A Few Oregon Winery Visits Before the Big Memorial Day Weeke

Over the last couple of days I stopped by a couple of local wineries to get a better gauge on 2008.

I tasted through all the Pinots at Westrey. All were excellent, with the Justice and the Willamette Valley being the most approachable right now. I know people tend to want SVD wines, but the Reserve Pinot is fantastic. I also tasted the two Chardonnays, and I loved them - both were an interesting blend of old Draper clone wine from Oracle and new Dijon clone wine from Justice. All the wines are great values.

I stopped by at Winderlea over the weekend and tasted both the 2007s and 2008s. I think this is one of the best vineyards in Oregon (formerly Goldschmidt), consistently producing outstanding wine in the hands of a number of winemakers, and nothing has changed - the wines are still great. Of the two 2007s we tasted, I preferred the Estate over the Reserve. Among the two 2008s, I thought that the Reserve was a step up from the regular. As I discuss below, this was a good opportunity to compare the more feminine 2007s with the more masculine 2008s.

I also stopped by Eyrie to see if they were pouring the 2008 yet. Nope, but they were pouring the 2008 Black Cap which was superb - well balanced with intense black cherry flavors. Jason released the 2006 Eyrie Reserve before releasing the 2005 Reserve, because the former wine was much more open for business. The 2006 is now gone so they poured the 2005 - great depth and concentration, very balanced, just superb from start to finish, but really tight - something to throw in the cellar and forget about for at least five years, and 10 years would be better.

My overall impression of 2008 from these wines and others I’ve had in the last couple of weeks is that many of the wines need serious aging before they’ll really hit their stride. They have real depth and concentration, but I don’t think I’d touch most of the higher end wines until 2015. The other thing I noticed is that all of the Dundee Hill wines I’ve tried are more “masculine” than I would typically expect. I usually expect Dundee Hills wines to have a strong sweet cherry component that strikes me as being more feminine. It is something that distinguishes Dundee Hills from other Oregon AVAs (and most other New World Pinots I’ve had). In 2008 this component is somewhat subdued, with the black cherry and other black fruit aromas and flavors coming more to the front.

The overall perspective is much appreciated. Thanks for posting. Have you had an opportunity to taste many '08 Pinots from the Eola Hills AVA?

I fully admit that I’m a Dundee Hills junkie, and I focus my attention that way. I’ve had Westrey’s Justice (there’s a thread out there that talks about how good this is) and a few other Eola Hills wines, but probably not enough to reach any overall conclusions.

Thanks. Any first hand knowledge is always helpful for those of us stuck half way across the country. I was hoping to get to the Northwest this spring, but couldn’t make it happen. Maybe July.

Great post Rick. I also was at Winderlea this weekend and my thoughts are in complete agreement with yours. Winderlea is one of my favorite producers in Oregon. Usually, they are very Chambolle like to me. Feminine, red fruits with beautiful balance. Great silky mouthfeel. I agree the 07 Estate is spectacular and out shines the 07 Reserve at this time. It seems to have closed up a bit, but will bet anther year in bottle will change that. Also agree that the 08’s are much bigger than ‘usual’. Darker fruits and bigger mouthfeel. I too, prefer the 08 Reserve over the Estate. The oak seems a bit more dominant and a bit more balanced. I havnt tasted the Westry 08 yet, but anxious to do so. Off to Soter, Shea, Carlton tasting room and Trisaetum this weekend. Will post thoughts.

Rick and/or Roger,

Did either of you try the Chard at Winderlea? It had been recommended to me but I did not get a chance to try it during my trip.

Thoughts/opinions/notes would be appreciated

Although I love Winderlea, and Bill and Donna are some of my favorite people in the valley…I would have to say that the chard is not the reason I like them so much. A bit oaky and lacking fruit/ balance to my palate. Also there is an ester that I smell that I don’t particularly care for. The pinots are great however!


I am a big fan of the Chards coming out of Cameron, Eyrie, Westrey, and Arterberry Maresh, and was told the Winderleas were from the same mold.

Thanks for your input.

Add Crowley to your list…One of my favorites…Of course he learned from John Paul…