We drank a lot of wine this summer—some great, but most good. For the first time in a while, I had little interest in taking risks. Schedules were insane and time was precious—my tolerance for sifting through bargain fails to find the occasional gem was fleeting at best. I found myself relying more on repeats and old favorites. When I ventured off the plantation, my flags were planted in New Zealand and Oregon and my pleasure receptors remained properly topped-off.
In the Pinot Noir category, 2 wines stood out as the best of the summer—and they happen to be neighbors.
And they are:
1. 2008 · Vista Hills · Rollins · Pinot Noir · Willamette Valley, OR
I am attempting to not sound like a wine shill while I offer yet another endorsement for a Vista Hills Pinot Noir. Because it’s fairly unusual for readers to hang on every review as it comes in, I am going to use this opportunity to recap.
I receive no samples or perks from Vista Hills. I am a legit club member, customer, and fan. An invitation to drop by the tasting room last March the day before we were due to leave on our trip to northern Oregon was the start of a solid relationship between C+C and Vista Hills. We have been fast friends since!
My first thought as I drove up into the Dundee Hills past White Rose, Domaine Drouhin, and Domaine Serene was ‘those are some serious neighbors, how have I never heard of this place?’
From my notebook:
The most chiseled V. Hills Pinot I’ve tasted so far—complex, dark, and intensely structured. Ample cherry, apple, and plum on the back end.
Dusty nose with a slight black tea and Asian spice bitterness offset with a hint of warm maple and chocolate. The surgical edge to the fruit, spice and mineral gives way to a marshmallow-like mouth presence as the hours pass. Beautifully tailored but teeming with layers of flavor.
2007 · Domaine Serene · Yamhill Cuvée · Pinot Noir · Willamette Valley, OR
From my notebook:
Aromatic nuances of fog and roses, a supple bounty of berries, pitted fruit, and citrus, and a burned-down campfire or well-used hearth room. Fresh, rain-washed raspberry, brown sugar, orange peel and almond paste on the palate with a delicious sweet/savory rivalry of sea salt and caramel.
Exceptionally balanced and assuredly lengthy—honed tannins that will likely be evolving past its successors. You may find this wine triggers your chewing mechanism.
The Yamhill Cuvée is probably the most accessible Pinot in the Serene lineup—it’s also the cheapest at about $35. I had a glass of the Evenstad Reserve at a tasting once—it was delicious, but at $55 it’s out of my league.
The Rollins Estate, sadly is long gone—remember, only 95 cases were produced, but I’m sure it will be back next year. [In a meaningless comparison, about 9 million cases of Yellow Tail crown our shores annually. That’s 108 million bottles!] Some of Vista Hills’ Pinot Noir can be purchased directly off their website, but it’s cheaper per bottle to become a club member. You will receive 3 shipments of three bottles per year and the shipping on your first shipment is free if you mention us!