TN: To decant or not? 2006 Pinot Noir and a few more


Yesterday, a group of us got together to watch playoff football and drink some wine. After doing a 2006 Oregon Pinot tasting last month, we wondered if we should be decanting. That became the core of this tasting. We added a couple of others plus a Cal Pinot for “control”. The wines were all served at the same temp. The decanted wines were decanted at 9:30am. They were double decanted back at 12:30 pm with the cork left out. The pop and pour pinots were opened at 1:15 and all the wines served immediately. All wines were served blind and each wine had its own glass. We unveiled at half time. Sometime in the second half other wines started to appear. The wines were consumed until about 4:30 although I kept going until the second game was over at around 8:15.

Conclusions. It just depends. Each wine is different. Each drinker is different. Heck, each bottle is different. I will say, that in the absence of any prior knowledge or facts, I would decant about an hour as a safe middle ground. Of course, we didn’t try that nor did we try the slow-o method.
A starter. Served blind, a few guessed Muscadet correctly. No one was close on the vintage.

  • 1995 Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Le L D’Or - France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine
    Golden in color. The nose is very pretty with aromas of limes and crushed shells. On the palate, it is a bit soft/flabby at first. it improves with air, but never has that bite I really like about Muscadets. Otoh, it is very complex and that is the only clue to how old it is. Nice finish. (89 pts.)

  • 2006 Sineann Pinot Noir Resonance Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    This was my favorite of all the Pinot’s. This was decanted. The nose is big but not over done. Lots of black cherries with some earthiness. On the palate, this has a lot going on. Lots of fruit, but not a bomb. Some layering. Held up easily until the bottle was emptied. (92 pts.)
  • 2006 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Not decanted. The nose has black cherries with a slightly candied note that blew off with air. Soft and not as ripe as some, this took some time to open up (maybe an hour) and then showed very well. Some complexity, great mouth feel, and still easy to drink. (91 pts.)
  • 2006 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Decanted. I slightly preferred the non-decanted version of this, but really a draw. The nose had an odd almost green olive note with plenty of earthy cherries. On the palate, this has cherries and bitter cherries (in a good way). Layered and while soft, just enough acidity to keep it together. Perhaps an hour in a decanter would have been the ideal amount. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Falstaff Road Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Not decanted. This was bigger than most of the other wines. Funny, how people talk about these (and Rhys) wines as Burgundian but next to Oregon wines they are easy to pick out as Californian. I think most people who knew there was a non-Oregon wine in the mix id this as a likely suspect. Lots of black cherries on the nose. The palate is juicy although tight. With air it showed some good black cherries. Nice finish. (91 pts.)
  • 2006 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Ribbon Ridge - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
    Not decanted. A very nice showing for a winery that I have mixed results from (as one might expect given the large number of wines they make). Cherries and cherry powder on the nose. A much more feminine wine than most on the table. Delicate cherry notes. Complex and given this was not decanted, I would not hold these much longer. In a very good spot right now though. (91 pts.)
  • 2006 Sineann Pinot Noir Resonance Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Not decanted. I clearly preferred the decanted version of this. About 6 hours after we started, this was still getting better as I drained the bottle. Initially, this has a similar nose if less of everything. On the palate, the fruit was just not showing as much and in its place I found some tarragon notes. While it had a nice structure, the lack of fruit made it come across as thin. Now, that might be good for some, but for me, I had this around 88 points on opening and about 90 points when we unveiled. It was probably higher than that later in the evening but for purposes of this tasting, this wine, IMO, needs air or time. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Very solid wine. Not decanted. This has tart cherries on the nose. The palate is a bit simpler than most, but still very nice. Cherries mostly. Not showing maturity although it didn’t really improve either. This is screw capped which probably helps slow the ageing. Not sure if it will get better though. (88 pts.)
  • 2006 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Falstaff Road Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Decanted. So on this one, I thought the decanting hurt it. Did it shut it down or did it give it too much air? Who knows. There was not much nose and the palate seemed very monolithic. Some nice cherries. It was a solid Pinot and I guessed it was the Alesia, but showing no complexity. The crowd seemed to agree with me although i think at least one person liked this one a lot. (88 pts.)

I guess we had short attention spans as we needed a few more wines to get through.

  • 2008 Lillian Winery Syrah - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
    Pop and poured, this was a nice showing. Purple in color. The nose shows black raspberries, grilled meats and some black pepper. Lush texture. On the palate, this is delicious and has some tight layering. Despite its youth there is plenty to offer right now, although i think i would prefer a few years in the cellar to unwind. (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Keplinger Caldera - USA, California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County
    Pop and poured. This is also very young but drinking quite well right now. Inky purple in color. The nose has black raspberries, lots of minerality and black pepper. Lush texture but a bit more acidity than the Lillian which was much appreciated after so many wines. Nice finish. (92 pts.)
  • 2002 Bodegas Alto Moncayo Aquilon - Spain, Aragón, Campo de Borja
    I have not had this since release. Not the greatest vintage, this wine is still going strong. A few of us did wonder how Garnacha can make a black wine. In any event, the nose has plums, raspberries, and vanilla. On the palate, this is not as big as I was expecting. It is youthful with a nice complexity. Juicy texture. Nice balance. Mostly black raspberries but some dark cherries. Nice finish. (92 pts.)
  • 2006 Cardinal Cusanus Stiftswein/St. Nikolaus-Hospital Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
    A very nice wine. I would have preferred a bit more acidity but even so, it was outstanding. Lots of lemons and some wet rock notes. Very clean. Pretty sweet. Long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 1972 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    This was dark brown and pretty much shot. The cork fell in upon opening. Still some things going on, but very thin and lacking. Oh well. NR (flawed)

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