils are volcanic Nekia in type. 4-5 week
fermentation, lees stirred weekly for the first three months, full malolactic fermentation. Aged in one
new and four neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of
green apple, citrus, yeast and nut butter. Spirited flavors of lemon-lime, and Honeycrisp apple.
Somewhat austere, yet bright and appealing, with a round, silken mouthfeel, powdery tannins and
a refreshingly crisp finish.
2016 Youngberg Hill Aspen McMinnville Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.9% alc., RS 0, 336
cases, $40, screw cap. Release July 18, 2018. Clones 75, 76, 95 and 548 planted in uplifted
marine sedimentary soil (Willakenzie). Vine age 10 years. Harvest Brix 21.1º. Barrel fermented in
once-used French oak barrels for 6 months. Full malolactic fermentation.
Light golden yellow color
in the glass. The nose arrives over time in the glass, offering uplifting aromas of green apple,
straw, wax, per and buttery brioche. Clean and crisp with enviable vibrancy in the glass, displaying
flavors of green apple, lemon, yellow grapefruit and poached pear. An acid-driven style, yet quite
flavorful with a bright and steely finish.
2016 Walter Scott Cuvée Anne Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.1% alc., 390 cases, $40. A
blend of the winery’s best vineyard sites, including Freedom Hill, X Novo, Sojourner and Vojtilla
vineyards. It is a reserve blend that reflects the winemaker’s vision of a Willamette Valley
Chardonnay. Fermented with ambient yeast with minimal lees stirring and aging in a mix of new
and neutral 500L and 350L French oak barrels for 12 months. The wine was racked and blended
to stainless steel for an additional 3 months prior to bottling.
Light golden yellow color in the glass.
A complex nose proves interesting over time, offering aromas of lemon peel, grilled peach, honey, toasty
brioche, vanillin, nutty oak and a little reductive flint. The flavors replicate the aromas, with added notes of
yellow grapefruit, yellow peach, pear and yeast with a subtle backdrop of toasty oak. The wine improves as it
warms in the glass. The sleek, seamless texture appeals, as does the juicy, flinty finish.
2016 Walter Scott Freedom Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay
176 cases, $55. The vineyard
owners have been growing Chardonnay here since 1981. Vineyard is farmed sustainably and moving toward
organic options. Fermented with ambient yeast and minimal lees stirring. Aged in one new 500L puncheon, a
once-filled puncheon and a neutral puncheon for 12 months. The was racked and blended to stainless steel for
an additional 3 months before bottling.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. A social wine with lingering
aromas of lemon, poached pear, and toasted bread. The flavors of lemon-lime, green apple, honey, pear and
field greens are bright and clear and married with sensible oak. The wine’s notable “minerality” gives the wine a
crystalline character. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with a hint of tannin, and a very dry and mouthwatering
finish of some length.
2016 Walter Scott X Novo Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Chardonnay
cases, $65. Craig and Robin Williams began planting this vineyard in 2010. Remarkably, the
vineyard contains a plethora of different clones, and the block that Walter Scott works with has at
least fifteen clones planted. It is a very unique site farmed impeccably by Stirling Fox. Fermented
with ambient yeast and minimal lees stirring. Aged in a mix of new and neutral 500L and 350L
French oak barrels for 12 months. Finally, the wine is racked and blended to stainless steel for an
additional 3 months prior to bottling.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. This wine
offers most everything you could want in a Chardonnay. Bright aromas of green apple, lemon,
baking spice, bread in the oven and waffle. There is a little more body here, a little more creaminess in the
texture, and a little more seductive flavors of lemon, pear, spice, and toast. The sprightliness of the fruit, the
impeccably integrated acidity, the viscous palate feel, and the remarkable finish that hangs around for encores
combine to produce a sensual wine that demands contemplation.
Other Oregon producers of exceptional Chardonnay to consider: The Eyrie Vineyards, LUMOS, Lingua Franca,
Evening Land, and Bergström.
Read more about Oregon Chardonnay: www.sevenfifty.com/willamette-chardonnays-find-a-new-niche/.
Pinot in the City On May 15, 2018, 70 wineries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley are heading to Chicago
for Pinot in the City. The evening tasting at Morgan Manufacturing is from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. VIP access
begins at 5:30 p.m. Owners and winemakers will be pouring a selection of both current releases and library
wines, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. A trade tasting will be
held the same day. More information at wwww.willamettewines.com/event/pinot-in-the-city/.Tickets at
Taste of Sonoma Superb local wines and outstanding chefs at the Taste of Sonoma, September 1, 2018,
at Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. Exclusive pre-sale tickets now available featuring ticket
discounts and special benefits for Visa Signature® and Visa Infinite® cardholders. General admission sales
open May 14, 2018. Visit www.TasteofSonoma.com.
Record-Breaking Sonoma County Barrel Auction A record-setting $840,700 was raised at
the Fourth Annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction at MacMurray Vineyards, April 20, 2018, attended by a crowd
of 500 trade people. The top-earning lot of the day and the top-selling red wine lot was one of two special 20-
case “Sonoma Rising” barrel lots benefitting the Sonoma County Vintners Emergency Relief Fund. 2017
Sonoma Rising “Resilience,” produced with fruit from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast and crafted
by winemakers at AldenAlli, Arista Winery, Benovia Winery and Williams Selyem, was sold for $70,000 ($3,500
per case). 2017 “A Perfect Pair” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, made by winemakers at Benovia Winery and
AldenAlli, fetched $2,600 per case.
North Coast Wine & Food Festival The 2018 Press Democrat North Coast Wine & Food Festival
will be held Saturday, June 9, 2018, at SOMO Village in Rohnert Park. The event features the top wines from
the Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge. VIP tickets $135 per person, tasting $95 per person. 90 Gold
Medal Wines, 18 iconic wine country chefs, music, and ongoing programs hosted by celebrity chef John Ash.
Antica Terra + Lillian Announce 2018 Vineyard Lunch Series Lunch will be served from
12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. under old oak trees, among the vines of the Antica Terra Estate Vineyard. Chef Timothy
Wastell will prepare the meal accompanied by a thoughtful curation of wines. Only ten seats at the table for
each date: July 14 and 21, August 8, 11 and 25, and September 9. Tickets will be available to mailing list
members on April 24 at a pre-sale price of $100 per person. Sales will be open to the general public on May 1
at $125 per person. For inquiries, contact Miranda Bradeen at email@example.com.
Red Car Winery Owner & Winemaker Carroll Kemp Moves to Alma Fria Almost
twenty years ago, Carroll left his producing career in Hollywood and became a winemaker. He founded Red
Car along with his good friend Mark Estrin and investors. Mark passed away tragically in 2005, a year after the
pair became full-time Red Car employees. In 2010, Carroll relocated Red Car to Western Sonoma County to
focus on the kind of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that enthralled him. He was able to grow almost all the fruit
used in the Red Car wines. Although Red Car became highly successful, Carroll found another chapter
beckoning. He is joining with a good friend, Jan Holtermann, who founded Alma Fria, a producer of Pinot and
Chardonnay from West Sonoma Coast vineyards. Jan and Carroll discovered a vineyard near Annapolis and
the vines there are now known as the Holtermann Vineyard, the winery’s estate vineyard. Jan invited Carroll to
make Alma Fria’s wines from the inception. Today, Carroll is Jan’s partner and Alma Fria is Carroll’s future.
Alma Fria wines have been reviewed very favorably in the past: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/2424/.
Book on Robert Lawrence Balzer Christine Graham, a Contributing Editor to The Underground
Wineletter has just published a book on wine icon Robert Lawrence Balzer, Hollywood and Wine - A Star-
Studded Life: The Robert Lawrence Balzer Story. Balzer had been working on his autobiography prior to his
death at age 98 in 2011. Graham agreed to complete the book, relying on his copious notes, articles, books
and journals. Balzer was a 20th Century Renaissance man: Hollywood celebrity, Buddhist monk, fancy grocer,
wine educator, bon vivant, restaurateur, chef, actor, author, pilot, poet, painter, photographer, dancer, world
traveler, philanthropist, radio personality and visionary. Some of his closest friends included President Ronald
Reagan, Robert Mondavi, Greta Garbo, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Bocuse, Lalou Bize Leroy, and Claude Taittinger.
The book includes photographs of both the early days of Hollywood and the early days of the California wine
industry. The books is available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.
Burgundy Documentary Debuts ‘Three Days of Glory’ is a full-length documentary film about the
greatest wine events, in the most storied region, during the most difficult year of 2016. The film, by Scott Wright
of Caveau Selections (importers of Burgundy and grower Champagne based in Portland, Oregon), and filmmaker David Baker, was filmed on location in Burgundy, taking the viewer through the frost-ravaged 2016
vintage through the eyes of the vignerons who lived it. The film provides a true insider’s look into Burgundy,
featuring Veronique Drouhin, Dominique Lafon, Caroline Parent-Gros, Aubert De Villaine and Allen Meadows.
For the first time ever on film, viewers will see the behind-the-scenes workings of the famous celebrations La
Paulée de Meursault, the Hospices de Beaune auction, and the feast of the Confrèrie des Chevaliers du
Tastevin at the Chateau de Vougeot, as well as the harsh economic realities and climate change challenges
facing one of the world’s great treasures. The World Premiere will be Sunday, April 29, as part of the Newport
Beach Film Festival and the Napa Valley Premiere will be the following day in St. Helena. Further showings are
planned, including the Nice International Film Festival in France. UPDATE: I attended the World Premiere on
April 29. The movie is captivating and tugs at the heart as the challenges facing Burgundy’s continuing
existence are revealed. Interviews with notable vignerons and Allen Meadows are poignant and insightful. More
about the documentary at www.threedaysofglory.com. Also, visit Caveau Selections at
www.caveauselections.com. Although you may associate Burgundy and Champagne with out-of-reach prices,
most of Scott Wright’s offerings are carefully vetted and focus on the affordable range of $24-$75 per bottle.
The Pinot Noir Programme New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and New
Zealand Winegrowers have co-funded research to find effective and practical ways of breaking the quality productivity
seesaw of Pinot Noir. To continue to drive export growth, crucial for Pinot Noir production, the study
will look to find the understanding of how to consistently produce high-quality wine at a price point acceptable
to the customer while simultaneously increasing both yield and quality in Pinot Noir. Read more about this:
Sangiacomo Family Introduces Estate Wines The third generation of the Sangiacomo family
has launched a series of wines from their estate vineyards located in Carneros, Napa and the Sonoma Coast.
Vittorio and Maria Sangiacomo staked the family’s flag in Sonoma with the purchase of the Home Ranch, a 52-acre fruit tree ranch in 1927. The family’s next generation of Angelo, Buck, Lorraine and Bob Sangiacomo
carried on the legacy by growing the apple and pear business and converting to premium grape vineyards in
the late 1960s. The Sangiacomo holdings have grown to 1,600 estate acres in Napa and Sonoma. The wines
include Sonoma Coast AVA Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, single vineyard designated Green Acres Vineyard
Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Home Ranch Carneros Chardonnay, Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot
Noir, and Oakview Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and the ViMaria Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that
pays homage to the family legacy and is a special barrel selection from the family’s estate vineyards. For more
information, visit www.sangiacomowines.com.
Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival Now in its third season, this festival offers a one-of-a-
kind cultural experience in Oregon wine country. Violinist and co-founder, Sasha Callahan, told me that
winemakers are partnered with world-class chamber music in unique, intimate spaces, allowing audiences to
experience the beauty and craft of extraordinary wine and music hand in hand After two sold-out seasons the
festival is expanding this summer to three weekends of chamber music in Oregon wine country. Performances
will be on Saturday and Sunday afternoons beginning Saturday, August 11 and closing Sunday, August 26.
Concerts include works from pioneering female composes Joan Tower (composer-in-residence), Rebecca
Clarke and Fanny Mendelssohn, plus pieces by Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Philip Glass and a string quintet
by Oregon native Kenji Bunch. Four concerts will be held in the barrel room of J. Christopher Wines, and the
festival will return to the gorgeous vista of Elk Cove Vineyards as well. Tickets and more details are available
now at www.wvchambermusic.org.
Next Gen Takes over McHenry Vineyard For years, I have enjoyed the wines crafted by Henry
McHenry, proprietor and winemaker for McHenry Vineyard, located in the Bonny Doon sub-region of the Santa
Cruz Mountains, and one of the oldest family-run estate wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Henry is a
retired professor of anthropology at UC Davis (where he learned his winemaking skills) who, after 42 harvests,
is turning over the winemaking and winegrowing duties to daughter Annalisa McHenry, son-in-law Brandon
Blanchard and nephew Ian McHenry. The tiny production of McHenry Vineyard Pinot Noir comes from a 2.5-
acre vineyard planted in the early 1990s to Pommard, Pinot 13, Dijon 115 and Swan selection. Winemaking at
McHenry has always been old-fashioned and hands-on, using an old Italian crusher acquired in 1977,
fermenting in 4x4 open-top vats, and finishing with the same basket press used for years. Even ordering the
relatively inexpensive wines is old school using email or a phone number. The website is
www.mchenryvineyard.com. Read more about the transition at McHenry Vineyard in this published article:
Banshee Wines Sold to Foley Family Wines Banshee Wines, based in Healdsburg, has had
remarkable growth since releasing its first wines from the 2008 vintage. Banshee buys all of its grapes on
contract and produces its wines at a custom crush facility. Production reached 50,000 cases of Banshee and its
value-priced label Rickshaw by 2017. CEO Byron Ziegler, founder of Banshee Wines, was retained as chief
Pinot Noir from England? I was surprised to learn about the English Pinot Noir scene that has been
gaining in quality and popularity in an article that appeared in Decanter online:
Noir is the second most planted variety in England at almost 800 acres, accounting for almost one quarter of
total plantings. Most of the Pinot Noir is used for sparkling wines, but some still Pinot Noir is showing promise
at the level of AOC Bourgogne Rouge wines.
A Perfect Pinot Noir? A score of 100 out of 100 for domestic Pinot Noir by any reviewer is extremely
rare. I only know of two: a California 2007 Williams Selyem LItton Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and
most recently, an Oregon 2016 Patricia Green Cellars Estate Vineyard Bonshaw Block Ribbon Ridge Pinot
Noir. These two 100-point wines were reviewed and scored by wine critics working for Wine Enthusiast
magazine. When a wine is awarded a 100-point score, the reviewer is saying in essence that the wine is
perfect and could not be improved. I have tasted thousands of domestic Pinot Noir wines and I have never
found one that I considered “perfect.” A score of 98, meaning near perfection, is the highest score I have ever
awarded a Pinot Noir. I believe almost every winemaker would admit that they have never crafted a perfect
Pinot Noir wine. It is this shortcoming that provides them the impetus to continue to strive to make such a wine.
I am reminded of this quote by football coach Vince Lombardi who said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we
chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
The Studio By Feast It Forward The Studio, a wine collective bringing together food, wine, design,
art and music under one roof is opening in downtown Napa. 16 producers, most of which are from Napa Valley
are involved. An exception is Inman Family Wines from the Russian River Valley. Owner Kathleen Inman
actually grew up in Napa and her first winery job was at Kent Rasmussen Winery. She and her spouse Simon
founded Inman Family Winery in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley in 2000. Read more about
Inman Family Winery, a stellar producer of Pinot Noir rosé, sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and
Proper Tasting and Critiquing Pinot Noir Demands Patience
After tasting thousands of domestic Pinot Noir over the past sixteen years for the PinotFile, I have come to the
realization that reviews of these wines are frequently and improperly based on a perfunctory sampling over a
short period of time. I have found that Pinot Noir, unlike several other varietals, evolves in the glass and bottle
over time once it is opened, and it is this evolution that demands revisiting the wine patiently over a day or two
or even more.
Critics often taste a large number of wines at one sitting. The wines are uncorked, poured into the glass, and
then evaluated either immediately or after only a short time in the glass. In reality, the evaluation process is a
slam-bam affair based on initial impressions. There is no foreplay, so to speak, that allows Pinot Noir to reach
the level of arousal that culminates in a glorious experience.
I have come to develop a routine that I try to follow with most Pinot Noir evaluations. In the late morning, the
wines are brought out of the wine cabinet at 63ºF, opened and poured into a Burgundy-styled glass. Usually 6-9
wines are tasted at a time. Wines are decanted first if requested by the winemaker. I make three passes
through each wine in the lineup, spitting only, allowing an initial impression to develop. I then put the cork back
in the opened bottle and allow the wines to sit at room temperature all day.
I re-visit the wines briefly before dinner, now swallowing small sips of the wines to get the full pleasure of the
wine that has evolved over a several hour period. Finally, I re-cork the wines and revisit them briefly one more
time the following day. This is crucial, for wines are often released before they reach their optimum drinking
I have learned that quality Pinot Noir is a chameleon, with aromas and flavors that change dramatically with
oxidation over time. Many times a wine that did not impress upon opening, blossomed into an orgasmic delight
over night and the reviews and score I would have given the wine on initial impression would have been
This extended scheme of Pinot Noir evaluation is time-consuming and demands commitment and patience, but
I feel it is the only way to do the job properly.