3 Oregon Pinot Noirs (+ Bonus Chardonnay)

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Hello friends. Today marks our first Oregon Pinot offer of the year, and it is a classic, with a trio of Noirs all from venerable Willamette Valley producers (along with one bonus hard-to-find Chardonnay):

2013 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve

We offered three of Patty Green’s higher-end, single-vineyard, limited Pinots back in November (that offer contains plenty of good background on the winery). Today we have access to their entry-level bottling, which they (oddly) call their Reserve. Here are Jim Anderson’s notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

We’re just getting into the 2013s from Oregon, so a note on the vintage is probably in order. For a detailed report, it’s tough to beat the Oregon Wine Board’s Harvest Report. The short version is: a solid, warmer-than-average vintage was interrupted by a huge rainstorm in late September, which turned October into a challenge in the vineyards to manage mildew and rot pressures while waiting for sugars to accumulate. Fortunately, October was unusually warm and dry, and the results – at least in the Pinots I’ve tasted so far – have been charming. It strikes me as a nice vintage for early drinking while we continue to wait for the 2008s and 2012s to evolve; not as overt and fleshy as, say 2009, but pretty close.

Patty’s version is a fine introduction to the 2013s. It saw 10% new French oak and clocks in at 13% listed alc. The nose combines high-toned fruit (cherry blossom, red cherry flesh) with lovely complexities of marine sedimentary earthiness. The palate had me scribbling in my notebook that this is a “come-hither wine,” ripe and charming, with rich fruit, salty-mineral tang, and a healthy dose of overt deliciousness. Jim uses the word “succulent” to describe the fruit, and that’s about as good an adjective as I can imagine for this wine. It’s a very easy drink to love.

2013 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir

One of the great thrills of attending Oregon Pinot Camp back in 2012 was meeting Veronique Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon (see picture, taken from the top of DDO’s vineyards; Veronique is front and center with the purple name-tag; I’m the shaggy-haired dude looming behind her). Her home base these days is in Beaune, but she is in Oregon on a regular basis, especially around harvest time. Veronique mentioned that her father also still comes to Oregon during harvest time on a regular basis. It’s clear that the family has a deeply-rooted connection to the Willamette Valley. It’s a second home to them, and many of the other long-time winemakers in the valley seem like extended Drouhin family members.

I won’t rehash the entire story of DDO here (see our inaugural DDO offer for those details), but suffice it to say that making wine in Oregon was still a pretty risky proposition in 1987, and for the young Veronique to eschew the clear path leading to a career in Burgundy, and to instead farm wine grapes on a converted Christmas tree orchard in the Dundee Hills, well, that should give you a sense of the woman’s character.

This is DDO’s entry-level bottling, now coming entirely from their estate vineyards in the Dundee Hills, and it is a total charmer, with loads of beautiful floral notes, cherry blossom to lift and pair with fleshy red cherry fruit and good jory earth notes. Elegant and graceful, lithe and balanced, this is a wonderfully accessible vintage of DDO. Yes, you *can* age it, but you don’t necessarily have to; it really brings terrific pleasure in its youth, right now. One of a handful of true classics in Oregon Pinot Noir.

Here is what Veronique has to say: [TEXT WITHHELD].

2012 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

This is our first offer for one of Lynn Penner-Ash’s wines, and it is a beauty, coming as it does from the memorable 2012 vintage. Lynn has been making wine in Oregon since 1988, the year she started a long tenure at Rex Hill Winery (finishing as that winery’s President and COO). She launched her eponymous winery in 1998, and perhaps no bottle better shows her broad experience in the Willamette Valley than this one, which comes from a full seventeen different valley vineyards, none of which make up more than 20% of the blend.

It saw about a year in 27% new French oak, 25% one year-old French oak, 19% two year-old French oak and 29% neutral French oak, and it clocks in at 14.2% listed alc. Many of the Oregon Pinots we offer fall on the leaner side of the spectrum, but that is not how I think of the Penner-Ash house style, which is more muscular, more powerful. This vintage is a fine example of that style, offering a nose of deep dark fruit, smoky minerals, and exotic spice. In the mouth, this is palate-staining, powerful Pinot, coating every inch with pure berry fruit. In the mid-palate, right as you’re thinking this is a total pleasure-bomb, the sneaky minty/forest topnotes emerge, the sneaky fine-grained tannins emerge, and you realize this is something altogether more compelling.

Please limit order requests to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Team Full Pull

2013 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur

Bonus Chardonnay! This is not an easy bottle to come by, and in fact this is only the second time we’ve been able to offer Arthur.

The first Pinot Noir vines went into the ground at DDO in 1988, and it didn’t take long for Chardonnay to follow, just four years later. Those 1992-planted vines were 100% Dijon-clone, making them some of the oldest Dijon-clone Chardonnay planted in the new world. 1996 was the first vintage with usable fruit, so the release of the 2013 marks the 18th vintage. As the vines enter their adolescence, recent vintages of Arthur have displayed more depth of character, more wet-stone minerality, and more complexity. All that, and the price has barely risen since the 2005 vintage. It’s a fine bridge wine between old-world and new, with Veronique melding Burgundian sensibility to the joyous exuberance of Oregon fruit.

This too comes entirely from the DDO estate, and it clocks in at 13.9% listed alc. There is a beautiful base of layered tree (apple, pear) and stone (peach, nectarine) fruits, but it’s the subtle complexities that really get the heart racing here: flowers, spices, stony minerals, creamy lactic notes: all flit in and out. The balance is pinpoint across multiple axes – flesh and acidity, fruit and oak – and the overall impression is of a characterful, complex Chardonnay.

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