TN: Some Oregon Pinots

(From Nov 08) Sat in with Rusty Gaffney (the Prince of Pinot) for a a single blind tasting of 12 Pinot Noirs from Oregon. These were my own impressions:

Chehalem Mountains -

2006 ArborBrook Vineyards, 777 Block - nose of dark fruit, some citrus, lots of spice, with hints of tree bark and dried leaf. Slightly peppery on the palate, with some earthy flavors and an overall soft and sweet mouthfeel.

2004 Laura Volkman Vineyards, Jacob Estate - darker and deeper than the previous wine, with more earthy tones, as well. Excellent balance on the palate, with a citrusy note and a long aftertaste. (We remarked to ourselves that this wine seemed to be picking up a wet cardboard note with time (as with a corked wine), but it seemed to come and go and we were ultimately undecided about it.)

Dundee Hills -

2006 Et Fille Maresh Vineyard - nose is infused with brown spice and roasted coffee from its cooperage. Flavors of wet leaf and earthy notes add to the cherry and raspberry fruit. Moderate mothfeel, good flavors, balance and finish.

2006 Domaine Drouhin - nose of wild raspberry along with what seemed like plenty of acids. Tasty cherry and dried floral flavors, medium long finish, good balance. Deemed higher in acids that the preceeding wines, as well as more of an elegant style.

Eola-Amity Hills -

2006 Torii Mor Eola-Amita Hills Select - fascinating mixture of cherry, cinnamon, and feral qualities. Very nice balance of acids and fruit, tasty entry, with lots of mouthfeel and presence on the palate, continuing past mid-palate through finish. Nice!

2006 Cristom Eola-Amity Hills, Eileen Vnyd - first wiff gives off a big whole cluster fermentation scent along with the requisite complexities of leaf and earth. Sweet fruit on the palate, but the whole cluster note also carries through, with a full and rich finish.

McMinnville -

2006 Brittan Vineyards, Basalt Block - pushing the black fruit spectrum in the nose, along with roasted meat, and touch of sweetness. Seems a bit cloying in mouthfeel, with a slight sweet floral quality interrupting the dark fruit. Nice balance and tasty finish.

2006 Raptor Ridge, Meredith Mitchell Vnyd - nose of dark fruit, stagnant water, rose stem, and a whole cluster fermentation scent. Sweeter in mouthfeel than nose would indicate with a trace of bitterness at mid-palate and very long finish. (Disclaimer: I seem to find less to like in this producer’s wines. And yet, there was something fascinatingly complex about this wine.)

Ribbon Ridge -

2006 Patricia Green Cellars Estate - earthy, yet very fruit forward i the nose. Less sweet in taste than those so far, with a slightly tart bing cherry quality. Very good balance and finish. This wine is almost Hirsch-like in its blaance and acids, and therefore almost more Californian than Oregonian - not that there is anything wrong with that.

2005 Beaux Freres, Beaux Freres Vnyd - nose of black and red fruit, spices and floral notes. Big in mouthfeel, with a decided sweet-sour mouthfeel that practically anaesthetizes the palate, and morphs in to an acidis and hot finish that seems fall apart. Oddly, this was a wine that seemed to say “hello,” only to give you a swift boot in the rear.

Yamhill-Carleton District -

2006 Soter, Beacon Hill - major whole cluster fermentation qualities - both in the nose and throughout the wine. Ordinarily, this may have been a problem, but the wine seems built on this foundation, and the fruit, balance and spices seem to carry it off well.

2006 Resonance Vineyard - light whole cluster scent in the nose, with additional scents of orange zest, floral and roasted meats aromas - so far so good, until a touch of brett-like stink shows up. Very reluctant flavors on the palate, with a rather clunky balance, and a finish that seems to fall apart.

Great notes, thanks;

My guess is that the 05 BF still needs 3-5 years in the bottle to really show its best. Will be interesting

Interesting on the Soter. I have this in my cellar. Haven’t touched any yet, figure to give them at least a year + before opening any.

Don’t think I’ve ever had an “aged” Beaux, but I would definitely hold the Soter for more time to let all that stuff integrate.

No Argyle? [cray.gif]

One of the first great Oregon PNs my wife and I enjoyed was the 2002 Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir. We went through a few of them and for the longest time could never source another until recently I got a magnum of it from the Argyle library. [dance.gif] [highfive.gif]

I’m pretty sure Rusty must’ve Bogarted the Argyle before I got there.


Recently had a 98 and 99 BF Vineyard. Both were drinking very very well. Excellent wines. I believe that the 02’s - 05’s are all ageworthy. I have the 06’s in my cellar also, but I have not opened any yet, so can’t make a judgement.

I also really like the Soter. I can’t wait for the 2007’s.

Philip I really don’t know what to say. I tasted the 2005 and 2006 in November and found them wonderfully complex. I’m not a fan of 2006 in general but I really liked the Soter. I’ll get back down there in a few weeks and see if Tony will let me taste some of the new stuff.

I’d still let them sleep for a year or so. He really doesn’t make a “drink me know” style. Especially the 2005. No hurry on these.

Thanks for the notes. I have a sole bottle of the Resonance. That is the first note I have seen. Do you know if this was a one time bottling or are they going to continue to bottle their own wines too?

I agree with Phillip Franks. My impressions from tastings at the Soter winery of the 05s were that they needed time in the bottle. Probably minimum of two years. I haven’t tried their 06s yet. They are resting also in the cellar. I will probably drink those before the 05s.

I don’t know this label myself, Loren. Due to his PN publication, Rusty often gets into many lesser-known labels, and I imagine this was something he hadn’t seen before either. I’ll ask Rusty if this was a one-off, or…

Rusty says: “This is a newer producer who will be releasing wine each vintage - not a one-off.”

Kevin and Carla are continuing to make their own Resonance releases. Awesome wines, and I was surprised to hear of an off bottle. Their website is

I don’t think I have had any BF that was balanced, young or aged. In a way they wine, at least in years prior and before they changed things up a bit a vintage or two ago, reflects Parker’s palate preference for Pinot to a T. And not for the good, I should point out. Way too much oak, way too little acidity. This has been done in a number of blind tastings. What Eric is describing is spot on, initial great impression (fortified by oak) that immediately slides down the hill since there is no balance in the wine.

One reason they have changed a number of things in '07.

I was pretty much with you until the last sentence. You know they changed things . . . how?

By hiring someone with a different winemaking vision and changing their oak program. You’ll see less oak in the future and more balance.

Let me repeat the question. You know this . . . how? This “someone with a different winemaking vision” holds what position and who is it? They’ve changed their oak program exactly how, according to your inside information?

See, Greg, here’s my problem. Mike Etzel has said publicly, on more than a few occasions and once in my presence, that he’d make the wine differently if he had a different brother-in-law. Yet you expect me to believe that Parker, Etzel and Roy have suddenly “seen the light” and hired some anonymous person to completely overhaul the winemaking and the oak program? On the surface that simply doesn’t wash. Mike is still listed as the winemaker on the website.

Dave has a block of Mt. Eden clone that should have come into production in either 2007 or 2008. I’m really looking forward to this. What’s interesting is that his wines were, the last I knew, made by Laurent Montalieu and they don’t reflect Laurent’s style, but rather Dave’s preferences.

I’ll need to dig through some info to find the snippet, but I KNOW they hired someone about a year ago. I just don’t pay much attention to what they do or say, not a label I really keep track of and had I known that you’ll need proof of that I would have kept the article, for sure [dash1.gif] I simply remembered precisely because it was BF news and that registered with me. I really don’t care what they say, last time Parker and I were discussing honesty of wine labels and what brett is Parker publicly stated that his bottle of Pegau was whistle clean (talking of brett) while winemaker/owner of Pegau said that ALL their wines have brett, just 20 minutes after his post. Something that anyone with half a palate knew, Parker excepted of course. I guess she is the liar, Parker is not.

Do you really expect them to list a winemaker other than Etzel? Common on. If you believe what Parker and Co. say, still, I am not sure what else I can add. Remember, to Parker image is everything.

I don’t think the changes will be radical, but there will be changes. Enough for serious Pinot geeks to start paying attention to the label? Not sure of that, but I’ve seen stranger things happen.

Well, that was enlightening. NOT!

For your edification, I have ALWAYS been critical of BF. I don’t like the style and I certainly don’t like the price, but you’re making some pretty serious allegations here that you don’t seem to be able to back up with anything more substantive than, “I think I read it somewhere”. Spare me the sarcasm about needing proof. I can claim you don’t ship wine when you say you will but without corroboration it’s just something I made up.

FWIW Greg, this is NOT the “Trash Parker At Every Opportunity Board”. Everyone knows you have issues with the man and he with you. The Wine Spectator Board exists if you feel the need to vent on that subject. It’s an art form there and I’m sure they’d be happy to have you.

What’s interesting is that I hear your wife’s a peach and you’re a fun guy . . . in person.