TN: 1998 Fiddlehead Cellars Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Fascinating- a 24 year old Pinot from Oregon. Bottle looked to be in great shape. Cork soaked only about 25% and came out fully intact. A good amount of sediment in the bottle. Clear pale ruby in the glass with just a tiny touch of orange on the rim.

Nose still retains some red fruit; raspberries and fresh red cherries. Clearly made in a restrained Old World style. Plenty of tertiary notes as well, leather, saddle soap, dark damp earth. All very pleasant. But there is a bit of stinky burned rubber that coms and goes. At first, I thought it was temporary bottle funk, and did in fact diminish over an hour or so, but it re-emerged after hour 3, and stuck around for the rest of the night (bottle finished about 6 hrs).

Light and lively in the mouth. Body is light, acidity is medium, tannins are nearly all gone. Like the nose, some wonderful restrained red fruits along with leathery, earthy notes. I’m reminded of maitake mushrooms. Unfortunately, that rubber note manifests as an unpleasant bitterness that comes and goes. Finish is on the short side, but it’s a very pleasant red-fruit driven finish.

Overall, an interesting and pleasant drinking experience. The wine is not particularly complex (I’d give it a medium), and that pesky rubber note kept rearing its ugly head. But the light lively body and balance between fruit and tertiary flavors made for a lovely experience. I don’t subscribe to the adage “all that matters is what’s in the glass”, and I have no idea about the intentions of the winemaker back in the 1990s. But it’s safe to say that this wine was not intended to be opened 3000 miles and a quarter decade distant. But here it is, and it’s lovely; for that, it was a wonderful drink.


Kathy Joseph is a fantastic winemaker. Recently had some 2002 Fiddlestix from her vineyard in the Sta Rita Hills - still lovely and very much alive.