Hello friends. Many people consider Pinot Noir a decidedly fall beverage. I think it’s something about the sound of crunching leaves and foraging for mushrooms. For me, spring has always been an equally appealing time to stock up on Pinot Noir. These wines are always food friendly enough for Easter dinner or a Passover Seder, with low-to-mid level alcohol that’ll keep you awake as the sun sets increasingly later and later.
Over the past few years, Pinots—when listed at the right price and made by the right winery—have begun to beat out list member favorites, like Cab and Syrah, in popularity. So when Pinot season hits, spring or fall, we search for samplings from our neighbors to the South in hopes of finding Oregon bottles that belong on our dinner tables and make our wallets happy. Here is a pair of recent highlights:
2016 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
Adelsheim represents the best thing about the Willamette Valley: the spirit of innovation. While Adelsheim might not be the trendiest/hippest producer right now, David and Ginny Adelsheim truly helped pioneer the region. In 1971, David Adelsheim purchased his first 19 acres and launched his winery—just five years after David Lett planted Eyrie’s first vines. Now, Adelsheim has six estate vineyards covering over 180 acres. Adelsheim falls into the small group of growers and vintners who are responsible for the Willamette’s past, present, and future.
And honestly, one of best things about these pioneering wineries is that they aren’t the trendiest or the hippest. They know how to make wine, they know their style, and they stick to it. With Adelsheim, it’s decades of consistency, exceptional purity, and incredible value. Today’s offer offers all of that—especially value. This is without a doubt the lowest TPU pricing we’ve ever had for this wine. Released at $32, this wine was delicious. Available for $19.99, it’s utterly joy inducing.
Raised in French oak, 25% new, for 10 months, this cuvée is a blend of Adelsheim’s Pinot holdings across the Willamette Valley. Delightfully red—pomegranate, raspberry, cranberry—and decidedly spiced with allspice, cloves, and cinnamon cocoa, the nose is bright and enticing. In the mouth, a midweight palate (13.5% listed alcohol) leads with juicy fruit and the winery’s signature textural elegance, all studded with bits of toasty wood and leafy herbs. Subtle tannins give a touch of bite as it finishes back where it all started—deliciously red.
Vinous (Josh Raynolds): [Text Withheld]
2015 Cristom Vineyards Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvee
An easy wine to love, Mt. Jefferson has always been the gateway drug into the Cristom lineup. Half the cost of every other Pinot Noir they offer, it has always represented the value side of Cristom. However, this year, Mt. Jefferson represents the best of Cristom, garnering the highest review from James Suckling of the five Pinot Noirs the winery made in 2015 (95pt, review text below).
This wine can no longer be described as the gateway into Cristom’s house style—rather, it has now become the definition of the winery’s house style. Made from 75% estate fruit, the rest is sourced from winery partners that Cristom has been working with for over 25 years. After multiple tastings of every lot of the 2015 vintage, Mt. Jefferson is the blend that winemaker Steve Doerner and team craft first every year. Whole cluster fermented with native yeast, aged in French oak (12% new) for 12 months, this wine gets the hallmark Cristom treatment before bottling. 13.5% alcohol, it opens with everything I personally love about great Pinot Noir—especially from Oregon. It smells like the whole plant—the fruit berries, the blossoms, the stems, the leaves, and the earth that grew it—all mixed together. It’s holistic, complete even, with nothing stealing the show or missing. The palate shines with a gemstone minerality, blanketed with spiced fruit and bramble, showing off structure with brilliant acidity and silky yet firm tannins.
James Suckling: [Text Withheld]
Both of these Pinots would be perfect pairings for the dinner table, with brilliant acid structure to complement all types of food. They would also be just fine on their own, because you don’t need an extra reason to drink delicious Oregon Pinot Noir.