Oregon is on the brain, as is Pinot Noir. Corks + Caftans will be northwest bound in less than a week. The itinerary is still coming together but Lange, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Stoller, and Genius Loci are looking promising so far. For me (I can’t speak for Carey, of course), this trip is about meeting some of the people behind the wine I’ve written about. Those who grew it, picked it, made it, sold it, and wrote about it—there is a big support system, to say the least. To just know the wines is an incomplete picture—it’s time to shake some hands.
There is not a lot of value in Pinot Noir, this is no secret. It’s a difficult grape to grow, characteristically vulnerable to nature in almost every way associated with grape vines. The prices reflect this, and if you’re like me—driven to find those $10 Spanish or Argentinean treasures, willing to give anything a shot—I believe it’s best to adjust your approach. Be more deliberate. Spend a bit more, but less often, and seek specific bottles out after doing some research. 3 crappy $10 bottles of Pinot Noir can equal one fantastic $30 bottle if you have discipline.
Both these wines were purchased at Purdy’s in Saratoga Springs for about $23 each. Both are sourced from grapes grown in Willamette Valley, Oregon, and lastly, they are both very different.
2007 · King Estate · Signature Collection · Pinot Noir · Willamette Valley, OR
Very light in the glass, nose, and on the palate. The King Estate deals in delicacy. Beautiful cranberry coloring and aromas of brown sugar, caramel, strawberry and cola. Unpretentious and understated—like many nice Pinots you almost need to aggressively swirl and slosh the gentle aromas over the top of an oversized glass.
Slaty minerals, black pepper and red fruit contribute to an effortless and subtle palate. Hints of white chocolate reminds me of the Willamette Valley Vineyards Founders’ Reserve Pinot Noir. Wonderful on the second night.
2008 · Pali Wine Co., Lompoc, CA · Alphabets · Pinot Noir · Willamette Valley, OR
Mixed red and black fruit on the palate—cranberry, black berry, and cherry. Meaty undertones, a quality that reminds me of ground sirloin. Peppery characteristics on the nose and tongue leaves a slight tingle on the back end. A Pinot with a good pulse and hefty flesh.
I was able to put together the bulk of Pali’s 2005 vintage for a great price, so I will be excited to see how the different regions they produce Pinot Noir from (Russian River Valley, Santa Rita Hills, and Willamette Valley) stack up against each other. (They are actually located in California, even though I said I have Oregon on the mind.)