Tag Archive | Oregon Pinot Noir

2014 Argyle Pinot Noir

I was craving a Pinot Noir.  It has been raining, and somehow a white wine didn’t seem fitting.

According to the winemaker’s notes:

Argyle Pinot Noir is an honest representation of the Willamette Valley. Fermented entirely in small lots, and blended for purity, it toes the line between red and dark cherry, while offering spicy forest floor and hints of black tea. The palate is lively and graceful, building density and focus as the silky tannins build into the long, energetic finish.

All I know is that this is a great wine, I’m tired, and it hit the spot.  Happy Father’s Day everybody!


2011 Panther Creek Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Cuvée

My weeks have been tough lately.  Working long hours, on tough stuff.  I’m wiped out and it’s only Wednesday!

Jon opened up a 2011 Panther Creek Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Cuvée last night.  I was still finishing off a bottle of Chehalem Riesling (delicious!), so I didn’t have a glass of the Pinot until tonight.  I poured myself a glass to pair with a quick dinner of Gardenburger and edamame, and settled in to relax.  On the nose, this wine has that characteristic Pinot pickle aroma, as well as an earthy aroma.

On the palate, this wine is bold; earthy with lots of tobacco and spice on top of overripe cherries.  I love it.  It is delicious, making me wonder if it was even better last night!  This wine is definitely turning my evening around.

I couldn’t really find any information on this wine online, so I suppose you’ll have to take my word for it that it is great.  Panther Creek is located in McMinnville, Oregon, and they just opened a new tasting room in Dundee, Oregon too.

Have you had Panther Creek wines?  What are you drinking tonight?

Wine by Joe Pinot Noir

Last night, I had a glass of the Wine by Joe 2011 Pinot Noir.  Wine by Joe is the second label of the Dobbes Family Estate – with the owner Joe Dobbes also acting as the winemaker.  The winery was founded in 2002, and is now one of the larger wineries in Oregon.  The winery and tasting room are located in Dundee, Oregon, in the heart of the Willamette Valley.

The winery has an excellent spirit of philanthropy; a portion of the sales of all Wine by Joe wines benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Oregon.  Additionally, each quarter, a different employee gets to choose a charity to support.  During that quarter, 10% of the proceeds from the sale of that wine are donated to that charity.  It is a very neat program.

Wine by Joe 2011 Pinot Noir

Wine by Joe 2011 Pinot Noir

So, back to the wine.  In the glass, the color is fairly dark garnet red for a Pinot Noir; on the nose I picked up aromas of cherry and smoke.  Those aromas followed in the flavor, with cherry, light earth and smoke showing on the palate.  The tannins were soft – more mellow than is typical for a young Pinot.  I really enjoyed it – although this is nothing really complex about the wine, it is a smooth, everyday drinking wine that won’t disappoint.

And considering that it was on sale for $11.69 per bottle at Safeway, my only regret is that I didn’t buy more…

Have you tried any of the Wine by Joe lineup?  What are you drinking tonight?


2005 Ken Wright Cellars: Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

Jon and I were planning to open this bottle on New Year’s Eve, but instead I was down for the count with a bad cold.  So we waited until this weekend, and uncorked the bottle.

We got this wine from Jon’s grandfather’s cellar after he passed away.  Each of his grandchildren were invited to choose a few bottles, and this was one of the bottles that Jon selected.  We have been waiting for a good time to open this one, and Jon has been watching the internet reviews on when the best time would be.  And what better time than to ring in a New Year!?  Even if it was delayed a few days so I could actually taste the wine.

2005 Ken Wright Cellars Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

2005 Ken Wright Cellars Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

We opened the bottle in the early afternoon, before heading out for a little trip to Nooksack Falls.  We wanted to give it a few hours to breathe.  We came home after giving it some time, and tried it for the first time.  The color of this wine was not your typical Pinot Noir; it was a darker brownish red that was much more like a mature Cabernet Sauvignon.  On the nose, I picked up ripe blackberries, smoke and a little bit of cola.

On the palate, this wine is fantastic.  It is a wonderfully balanced wine, with the flavors blending together.  There is not as much acidity as I would expect in a Pinot Noir (which makes sense since this is a 2005), and the tartness is almost non-existent.  It also doesn’t have the dominant cherry flavors that are so common with Pinot Noir.  Instead the flavors are muted blackberries, earth, and a hint of that same cola that it had on the nose.

Overall, a great wine – we paired it with a Gouda Pesto Chicken, which was delicious, and a big enough meal to have with this heavier Pinot.  Too bad we don’t have more!

Mouvance Winery – Pinot in Idaho?

The second winery that we visited in Boise was such a surprise!  Who knew that we would find Oregon Pinot in Idaho?  Turns out the owners, who live in Boise, purchased a 50 acre vineyard site near Salem, Oregon.  They worked to build the vineyard and opened the winery in Carlton, Oregon, but moved the winery in 2012 to Boise.  They opened their downtown Boise tasting room in March 2013.  The grapes will continue to come from their vineyard site in Oregon.

We started our tasting with the 2009 Pinot Gris.  It is 98% Pinot Gris and 2% Riesling, and is full of aromas and flavors of honey and pear.  It is a more creamy Pinot Gris, rather than being crisp and acidic.  I tend more towards the crisp, citrus Pinot Gris, but if you like a creamier Pinot Gris, you will love this one.  We had the 2011 Rose next, a light Pinot Noir Rose with strawberry and light cream flavors and vanilla on the finish.  It had far less citrus flavor than is typical in a Rose, but the heavier mouth feel and creamy flavor will appeal to many.

The 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir had strong flavors of black cherry and spice – without overpowering tannins.  I really enjoyed this wine, and it is very reasonably priced at $25 dollars a bottle.

The last two wines we tasted were two different expressions of the Pinot grapes in their vineyard, the 2009 Judith Marie Pinot Noir and the 2009 Donna Jean Pinot Noir.  The Judith Marie has flavors of fig, date and mocha, and a smoky toast flavor on the finish.  Jon preferred this one.  My favorite was the Donna Jean, with stronger blackberry and plum flavors mised with smoke and wood aromas.  Both were excellent, both were young and I’m sure both will be even better after a bit more time in the bottle.  Of course, they are both sold out now, so you’ll have to get the 2010, which I have no doubt are just as good.

The owners, Lonnie and Judy, came out and chatted with us for a bit, taking a break from their barrel cleaning chores.  They were very friendly folks, and we chatted about marathons and the upcoming wine country half marathon.  Sorry there are no pictures, but I was just enjoying the wine so much!  It is certainly a place we will visit again!

May Day at Walnut City WineWorks

While we were down visiting family in Portland in May, my cousin and I decided to do an afternoon of wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.  After Megan and I visited Chehalem Winery, we headed to another winery in McMinnville: Walnut City WineWorks.  Jon and I had visited a few years before, at the recommendation of Jon’s grandfather, and they had some really good wines, so I was excited to try them again.

Walnut City WineWorks is a custom crush facility that provides a production facility for several wine labels: Walnut City WineWorks, Bernard Machado, Carlton Hill, Z’IVO, Lundeen, Genius Loci, and Robinson Reserve.  What makes Walnut City WineWorks different is the fact that they are actively involved in vineyard management for the various labels, and all the labels are sold in the tasting room.  The Walnut City label produces about 6,000 cases per year, and when you combine all the labels the production is about 12,000 cases per year.  They are located in a historic brick building right near downtown McMinnville; I’m sure that it used to be an industrial facility of some sort.  It has been nicely renovated with a modern and tasteful decor, although it is a bit dark inside.

Our server for the day guided us through a selection of their wines from a few of their different labels.  We began with the Walnut City Hodge Podge, a white blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Riesling and Auxerrois.  Wow, that’s quite a blend!  I certainly picked up a lot of the Gewurztraminer in the wine, but overall I thought it was a bit too sweet for my taste.  Megan really liked it though.  After that, we tried the 2011 Z’IVO Pinot Blanc.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write any tasting notes on this wine, and I couldn’t find any online, but I liked it enough to buy two bottles (I’ll have to crack open a bottle soon to give you some better tasting notes on this one!)

We also tried the Z’IVO Charly, which is a blend of 75% Gewurztraminer, 20% Pinot Gris and 5% Viognier.  Again, I thought the wine was a bit too sweet, but Megan loved it (she declared it to be her favorite) and went home with two bottles.  Next we tried the 2012 Walnut City Rose, a Pinot Noir Rose made in the Old World style.  It was dry and crisp and absolutely delicious.  The 2011 Walnut City WineWorks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is the largest production at the winery, with 4,000 cases produced.  It was bright and tart, with a light mouthfeel and a soft, elegant structure.  I really enjoyed it, but it is certainly a very delicate Pinot.

We also sampled the Bernard-Machado 2007 Pinot Noir.  Our server explained that this wine is only produced in years of great grapes, which was confusing to me because I have heard that 2007 wasn’t such a fantastic year in Oregon Pinot – the cool, wet season led to wines that are much softer and more delicate than other years – characteristics in Pinot that I personally love, but not everybody does.  This wine exhibited more of the earthy, forest floor flavors, and it was good, but not outstanding, and it didn’t warrant the $36 price tag for me.

The Walnut City WineWorks 2008 Pinot Noir Reserve was more up my alley.  Spice, black cherries and cola dominate this wine that was barrel aged for 18 months and bottle aged for another 24 months.  It won a Gold Medal at the Great Northwest Wine Competition, a new competition where the judges aren’t professional tasters, but rather people working in the wine industry in Washington and Oregon.

We finished off our tasting with a Lundeen wine, the 2008 Rogue Valley Syrah.  The grapes are sourced from the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, which has hotter, drier summers and and is known for growing the hot weather grapes.  That said, this Syrah is nicely balanced, and was described as a Syrah for Pinot lovers.  The flavors of blueberry and blackberry are accented by just a hint of dark chocolate.

Megan and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit, but of course I didn’t think to take any photos.  We did take some wine home with us – we got a case between us and the server was kind enough to allow us to ring the orders separately and still apply the discount.  If you have a chance to visit, you won’t be disappointed.  And be sure to let me know what you think!

Oregon Wine Tasting – Chehalem Best Barrel Day

On our full day in Portland, my cousin Megan wanted to spend the day doing some wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.  My mom volunteered to be our designated driver, so we made plans to visit a couple of wineries and spend the day socializing and trying some new wines.  Being from Michigan, Megan had never tried tried Oregon wines before, so she was looking forward to experiencing something new.  To be honest though, I was a little concerned because Michigan wineries tend to make much sweeter wines than the wineries on the West Coast.  I wasn’t sure if Megan would like them!

After catching a bit of my nieces’ T-Ball game, we headed over to the Willamette Valley and made our first stop at Chehalem Winery.  Chehalem is one of my absolute favorite wineries, and I was super-excited to be there because it was Best Barrel Day.  Best Barrel Day is a special event that Chehalem puts on each year in May, the weekend before Memorial Day weekend.  Jon and I are wine club members, one of the very few wine clubs that we belong to.  The Best Barrels are available only to club members, and they are only available for tasting this particular weekend (they might taste them again the next weekend – Memorial Day – if there is still enough available).

Megan and I began our tasting with the commercially released whites.  We began with Inox Chardonnay, which is a wonderful crisp stainless steel aged Chardonnay.  This is a fantastic white wine, that is consistent year to year and always a crowd pleaser when we have guests over.  The Corral Creek Riesling is a great Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, with just enough sweetness.

Chehalem Barrels - Waiting for Some Wine!

Chehalem Barrels – Waiting for Some Wine!

After tasting the whites, we went into the cellar to taste the barrels.  Chehalem produces several single vineyard Pinot Noirs and a single vineyard Chardonnay each year, and every year, the winemaker selects one barrel from each wine that exemplifies what that particular wine is supposed to be – the best barrel.  The best barrel is then aged and bottled by itself and sold in 6-packs to wine club members.  The five wines were:

  • 2012 Stoller Vineyards Chardonnay – this wine is aged on oak, so it is a bigger, bolder Chardonnay than the Inox, which is made from grapes from the same vineyard.  It is wonderfully balanced between fruit and oak, with flavors of honey, pear and floral notes.
  • 2012 Corral Creek Vineyards Pinot Noir – Corral Creek Vineyard is the Chehalem vineyard that produces the softest, most elegant Pinot Noirs.  They are some of my favorites.  This barrel is excellent, but this years Corral Creek grapes are more robust than typical, with a bit more earthy flavor than normal.  It still has light tannins and the cranberry and cherry flavors that I enjoy so much.
  • 2012 Stoller Vineyards Pinot Noir – This wine is very big, with a much darker purple color that a typical Pinot Noir.  It is very spicy  with much heavier tannins than many Pinots.  This was my least favorite barrel of the bunch.  That said, as the wine is not finished aging, I have every expectation that this wine will transform into a beautiful Pinot – Chehalem’s wines always do.
  • 2012 Ridgecrest Vineyards Pinot Noir – This Ridgecrest Pinot Noir came from a block planted in 1983, and shows moderate tannins, some blackberry mixed into the cherry, and some light spice flavors (is it oregano or thyme?).  This wine was my favorite from the five barrels.
  • 2012 Wind Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir – Wind Ridge is a smaller section within the Ridgecrest vineyard, and has characteristics that are similar to the Ridgecrest barrel.  There are the same flavors of blackberry and spice, but a bit more pepper and earth than the Ridgecrest vineyard barrel.  It was hard to choose the favorite between this one and the Ridgecrest, but this one came in a close second for me.

It was always interesting to taste from the barrel – these young wines will change a lot before they are finally bottled and sold, but you can taste the beginnings of what they are going to become.  After the barrel tasting, we headed back out to the event tent, where we got to taste the bottled versions of the Pinots that were recently released – 2011.  The bottlings were the commercially released wines, so essentially, we were tasting the versions from all the barrels from the vineyards that were not selected as the best barrel.

Even though these aren’t the Best Barrels, these wines are certainly nothing to turn your nose up at!  The 2011 Corral Creek, Stoller, and Ridgecrest Vineyards Pinot Noirs are all excellent, and Megan and I enjoyed them immensely.  They were served with some gourmet hors d’oeuvres, which paired nicely with the wines.

Even though we don’t often have the opportunity to visit Chehalem, their events are always second to none.  They make you feel welcome and valued when you visit, and I always have a great time.  Still at the top of my list for wineries!

Note: I apologize for the lack of photos on this post – I was enjoying myself so much that I neglected to take more pictures…  I will try to do better next time.

2007 Archery Summit – Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Premiere Cuvee

Jon and I decided to open this wine to honor Martini’s memory – she always wanted the best meats – our fancy steaks, prosciutto, chicken, so it only makes sense that we should honor her with something nice.

Jon and I purchased this bottle on our second trip to the Willamette Valley in December 2009.  Archery Summit is located in Dayton, Oregon, at the top of a ridge that provides amazing views of the countryside.  When we were there in winter, the view was still beautiful as we looked down the hill in the fog, but I can imagine that the view is gorgeous in the summer when the vines are leafed out and growing.  The tasting room is quite classy, with a beautiful tasting counter and cozy feel.

The wine contains grapes from all 5 of the Archery Summit vineyards; Arcus Estate, Red Hills Estate, Renegade Ridge Estate and Archery Summit Estate in the Dundee Hills AVA, and Looney Vineyard located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA.

2007 Archery Summit Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - Premier Cuvee

2007 Archery Summit Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – Premier Cuvee

Upon first opening the bottle, I took a small sip and found that it tasted very closed off with a strong taste of alcohol.  So, we poured it into the decanter and then left it to breath for about 90 minutes.  After we came back to it, we found that it had really opened up nicely.  It has a nose of dark cherry, earth and smoke.  On the palate, the wine is heavy with smoke and tobacco flavors, balanced with the same black cherry fruit.  Although most 2007 Pinots are softer and more delicate than other vintages, it is not so with this wine.  This Pinot Noir is bold and robust.  I certainly enjoyed it.

My second glass had opened up even more, and was even more balanced and delicious than the first.  So my recommendation is that you decant this wine for a couple of hours before drinking.  On the second day, it was slightly softer, but it still had the same balanced flavor.  This was a fantastic wine!

2011 J. Albin Lorelle Pinot Noir

When Jon and I were down in Seattle in October for the Calexico concert and the King Tut exhibit, we walked down to Pike Place Market one afternoon.  While we were there, we stopped in for a minute at the Pike and Western Wine Shop, which is just to the north of the market.  It advertises itself as having a local focus (Oregon and Washington wines), but it also has various wines from around the world.

A bottle of J. Albin Pinot Noir piqued my interest. We tried a few J. Albin wines a couple of years back at a Memorial Day weekend wine tasting at Carlton Cellars (you can read that post here), and I was pleased with the wines.  So the fact that this one had a very reasonable price tag ($14 for an Oregon Pinot Noir) made me pick up the bottle and bring it home.  Jon and I opened it up the other night.

The wine has flavors of strawberry, cherry and a light spice.  Not a lot of structure, and I don’t think it will age (Pinots don’t age all that long anyway…), but it is very drinkable.  It is grown in the Laurel Vineyard, which is one of the older vineyards in the Willamette Valley, on young vines.  I think this a wine that could certainly improve as the vines mature.  This will be one to watch for!

Chehalem 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir

The other night, my debate wine was the 2007 Chehalem Reserve Pinot Noir.  I’ve blogged about Chehalem before because it is absolutely one of my favorite wineries.

This Pinot is ready to drink now.  2007 was a year of softer, more elegant Pinots, and I think this one is a great example of the vintage.  The nose is strawberry and smoke, with a very light mouthfeel. It tastes of strawberry, cherry and the same smoke that is evident on the nose.  At this age, there is very little of the tart acidity that so many younger Pinots possess.

Chehalem 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir

So how to compare it to the debaters?  Well, this wine is refined.  It doesn’t talk over the moderator, doesn’t try to get the last word in, and doesn’t step on anybody else to try to get its point in.  It just stands on its own merits.