Oregon’s Delicious, Cooler Climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

view of Willamette Valley from Domaine Drouhin

Oregon has been growing Pinot Noir since the mid-1960s, but didn’t really start to get international attention for how well the grape does there until Pinots from pioneering Oregon producer David Lett came in third and second in French blindtastings held in 1979 and 1980.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley sits at roughly the same latitude as Pinot Noir’s ancestral home—France’s Burgundy region. While there are significant differences between the two regions in terms of soils and topography, the fact is that both are essentially cool climate, slow ripening regions that are ideal for producing flavorful and balanced Pinot Noir.

RJ with the late David Lett, left, and his son Jason at The Eyrie Vineyards in Nov. 2005

Pinots from Oregon tend to have some of the delicacy and minerality that red Burgundy is known for as well as some of the ripe red fruit most typically found in California Pinot. Their alcohol levels are generally much closer to those of France (13% or so) rather than California (typically 14-15%). Many of them also exhibit a savory aroma reminiscent of forest floor or underbrush, what the French call “sous bois.”

San Francisco was visited last week by a host of producers from Oregon’s Willamette Valley—70 to be exact—in one of the best organized trade tastings I’ve attended in a long time. I was delighted that many of the producers were represented by their winemakers, who could readily answer questions about the vineyards and their winemaking techniques. The tasting booklet was also admirable, not only listing all the wines, with room enough for one to add tasting notes, but also listing the wines’ suggested retail prices.

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Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s Presidio, site of last week’s tasting

I didn’t quite make it to all 70 producers, but did manage to taste 144 wines from 59 producers in the course of the four-hour tasting, during which each producer was only allowed to show up to three wines. I focused mainly on Pinot Noirs, which were by far the majority of the wines poured, but also sampled some of the cousins of Pinot Noir that are also doing well in this region—Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay—as well as a few other stray varieties.

The standout among the latter was a terrific 2010 Roussanne from Antica Terra. This unevenly ripening, finicky grape is a real challenge for winegrowers, and Antica Terra’s winemaker Maggie Harrison told me they had to hand sort out only the berries from each cluster that managed to get fully ripe, i.e., golden yellow, for this wine.

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Antica Terra’s Maggie Harrison

The Chardonnays were astonishingly good. After some disappointing beginnings, Oregon’s Chardonnay producers have replanted in the past couple decades with clones and rootstocks more suitable for this northern climate. Chardonnay is now the third most planted wine grape in Oregon, with about 950 acres, after Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

My small survey at this event suggests Oregon’s Chardonnay producers are definitely getting it right. The Chardonnays were generally very balanced, with refreshing acidity and only a light touch of oak. Of the nine I sampled, two thirds merited scores of 91+ points or higher. These came from Antica Terra, Belle Pente, Bethel Heights, Evening Land, Eyrie and Shea. The 2010 Shea Cellars and 2008 Belle Pente are also relative values, going for $30 SRP, while the Bethel Heights is priced at only $26.

On the Pinot Noir front, the 2010 vintage was responsible for about half the 123 Pinots I tasted, but there were also samples from 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The 2008 vintage has been popularly acclaimed as probably Oregon’s best Pinot Noir vintage to date. The growing period was cool and long, so these tend to be structured wines, with firm, sweet tannins that will make them very ageworthy. By contrast, 2009 was quite warm, leading to some of Oregon’s riper Pinots. These will be good for drinking in the near term. 2010 was, again, a long growing season that broke records for cold temperatures. Many of the 2010s I tasted had good structure and very good acidities. A number of them also showed those “sous bois” aromas that one often finds in red Burgundy.

The vintage now starting to go into bottle, 2011, had another long and relatively cool growing season, one that ran the latest in Oregon history. For most producers, the vintage was saved by a comparatively dry Indian summer. I’m quite hopeful that the results will be as good as the few vintages that preceded it.

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Scott Wright, proprietor of Scott Paul Wines

For me the most impressive Pinot Noirs of all at this tasting, with wines I rated 92 points or higher, came from Archery Summit, Belle Pente, Domaine Drouhin, Evening Land, Rex Hill, Roco, Scott Paul and Shea Wine Cellars. The best values among these wonderful examples are the 2009 Belle Pente ($35), the 2010 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard ($40), Scott Paul’s delicious 2010 La Paulée ($32) and Shea Wine Cellars’ 2010 Estate ($40).

At an even more affordable price level, look for Coeur de Terre’s $20 2010 Pinot (89 points) and Patton Valley’s $20 2009 “Declassified” (89 points).

For my tasting notes and ratings on all 144 wines tasted at this event, see below.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY PRODUCERS VISIT SAN FRANCISCO – Golden Gate Club in The Presidio, San Francisco, California (9/13/2012)

My favorite Pinot Noirs at this tasting, wines I rated 91+ points or higher, were:
2009 Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve – 91+ points
2010 Antica Terra Antikythera – 91+ points
2010 Archery Summit Premier Cuvée – 92+ points
2010 Archery Summit Arcus Estate – 92+ points
2010 Beaux Frères – 91+ points
2007 Beaux Frères Beaux Frères Vineyard – 91+ points
2009 Belle Pente Belle Pente Vineyard – 92 points
2008 Belle Pente Estate Reserve – 92+ points
2010 Bethel Heights Estate Grown Eola-Amity Hills – 91+ points
2009 Domain Drouhin Laurène – 92 points
2009 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée – 91+ points
2008 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve – 91+ points
2010 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard – 92 points
2009 Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Reserve – 91+ points
2010 Ponzi Vineyards Avellana Vineyard – 91+ points
2010 Rex Hill Jacob-Hart Vineyard 92+ points
2008 Roco Private Stash No. 6 – 92 points
2009 Scott Paul Cellars La Paulee – 92 points
2010 Shea Wine Cellars Estate Shea Vineyard – 93 points
2010 Shea Wine Cellars Block 23 Shea Vineyard – 93+ points

The best Chardonnays I tasted, meriting ratings of 91+ points or higher, were:
2010 Antica Terra Aurata – 92 points
2008 Belle Pente Belle Pente Vineyard – 91+ points
2010 Bethel Heights Estate – 91+ points
2010 Evening Land Summum Seven Springs Vineyard – 92 points
2010 Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Reserve – 92 points
2010 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard – 92 points

Adelsheim

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  • 2010 Adelsheim Pinot Blanc – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light yellow color; expressive, floral, Rainier cherry nose; floral, Rainier cherry, ripe lemon palate with medium acidity; medium finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; sous bois, tart cherry nose; sous bois, mineral, tart cranberry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Elizabeth’s Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; lifted, floral, tart red fruit nose; floral, tart red fruit, tart cherry palate with light sous bois; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Alexana

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  • 2011 Alexana Riesling Revana Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light yellow color; focused, ripe pear nose; ripe pear palate with good acidity; medium-plus (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Alexana Pinot Noir Revana Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Medium dark cherry red color; appealing, light cherry, lightly floral nose; light cherry, lightly floral palate; medium finish (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Alexana Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; oak, baked cherry, spice nose; baked cherry, sous bois, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Andrew Rich

  • 2010 Andrew Rich Roussanne – USA, Oregon, Columbia Valley
    Light golden yellow color; ripe apple, tart pear nose; ripe apple, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Andrew Rich Pinot Noir Verbatim – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; floral, tart cherry nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, tart cherry, floral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Andrew Rich Coup D’Etat Columbia Valley – USA, Oregon, Columbia Valley
    Medium ruby color; light reduction, tart berry nose; tart berry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (51% Mourvedre, 31% Grenache and 18% Syrah) (88 pts.)

Angel Vine

Antica Terra

  • 2010 Antica Terra Chardonnay Aurata – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Pre-release (11/12 release) – light yellow color; baked peach, baked pear nose; delicate, baked peach, baked pear, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish (Wente clone, planted in 1976) (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Antica Terra Roussanne Phantasi – USA, Oregon
    From magnum – light golden yellwo color; creamy, almond, ripe pear nose; tasty, almond, tart pear, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (skin maceration for 11 days; only golden berries used) (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Antica Terra Pinot Noir Antikythera – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Dark cherry red color; earthy, forest floor, tart red fruit nose; tart cherry, forest floor, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Archery Summit

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  • 2011 Archery Summit Vireton Pinot Noir Rosé – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light medium orange pink color; tart cherry, tart plum nose; tasty, tart cherry, Rainier cherry palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Premier Cuvée – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; cherry, spice, oak nose; ripe cherry, spice palate with integrating oak, needs 2 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Arcus Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Medium dark ruby color; forest floor, light oak spice nose; tasty, ripe cherry, oak spice palate; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Argyle

  • 2008 Argyle Brut – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light peach yellow color; tart Rainier cherry nose; tart Rainier cherry, very tart apricot palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Argyle Brut Rosé – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Light pink color with few medium bubbles; pear nose; ripe pear, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; nice tart cherry, floral nose; delicate, tart cherry, vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Beaux Frères

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  • 2010 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Medium dark cherry red color; focused, ripe cherry, baked cherry nose; tasty, silky textured, tart cherry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Beaux Frères Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
    Medium dark cherry red color; appealing, light sous bois, tart cherry nose; tasty, a little tight, tart cherry, cranberry palate; needs 2-plus years; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Beaux Frères Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
    Medium dark cherry red color; maturing, light mushroom nose; tasty, mushroom, tart cherry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Belle Pente

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Benton-Lane

Bethel Heights

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  • 2010 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Estate Grown – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Light yellow color; focused, ripe pear nose; tasty, rich but poised, ripe pear, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (20% new French oak; 65% Dijon clones, 35% old vine Wente clone; 13% alcohol; pH 3.21) (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate Grown Eola – Amity Hills – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Medium dark cherry red color; ripe cherry, oak nose; ripe cherry, floral, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Medium cherry red color; ripe cherry, berry nose; ripe cherry, berry, French oak palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Broadley

Brooks

  • 2009 Brooks Riesling – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light yellow color; lowered tart peach, spice nose; tart peach, spice palate; medium-plus finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2011 Brooks Pinot Noir “Runaway Red” – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; ripe cherry nose; light-bodied, ripe cherry, tart red berry palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Brooks Pinot Noir Janus – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; VA, tart cherry nose; odd, tart cherry palate; medium finish (84 pts.)

Chehalem

  • 2010 Chehalem Pinot Noir 3 Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; oak, tart red fruit nose; oak, tart red fruit palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Chehalem Pinot Noir Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
    Dark cherry red color; tart cherry, cranberry nose; tasty, ripe cherry, spice palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Coeur de Terre

  • 2011 Coeur de Terre Pinot Gris – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
    Light yellow color; ripe grapefruit nose; ripe grapefruit, ripe lemon palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Coeur de Terre Pinot Noir Oregon – USA, Oregon
    Medium dark cherry red color; reduction, tart cherry nose; tart cherry, tart raspberry palate with medium acidity; medium finish (good value at about $20) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Coeur de Terre Pinot Noir Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
    Dark cherry red color; oak, baked berry nose; oaked, baked berry, Nebbiolo-like palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)

Colene Clemens

  • 2010 Colene Clemens Pinot Noir Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
    Dark cherry red color; baked cherry, sous bois nose; baked cherry, sous bois palate; medium finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Colene Clemens Pinot Noir Estate Grown Victoria – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
    Very dark cherry red color; baked cherry, light sous bois nose; light-bodied, baked cherry, light sous bois palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Colene Clemens Pinot Noir Estate Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
    Dark cherry red color; sous bois, tart cherry nose; sous bois, tart cherry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Cooper Mountain

De Ponte

  • 2009 De Ponte Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Medium red color; tart red fruit nose; cranberry, tart red fruit palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Dobbes Family

Domaine Drouhin

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  • 2010 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Light yellow color; tart pear, apple, light vanilla nose; tasty, tart pear, apple, light vanilla palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; baked cherry nose; light-medium bodied, baked cherry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Laurène – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Medium dark cherry red color; baked cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, soft, tart cherry, raspberry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Domaine Serene

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Dominio IV

Duck Pond

  • 2010 Duck Pond Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light medium red color; pale, floral, tart cranberry nose; floral, tart cranberry palate; medium finish (86 pts.)

Dukes Family

  • 2009 Dukes Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Alyssa – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Medium cherry red color; reduction, tart baked cherry nose; tart baked cherry palate; medium finish (30% whole cluster) (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Dukes Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Charlotte – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Medium red color; sous bois, floral, tart cherry nose; sous bois, floral, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish (clones 777, 667 & 828) (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Dukes Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Alyssa – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Light medium red color with pale meniscus; light baked red fruit nose; light-bodied, tart red fruit palate; medium finish (86 pts.)

Elk Cove

Evening Land

Eyrie

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  • 2010 Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay Original Vines Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Light green-tinged yellow color; tart pear, apple nose; tasty, ripe pear, tart apple, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (from 40 yr old vineyard; neutral oak, sur lee) (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Grown – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Light-medium red color; earthy, tart cranberry nose; earthy, tart cranberry palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Original Vines Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Light-medium red color with pale meniscus; dried cherry nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, dried cherry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Hawks View

Hyland

  • 2010 Hyland Estates Pinot Noir Hyland Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
    Medium dark cherry red color; brett, earthy nose; brett, earthy, tart cranberry palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Hyland Estates Pinot Noir Coury – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
    Dark cherry red color; light sous bois, tart cranberry nose; light sous bois, tart cranberry palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Iota

  • 2010 Iota Pinot Noir Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Dark cherry red color; sous bois, earthy nose; sous bois, earthy, tart cranberry palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Iota Pinot Noir Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Medium cherry red color; tart red fruit, sous bois nose; tart red fruit, sous bois, cranberry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

J.K. Carriere

J Wrigley

Lachini

Lange

Le Cadeau

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  • 2010 Le Cadeau Pinot Noir Red Label – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; sous bois, tart red fruit nose; sous bois, tart red fruit, floral palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Le Cadeau Pinot Noir Rocheux – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; appealing, tart cherry, floral nose; tart cherry, floral, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Le Cadeau Pinot Noir Côte Est – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; baked cherry, raspberry nose; baked cherry, raspberry, sous bois palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Lemelson

Methven Family

Montinore

  • 2011 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium red color; reduction, tart red fruit nose; reduction, tart red fruit palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium red color; oak, baked cherry nose; oak, baked cherry, cinnamon palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Omero

  • 2011 Omero Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; floral, tart cherry nose; floral, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Omero Cellars Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
    Medium dark cherry red color; floral, tart cherry nose; tasty, floral, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Patton Valley

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Penner-Ash

  • 2010 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; baked cherry nose; tasty, baked cherry, tart red fruit palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir Dussin Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; tart red fruit, floral nose; tart red fruit, floral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Ponzi

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  • 2010 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; redolent, tart cherry, sous bois nose; tart cherry, sous bois palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Avellana Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; tart cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, medium bodied, ripe cherry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium red color with pale meniscus; floral, tart cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, floral, tart cherry, raspberry palate; needs 1-plus year; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Raptor Ridge

  • 2010 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; tart cherry nose; tasty, tart cherry palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; baked cherry, oak nose; baked cherry, oak, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Redhawk

  • 2010 Redhawk Vineyard Pinot Noir Grateful Red – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Light red color with pale meniscus; tart strawberry nose; light-bodied, tart strawberry, tart cherry palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Redhawk Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
    Light medium red color; tart cherry, oak nose; light-medium bodied, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish (40% new oak) (88 pts.)

Rex Hill

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  • 2010 Rex Hill Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; savory, tart cherry, oak nose; tart cherry, mineral palate with integrating oak; medium finish (15% whole cluster; 13% alcohol) (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Rex Hill Pinot Noir Jacob-Hart Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; savory, tart cherry, French oak nose; tasty, tart cranberry, tart cherry, mineral palate with firm tannins; will age well; medium-plus finish 92+ points (50% whole cluster; Demeter cert’d vineyard) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Rex Hill Pinot Noir Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; tart cranberry, tart cherry nose; tasty, tart cranberry, tart cherry palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (30% whole cluster; Reserve is their best blend) (91 pts.)

Roco

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  • 2010 Roco Pinot Noir Marsh Estate Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; appealing, tart red fruit, floral nose; tasty, delicate, tart red fruit, floral, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Roco Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; brett, tart red fruit nose; brett, tart red fruit palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Roco Pinot Noir Private Stash No. 6 – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
    Medium dark cherry red color; floral, tart cherry, mineral nose; tasty, delicate but structured, floral, tart cherry, tart raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (clones 777, 667 and a selection of 777) (92 pts.)

Scott Paul

  • 2009 Scott Paul Cellars Pinot Noir La Paulee – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Medium ruby color; tart red fruit, cinnamon, earthy nose; tasty, tight, tart cherry, tart red fruit, mineral palate; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (11 mos in French oak, 20% new; totally destemmed; relatively good value at $32 SRP) (92 pts.)

Shea

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  • 2010 Shea Wine Cellars Chardonnay Shea Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Light yellow color; appealing, focused, ripe pear, ripe apple nose; tasty, tart pear, green apple, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (94% French oak, 18% new, 6% stainless steel; Dijon clones 95 & 76; very good value at SRP $30) (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Shea Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Shea Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Dark cherry red color; appealing, floral, tart raspberry, cherry nose; tasty, poised, tart raspberry, tart cherry, cranberry palate; will age well; medium-plus finish (13.2% alcohol; 47% new French oak) (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Shea Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Block 23 Shea Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Very dark cherry red color; very appealing, tart cherry, raspberry, floral nose; tasty, ripe cherry, raspberry, tart cranberry, mineral palate with medium acidity; will age well; medium-plus finish 93+ points (80% new French oak; 13.5% alcohol) (93 pts.)

Sokol Blosser

  • 2009 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Dundee Hills – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Dark cherry red color; sous bois, tart red fruit nose; reduction, tart red fruit, sous bois palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Soléna

Soter

  • 2011 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium cherry red color; tart cherry, floral nose; tart cherry, floral palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Soter Pinot Noir North Valley – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; baked cherry nose; baked cherry palate with lowish acidity; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Soter Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Ranch – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Medium cherry red color; floral, tart cherry nose; tasty, floral, tart cherry palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)

Stoller

  • 2010 Stoller Chardonnay Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Light yellow color; ripe pear nose; tart pear, tart apple palate; medium-plus finish (clones 75, 95 & 96; 50% malo) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Stoller Pinot Noir SV Estate Dundee Hills – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Dark cherry red color; baked cherry nose; tasty, floral, baked cherry, baked red fruit palate; medium-plus finish (vineyard planted in 1995–60% Pommard, 20-25% Wadenswill; 15-20% 777) (91 pts.)

Trisaetum

  • 2010 Trisaetum Pinot Noir Coast Range Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Medium red color with pale meniscus; floral, tart red fruit nose; floral, tart red fruit, rosehips palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Trisaetum Pinot Noir Estates Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color; cherry, light spice nose; tart cherry, spice palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Wahle

Westrey

  • 2009 Westrey Pinot Noir Oracle Vineyard – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Dark cherry red color; tart red fruit, floral nose; tart red fruit, floral palate; needs 1 year; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Westrey Pinot Noir Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Dark cherry red color; tart cherry, baked cherry nose; tart cherry, baked cherry palate; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

White Rose

WillaKenzie

  • 2010 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium red color with pale meniscus; floral, tart cherry nose; floral, tart cherry, tart strawberry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir Pierre Léon – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; floral, tart red fruit nose; floral, tart red fruit, rosehips palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Willful

  • 2011 Daedalus Cellars Pinot Noir Jezebel – USA, Oregon
    Medium dark cherry red color; tart red fruit, red berry nose; tart red fruit, red berry palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Willful Pinot Noir – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Dark cherry red color; VA, tart red fruit nose; tart red fruit palate; medium finish (86 pts.)

Youngberg Hill

  • 2009 Youngberg Hill Pinot Noir Natasha – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
    Dark cherry red color; tart red fruit, reduction nose; tart red fruit, reduction palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2008 Youngberg Hill Pinot Noir Jordan Block – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville
    Very dark cherry red color; earthy, tart red fruit nose; earthy, tart red fruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)
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6 Responses to Oregon’s Delicious, Cooler Climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

  1. Richard, you have offered very comprehensive coverage of Oregon’s Pinot in the City event with commendable photos. Those Oregonians are a good looking bunch. My only question is how did you possibly review and score 144 wines during the 4 hr event. That is less than 2 minutes per wine. I am sure you were spitting, but still you had to easily absorb the equivalent of at least 5 standard glasses of wine over that period. That, plus palate fatigue surely must have affected your judgement. I have attended many of these tastings, but I have never come close to tasting even half that number, especially when I talk to the winemakers with questions and need to write or record relevant comments, and try to maintain some credible judgement. You must have a sidekick!

    • Richard Jennings says:

      Rusty,

      Thank you for visiting the site. And thanks for the kind comments on the coverage of this event.

      As to tasting and reviewing that many wines in a short period, I don’t know anyone else who goes to these events who tastes and can record as much as I do. I’ve trained myself to do it over a period of 9 or 10 years now. It’s a very dubious talent, but it’s one I’ve keenly developed. I am, if you will, the Michael Phelps of massive trade tasting events. I spit everything, of course, and I don’t think the absorption is the equivalent of five standard glasses, as you suggest, but it is probably close to 2 or 2 and a half glasses in the course of that much time. I take frequent sips of water and nibble on bread or crackers to keep the palate fresh. I don’t have the time to record near the number of descriptors when tasting at that rate as I do when I’m tasting much fewer wines over a more leisurely period, but I’ve found, over many years of doing this, that my scores are valid–that I end up within a point or with the identical score when I retaste the same wine in a more leisurely setting.

      I appreciate these kinds of events for providing the opportunity to taste many things from the same vintage or region, permitting abundant comparisons and allowing one to hone in on the characteristics of a particular region or a vintage. These kinds of speed tastings are grueling — not the enjoyable experience of tasting several wines and meditating on them for an evening — but it’s a different kind of opportunity and one that I’ve simply trained myself to take advantage of. I wish I had a sidekick, but it’s only me.

      My warmest regards to the Prince of Pinot, for your superb and in-depth coverage of our beloved grape.

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  4. Matt Mauldin says:

    Very nice coverage as always. I’m definitely looking forward to tasting more 2010 OR Pinot’s. I was able to taste a few at the Wine Blogger’s Conference last month and liked what I saw in the vintage- balance and nice earthy flavors. One wine in which we diverge- the 2010 Soléna Domaine Laurent- that was my favorite wine tasted last month while in OR! Cheers Richard-

    • Richard Jennings says:

      Matt,

      Thanks for the kind comments. I read your report on CT of what you tasted, and saw we diverged on a couple things, like the Solena. I’m glad you got to taste some good things at WBC.

      Warm regards,
      Richard

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