OREGON PINOT NOIR TASTING - with Rusty Gaffney, The Prince of Pinot
sat in with one of its own, Rusty Gaffney (the Prince of Pinot) for a tasting of 12 Pinot Noirs
from Oregon. Rusty had all of the bottles hidden in numbered bags. From there, it was just of matter of going through them in 6 flights, jotting down notes and preferences along the way. Here are the transcribed notes, but if you really want to "hear" what we thought, check out GrapeRadio when we post this show.
Chehalem Mountains -
- 2006 ArborBrook Vineyards, 777 Block - nose of dark fruit, some citrus, lots of spice, with hints of tree bark and dried leaf. Slightly peppery on the palate, with some earthy flavors and an overall soft and sweet mouthfeel.
Laura Volkman Vineyards, Jacob Estate - darker and deeper than the previous wine, with more earthy tones, as well. Excellent balance on the palate, with a citrusy note and a long aftertaste. (We remarked to ourselves that this wine seemed to be picking up a wet cardboard note with time (as with a corked wine), but it seemed to come and go and we were ultimately undecided about it.)
Dundee Hills -
Et Fille Maresh Vineyard - nose is infused with brown spice and roasted coffee from its cooperage. Flavors of wet leaf and earthy notes add to the cherry and raspberry fruit. Moderate mothfeel, good flavors, balance and finish.
- 2006 Domaine Drouhin - nose of wild raspberry along with what seemed like plenty of acids. Tasty cherry and dried floral flavors, medium long finish, good balance. Deemed higher in acids that the preceeding wines, as well as more of an elegant style.
Eola-Amity Hills -
Torii Mor Eola-Amita Hills Select - fascinating mixture of cherry, cinnamon, and feral qualities. Very nice balance of acids and fruit, tasty entry, with lots of mouthfeel and presence on the palate, continuing past mid-palate through finish. Nice!
Cristom Eola-Amity Hills, Eileen Vnyd - first wiff gives off a big whole cluster fermentation scent along with the requisite complexities of leaf and earth. Sweet fruit on the palate, but the whole cluster note also carries through, with a full and rich finish.
Brittan Vineyards, Basalt Block - pushing the black fruit spectrum in the nose, along with roasted meat, and touch of sweetness. Seems a bit cloying in mouthfeel, with a slight sweet floral quality interrupting the dark fruit. Nice balance and tasty finish.
Raptor Ridge, Meredith Mitchell Vnyd - nose of dark fruit, stagnant water, rose stem, and a whole cluster fermentation scent. Sweeter in mouthfeel than nose would indicate with a trace of bitterness at mid-palate and very long finish. (Disclaimer: I seem to find less to like in this producer's wines. And yet, there was something fascinatingly complex about this wine.)
Ribbon Ridge -
Patricia Green Cellars Estate - earthy, yet very fruit forward i the nose. Less sweet in taste than those so far, with a slightly tart bing cherry quality. Very good balance and finish. This wine is almost Hirsch-like in its blaance and acids, and therefore almost more Californian than Oregonian - not that there is anything wrong with that.
Beaux Freres, Beaux Freres Vnyd - nose of black and red fruit, spices and floral notes. Big in mouthfeel, with a decided sweet-sour mouthfeel that practically anaesthetizes the palate, and morphs in to an acidis and hot finish that seems fall apart. Oddly, this was a wine that seemed to say "hello," only to give you a swift boot in the rear.
Yamhill-Carleton District -
Soter, Beacon Hill - major whole cluster fermentation qualities - both in the nose and throughout the wine. Ordinarily, this may have been a problem, but the wine seems built on this foundation, and the fruit, balance and spices seem to carry it off well.
Resonance Vineyard - light whole cluster scent in the nose, with additional scents of orange zest, floral and roasted meats aromas - so far so good, until a touch of brett-like stink shows up. Very reluctant flavors on the palate, with a rather clunky balance, and a finish that seems to fall apart.
THANKSGIVING - what wines?
Everybody seems to go through a range of emotions about what wines to serve on Thanksgiving. Sure, there are myriad wines you could choose, but let me cut to the chase - California Pinot Noir. As a varietal, Pinot seems to do exceptionally well with the cross section of both salty and fruity dishes that will grace your table. Yes, Burgundy and Oregon Pinot Noir will work as well, but these tend to do better if you have a "wilder" component in the menu - something like wild rice or duck. So, if you've gone the with one of these, or you've gone Cajun with the turkey - by all means select something a little more "earthy." Otherwise, do the right thing - California Pinot Noir.