TN: Oregon Pinot Noir

OREGON PINOT NOIR - Mark’s (11/16/2016)

Last night my tasting group met to drink some Oregon Pinot Noir. We relaxed out $20 to $40 price range for this just a bit. The wines were served blind over the course of a couple of hours. An assortment of cheeses were served. I tend to do 2 or 3 Oregon tastings each year. To me Oregon remains an area that straddles the middle ground between rich California and Burgundy wines quite well. Vintages do matter in Oregon, if not for quality (and I think it does matter for quality as well), then certainly for style. That said, there are, like most areas, a wide range of producers making a wide range off styles. Fwiw, here are my notes on the wines, though ymmv. I did try to indicate where I deviated from the group.

  • 2011 Reverie Roussanne - USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
    Light gold in color. Interesting nose. I thought a Chard/Sauvignon Blanc blend. Certainly not Roussane. Slightly grassy, slight pineapple. Even some floral tones. On the palate, a honey note. Slightly flabby. Turns a bit grassy and then finished with some heat. An interesting wine. I thought (although the group seemed to disagree) that this was past prime and old, at least before the unveiling. Seeing that it was Rousanne, maybe not. Good wine and interesting. No idea on pricing, but I suspect it was not cheap. (87 pts.)

  • 2009 King Estate Pinot Noir Oregon - USA, Oregon
    Ruby/brown in color. The nose has raspberries and slight milk chocolate notes. On the palate, tart raspberries. Interesting wine and I had I now known it was Pinot, I might have guessed Grenache. It was a bit of an outlier, but all that said, it was not a bad wine. (88 pts.)
  • 2013 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Very nice showing for this wine. Screw capped. Ruby in color. Light cherries on the nose. With air, some dark cherry notes emerge. On the palate, the initial taste is powdered cherry drink mix but with air and time, a very nice sour cherry note emerges. Good balance. Nice acidity. While this did not have tremendous depth, there is some but it drinks really nicely right now. Given the screw top, it might hold a bit, but I would probably drink sooner than later. (90 pts.)
  • 2012 Lemelson Vineyards Pinot Noir Stermer Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Ruby in color. The nose is very tight. It eventually started to give up some dark cherry fruit. Also some toast/smoke. On the palate, this is still tight. Silky texture. Pretty tannic especially for a Pinot. Dark cherry fruit. This kept improving over the night. I would hold a few years. It should improve by a point or two. (91 pts.)
  • 2013 Lemelson Vineyards Pinot Noir Thea’s Selection - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    I liked this far more than the group who had 8/9. Its very similar to the 12 Stermer vineyard but much more open and accessible. I don’t see it improving much more from her. Dark cherries on the nose with noticeable spice/smoke/oak. On the palate, there are some tannins here. Cherries and dark cherry fruit. Not as deep but nice texture. Drinking quite well right now IMO. (91 pts.)
  • 2014 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    I had this in last but some in the group liked it a bit more than I. It also got 2 first place votes. I was told there was one older wine in the group and was sure this was it. It was the youngest wine of the night. It was pale ruby with significant browning and flat not bright. The nose has a fair amount of funk with some diluted thin cherries. It tastes old and thin to me with some tart cherries. Most of the group seemed to think it was an old wines and those who liked it, enjoyed how well it had held up. An odd wine. I will say, from the time it was poured to the end of the evening it kept getting better in the glass. Curious as to others take and if this bottle was representative. As I said, this was a love it or hate it wine. (86 pts.)
  • 2012 Sineann Pinot Noir Reserve Resonance Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Disclaimer - The owner winemaker Peter Rossback and I have been friends since our Purdue days in the mid-1970’s. I own a lot of Sineann and tend to put it into our Oregon tastings. There are many reasons a wine wins blind tastings. Certainly being one of the bigger wines on the table helps. In any event, Sineann almost always scores the highest in our blind tastings. Over the years, we have included almost all of the top Oregon wines and Sineann almost always wins. As I say, I am biased, but to me, this is a wine that flies under the radar. Sadly, this vineyard was bought after this vintage by Jadot and Sineann no longer makes a Resonance Pinot. We shall see in future years how well Peter’s wines show with other vineyards that he uses.

As for this wine, it was mine and the groups WOTN with 7/9 palcing it in their top 3. Ruby/purple in color. The nose has cherries and cherry juice. A bit tight but opens quickly. On the palate, it is the deepest, most complex wine on the table. It has a modern feel to it (not that the term makes much sense in an Oregon context). Big, juicy, cherry and dark cherry fruit. A hint of sour fruit. Slight tannins. Very clean. Long finish. Delicious. I think this wine has a twenty years left under its glass stopper. I say that based on how well the 02’s are drinking now under cork, and the vineyard and the vintage. I only have a couple left so I doubt I will know. I will say, if you like the bigger side of Oregon Pinot, track down an older vintage of this. (94 pts.)

  • 2005 Cristom Pinot Noir Louise - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola - Amity Hills
    Really nice showing for this wine. Ruby in color. This was the oldest bottle on the table but it drank quite fresh. Very distinct wine. The nose has cherries with a green herbal note (maybe tarragon). On the palate, the green note continues but turns more rosemary. Lots of cherry fruit. still some tannins. Also a bit of root beer. The green note is very interesting an enjoyable as a foil to the red fruit. Nice finish. This is going strong and seems to be in no danger. Pretty impressive. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
    Another wine that seemed to improve all night. ruby in color but looking a bit flat. The nose starts out quite old and dusty but with air it picks up some cherry fruit. On the palate, this has ripe/sweet red fruits. It turns tart and then a bit clipped on the finish. I wonder if this bottle was off a bit or not, just slightly. In any event, at 8 years old, I thought it might have been a bit better although it was very good to outstanding. (90 pts.)
  • 2013 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    I liked this better than the group, but as we revealed the wines, this was our groups last place wine. Quite a disappointment I thought. The only wine with no first, second or third place votes. As I said, I thought it to be very good, I might have hoped for more as well. For around $40, it should be. The nose is tight with a bit of dust. With air it shows some nice cherry juice. On the palate, more sour cherries. Some Coke-Cola notes. It does have a nice complexity to it. Unlike most of the wines though, it seemed to fall off or shut down with air. I see no reason to suspect either of those options, so I wouldn’t know what to recommend on ageing. (90 pts.)

As I said in my Sineann note, these wines fly under the radar. The base Oregon bottling is a great value. Service is excellent. I would certainly recommend getting on their list. They make so many different wines from Oregon and Washington. Always delicious.
Posted from CellarTracker

Great notes. Thanks for sharing.

I opened a bottle of that 08 BP Estate Reserve this weekend. It was pretty much just as you described. Closed at first and then fleshing out with air. I liked the core flavors it showed but in the context (4 of us each got a nice pour) we didn’t really give it time to see where it could have gone.

I could be completely wrong but I thought glass caps were AWFUL for aging. Sadly Cristom used glass caps for their fantastic chards and they don’t last more than 3 years…Thank god they’re no longer doing that.

Nice notes and glad to see Sinnean in there, i’ve always liked their stuff and they’re interesting to me because of how much variation I notice.

I think the green notes you’re getting on that '05 Cristom come from stem inclusion?

I think there are different types of glass. So far, from my limited experience, they seem to age slower than cork but faster than stelvin. I think Sineann started back in 2005 or so.

Thanks for the notes Loren. Tough competition for that $20 Patty Green! The 08 Belle Pente Estate does require time to open as I recall. I tried it a year ago and had some minor quibbles about oak and heat. Looks like it’s time to revisit.

For the robust style of Pinot that Peter makes at Sineann, I don’t believe anyone in OR does it better. It truly is a shame that he lost access to Resonance.


Loren, thanks for your notes. It always fun reading Oregon tasting notes.

I’m curious about the Patty Green wine. As the fine folks at PG make several wines a vintage, the bottle could have been a few different labels. I’m thinking that most folks, including me, are assuming it’s the Reserve label, but it may have been the Estate, WV, Berserker Cuvee, etc. I seem to recall that PG does a WV for the NW market.

During our visits to Oregon wine country, Brian O’Donnell at Belle Pente has suggested that the 2008’s needed 10 years. I’m holding steady with my few remaining 2008’s for 2018. Time will tell.

Thanks again.


Thanks for the notes, Loren, I’m trying to get more into Oregon Pinot lately and it’s good to see a lot of side-by-sides. Funnily enough I had a similar issue with a Drouhin Oregon shutting down with air a while back and thought I just got a bad bottle. It was crazy, after being open for an hour or so it just fell off a cliff but was tasty up until that point.