A recent weekend in the Chehalem and Ribbon Ridge AVAs of Oregon has eloquently reminded me of the importance of context. My bride and tasting partner, Stephanie, and I spent two days sipping our way through 2011 and 2012 pinot noir cuvées, reserves, single vineyard selections, and 2013 futures. While critically discerning aromas and tastes at the second winery, context finally descended upon me–nearly all of these pinots rise to the realm of exceptionality.
Many wine regions, great and small, have crawled into bed with pinot noir, but nearly all have found her a coy mistress. Most fail to bring out the best in her, making instead either a simple, light table wine, or a juicier, one-dimensional slurper. Respected producers in the Willamette, however, have teased this mistress into delighting wondrously. How fortunate we are. A handful of Willamette wineries fail to inspire, but a little research will lead you to one of the plethora of noteworthy pinot producers in the valley. Take advantage, even if only for an afternoon of tasting.
- 2012 Beaux Frères Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: Always a joy when a winery’s entry-level pinot delights as much or more than single vineyard or reserve tiers. Beaux Frères has earned its acclaim. Structure, beauty, and nuanced complexity coexist.
- 2012 Chehalem Corral Creek Vineyards Pinot Noir: Blue fruits and blackberries balance well with gentle tannins. 2012 provided an abundance of heat, allowing this typically gentler vineyard to produce a larger, but still well-balanced wine.
- 2011 Trisaetum Coast Range Estate Pinot Noir: A reminder that I love elegance. In 2011, cool conditions dominated, but many outstanding wines exist despite the challenges. Add this bottle to that list. Red berries, acid, and agile weight meld delightfully.