Friday, March 4, 2016

Great Wines from Oregon Pinot Noir Club






Today's offer includes six wines: Three of them are absolute blockbusters, that are in incredible shape, including a new release from Patricia Green Cellars that will unquestionably end up as 
Bob tasting more Oregon wines, our never-ending pleasure!
a top pick from the 2014 vintage. In addition, we are offering three wines from 2014 that offer tremendous value -- in fact, I expect more delicious wines with very fair prices from '14 than from any vintage since 2008. 


The Only Constant is Change

There are some changes coming for the Oregon Pinot Noir Club this year -- I'm changing the newsletter format soon, we will be much more active on social media, and I'm expanding my reviews to include more frequently wines from other regions that I love, particularly Italy and dry riesling from around the globe. And . . . well, I can't spoil ALL the surprises.
This is an actual paper copy of an old newspaper column I wrote in 1994.

As we near the end of a quarter-century of talking and writing ab
out Oregon wine, I remain profoundly grateful for the continued support of our loyal clients, many of whom have been with us for years and even decades. Thanks to you all for your continued support.  -- Pinotguy Bob 




2014 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir
15th Anniversary Cuvee
$85 / bottle
My Early Pick for a Top Wine of the 2014 Vintage

To celebrate a benchmark vintage, Patty Green and partner / winemaker Jim Anderson have blended a 15th Anniversary Cuvee, labeled with a painting of Patricia Green herself (last used in 2008). The wine was meticulously blended from a select set of barrels representing many of the winery's top vineyard sources, and only 150 cases were made.
 
Once the cork is pulled and the wine poured, the aromas are deep, dark and show a sauvage character. On the palate, it is explosive, expansive and endlessly layered and complex, and so persistent on the palate there's no point in talking about a 'finish' per se.  Waves of fruit continue to saturate the palate as long as you can resist swallowing or spitting. This is a blockbuster pinot, laden with glorious fruit and fine structure, and may be the best Patricia Green Cellars wine I've tasted since their inception 15 years ago - and I've had all of them. The wine is destined to be a top bottling from 2014. 

If you want to read the full info on how the blend was assembled and what the component vineyards are, you can read that here


Get the Patricia Green and all the wines in this offer HERE


2014 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir by Soter
$20/ bottle
The Top Version So Far

Now in its sixth vintage, Planet Oregon Pinot Noir has maintained its status as a tasty and affordable wine, all while being produced according to some admirable do-gooder principals. It has been one of our go-to bargains since its inception, mostly because the winemaking team of Tony Soter and James Cahill can do virtually no vinous wrong.
 
But value wines in 2014 are a step ahead of other vintages in recent years. The wines are darker, bolder, more stuffed with juicy fruit. This is clearly the best of the Planet Oregon bottlings, and is still priced at an unbelievable $20 per bottle.
 
What do you get for your Jackson (an old fashioned term for a $20 bill, because Andrew Jackson is on the bill (he was our seventh president)?  Slightly brambly, juicy, fresh and vigorous fruit with a dark berry character,  balanced acidity, and a forward nature that rewards immediate consumption.
 
Plus, there's the do-gooder part. Here's some info from the winery about that:
 
"For Planet Oregon wines we insist on sourcing from certified sustainable vineyards and bottle in a certified sustainable winery so that our promise to be responsible and mindful stewards of the land goes beyond words and into practice.  For Planet Oregon we work exclusively with growers that are one or all: Organic, Biodynamic, LIVE or Food Alliance certified -- all of whom meet the Salmon Safe criteria in the process. What they all share is their subscription to a set of principles; minimizing synthetic off-farm inputs, following natural systems and methods instead of chemical and being responsible for the broader impact of their activities.
 
"Planet Oregon wines are bottled in a certified sustainable winery; one of just 14 wineries in Oregon, and very few in the world, that can also claim to have rigorously documented, reduced, mitigated and offset all carbon accounted for in their onsite production methods. This is all done in accordance with the international standards and the data is posted to The Climate Registry as part of our ongoing commitment.
 
"We believe the time has come for Oregon winegrowing to become a beacon of best practices. Protecting Oregon's environment is a Planet Oregon priority. We pledge $1 for every bottle of Planet Oregon sold in Oregon to the Environmental Council, which safeguards the health of Oregonians by working for clean air, clean water and healthy food from local farmers. Planet Oregon truly is a wine that will satiate your need for flavor while also satisfying your conscience." 

This is a great case buy for your daily drinker, and highly recommended. 


2012 Eyrie Pinot Noir Daphne
$85 / bottle
Vinous 94 Points
Stellar 2012 Vintage

When your winery was the very first one to plant pinot noir in the Willamette Valley, it stands to reason that your vineyards are the oldest, and some of the best, right?  It's true at Eyrie.
 
These days,  second-generation winemaker Jason Lett  -- who took the reins in 2005 - bottles pinot noir from their four,  old-vine vineyard sites individually, with delicious results. These include the oldest vineyard in the Willamette Valley, the Eyrie Vineyard, as well as Daphne, Rolling Green and Three Sisters Vineyards.
 
For a couple of vintages now, I've swooned over the Daphne bottling in particular.  This bottling gives off an assertive aroma of tangy red fruits tinged with a hint of iron and iodine. This is echoed on the palate, with bright red cherry and raspberry flavors delivered in a dense, rich format but buoyed by enough acidity to induce salivation. The grapes for this wine were picked at a perfect point, with well-developed flavor that never goes over the top and produced just 13% alcohol. It's intense, viscous, long, and a great example of what top 2012 Oregon pinot can be. Approachable and enjoyable now, and likely for 10-15 years to come.
 
This wine was awarded a Vinous 94 Points, with these notes: "Vivid red. Explosive, sharply focused, mineral-laced aromas of black raspberry, cherry pit, Asian spices and candied flowers. Stains the palate with intense red and dark berry preserve flavors that gain flesh and a smoky nuance with air. Shows outstanding power and vivacity on the finish, which is framed by velvety tannins that fade slowly into the wine's dense fruit. The interplay of richness and vivacity here is striking." - Josh Raynolds
now. 

2014 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Villages Cuvee
$21 / bottle
Another Amazing '14 Bargain

Two clear-as-day facts inform this wine.  First, Mark Vlossak has been making Oregon pinot noir for a long, long time . . .the winery was founded in 1988.  That's close to thirty years experience.  Sometime in the last fifteen years or so, his wines moved up to a new level, where the style and quality merged in a fashion I find delicious. Nowadays, I know they will be good every year, without fail.
 
Next, the juice is from the 2014 vintage. That vintage produced a large volume of ripe, flavorful fruit. That means many wineries have a lot of extra juice to bottle up. The trickle-down theory of all that extra juice combined with the quality of the vintage means that even value-priced wines will be packing a serious fruit component.
 
In fact, we are starting to see a small flood of relatively inexpensive wines that are of higher quality for the money than I've seen since the 2008 vintage.  Remember 2008?  That was our "vintage of the decade / century / history of Oregon" - at least until the '12s and '14s came along. With that '08 vintage, the full force of the Great Recession was in play as the wines were being released.  A whole lotta great juice went into value-priced wines, because wineries needed to sell wine.
 
Since then, prices have been climbing and some vintages have been mixed in overall quality. It has not been until these '14s that the price-to-quality ratio has swung strongly in favor of the consumer.
 
To get to the point, the 2014 Villages Cuvee is a stellar wine for the money. Made by one of our most experienced winemakers, from a terrifically tasty vintage, and still only $21 per bottle - that's a deal. For your money you'll get cascading layers of dark, juicy fruit balanced with super fine tannins and nice acidity. And, you'll get a preview of the fruit volume, fine structure and restrained power of the 2014 vintage overall. And if this wine tempts you into coveting the St. Innocent single-vineyard wines due later this year - well, that just means you have a good palate. 



2012 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Laurene
$65 / bottle
Vinous 93 Points!

Back in about 1989, I was invited to a winery release party at a downtown Portland hotel for the first vintage of Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir, the 1988 vintage. The event was filled with luminaries of the Oregon wine industry - or at least as luminous as we got back then. I think I had to borrow a sports coat to attend. The wine was really, really good, although the general concensus was that $24 per bottle retail was way, way too high.
 
The arrival of the Drouhin's in Oregon was a momentous occasion for the industry, as one of the great wine families of France validated the vision for great pinot noir from this region. Now of course, top Burgundian winemakers are common, but Drouhin was the first.
 
Not many years later, they released their first Laurene bottling, which typically shows a more modern style of winemaking as compared to the Willamette Valley bottling (now transformed into the Dundee Hills bottling).
 
The 2012 Laurene features forward, darker red aromas mingled with loamy notes and on the palate, dare red fruit, and abundance of fine and minerally tannins, and great length. It has a fresh character, and the ripe flavors are balanced by abundant acidity. The wine caries 14.1% alcohol, but there is no heat or sense of excessive ripeness, only perfection of balance. Quite approachable now, this will age well, too.
 
This wine was awarded a Wine Spectator 92 Points, and a Vinous 93 Points with these notes from Vinous: "Bright ruby. Heady red and dark fruit liqueur, candied rose, allspice and woodsmoke scents show excellent clarity and a complicating hint of licorice. Palate-staining blackberry and spicecake flavors open nicely in the middle palate, picking up floral pastille and cola nuances and a hint of black tea. Rich and broad but energetic too, finishing with powerful spicy thrust and velvety tannins." - Josh Raynolds

2014 Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir Dundee Hills
$25 / bottle
Old Vine Fruit + Low Price! 
Arterberry Maresh
From his first time out of the winemaking gate back in 2005 to now, Jim Maresh has hewed true to his vision:  Elegant wines from old vines. It helps plenty that his family owns the famed Maresh Vineyard, one of the state's oldest and source of many of the best wines ever made here. And it sure doesn't hurt that he gets fruit from some extremely desirable sites like Weber and Juliard Vineyards.

A few years back, to solve a cash flow crisis, Jim put some barrels of juice together and bottled it up, and sold it for a song (that's old fashioned to mean:  inexpensively).  It sold fast. Since then, this part of the program has resolved into an annual Dundee Hills bottling that is still a screaming deal.

The wine is a blend of barrels from all those aforementioned, high-quality sites. It is literally a blend of top-shelf, old-vine juice. The core of the wine is concentrated-but-lifted red fruit with glints of darker fruit character showing through. It has excellent texture and persistence, and any sense of youth should be soon smoothed over with a short amount of bottle age. This is quality juice from amazing sources that carries an exceptionally low price tag for the quality. 


 
Notes on selected wines. The full selection appears on our web site via this link HERE.
 
Sincerely,
Robert Wolfe
Oregon Pinot Noir Club

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