TN: Old world Pinot, New world Pinot.

1999 Domaine du Château de Chorey (Germain) Beaune 1er Cru Les Vigne Franches Vieilles Vignes

Deep, almost opaque ruby red with a thick, clear rim. Very floral, with a minty-licorice tang to the nose that’s quite prominent at first. With a little air (or maybe it’s just habituation) that sharpness fades into a more expected and comforting bouquet of moist earth and bright red cherry/berry fruit. Very sensual and slippery at first, but with surprising grip in the middle and a long, bright, delicious finish. The nose is nice enough, but what pleased me most about this wine was its layered texture.

2002 Soter Pinot Noir Beacon Hill

First, a small and very poorly controlled experiment in stemware. Steve poured his first glass of Soter into the same Spiegelau Burgundy glass he used for the previous wine. In a brief internal struggle, my OCD defeated my skepticism, and I went back to the cabinet for the “proper” stem-- a Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glass. With similarly small pours, we got the same dusty black fruit and funk from both glasses, but Steve’s showed much more prominent alcohol. He took one sniff of mine, and swapped his glass for one of the Riedels.

We’ve revisited the '02 and '03 Soter Beacon Hill wines many times over the years, and although we’re not as fond of this style as we were when we loaded up on these wines, it’s been fun and educational to watch them evolve.

Deep dark garnet, and like the preceding wine, it has a thick, clear rim. The bouquet is very intense, with blackberry, cola, dark chocolate, and noticeable (but not distracting) vanilla and smoke. Despite its “big” nose, the palate is neither full nor sweet, but rather, well balanced between its still-primary flavors, lively acid, and ample tannins. We still have well over a case of these; no doubt we’ll open another in 2009, but this wine is definitely in its youth.

Did you do these side by side or one after the other?

One after the other. It’s very unusual for us to open two bottles on a weeknight, but Steve had just pulled the Soters out of storage. After the Burgundy, he was in the mood to try a different style, just for contrast.

Full disclosure: also slightly hammered.

Speak for yourself. Burrrp.

So…after having 3 great vintages of Burgundy (1993, 1999, and 2002) within the past week are you getting a better feeling on how things are aging?

Thanks for the notes. I haven’t drank many of the Soter Oregons but the ones I have tasted didn’t intrigue me. I found the 03 particularly gross. Candied and bubble gummy … but I chalked much up to the vintage.


The '02 Beacon Hill is superior to the '03 Beacon Hill in almost every way. The last '03 we opened was nothing but heat, and indeed, I blame it on the vintage too. The '02 certainly isn’t a style I’d choose now (I bought two cases upon release, when I was new to Oregon and to wine in general) but it’s remarkably well balanced for a Pinot with such a deep, dark profile and this much new oak.

I know two things with absolute certainty:

  1. We like great vintages of Burgundy.
  2. We like it even better if it’s older.

It’s fun to read your notes. Seems like you’ve had some good successes so far! I look forward to your first notes both on great wines and on the landmines out there :slight_smile:

That goes without saying.

I admire Tony but the wines are not generally in my wheelhouse.