Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Oregon 2007 Pinot Noir

I have to ask for more indulgence here. Or not. I'm guessing though that many are tired of hearing the drum beat for the overlooked 2007 vintage. Here are four more from the last few weeks. In alphabetic order...

Amity Pinot Noir 2007, Willamette Valley - Amity was founded in 1974 and is a well-established and respected producer, perhaps best know for their Gamay Noir. The grapes for this Pinot Noir come from the northern Willamette Valley. They use some estate vineyards from Yamhill County. Their estate vineyards are all certified LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) and their growers are either certified already or are working toward that goal. The color is typical 2007, red and bright with amazing clarity. Deep, red cherry fruit with some blacker bass notes on the nose along with perhaps a bit too much acidity. The palate is all silk and sensuality though leading to a finish that is light, but not weak by any stretch. The nose is opening up, and now shows better integrated fruit and acid notes with a hint of caramel, from oak. The wine is soft and pure from the instant it is poured. A slight note of earth comes with time. The wine is forward and perhaps a bit simple, but a complete pleasure to drink. $20-$25

Elk Cove Pinot Noir 2007, Willamette Valley - Also founded in 1974, this winery produces some of my favorite Pinot Noirs on the planet. I am a member of their Roosevelt Club and receive mailings throughout the year - I do this with no other winery. Their style tends toward a bigger, chewier Pinot Noir although this bottling is designed to be accessible early. Adam Goodlee Campbell allows the fruit to talk though and earthy notes are often present. I was very excited to see how the wines fared in 2007 due to their generally bigger approach. I find pretty, red cherry fruit and forest floor on the nose. Again, the purity of color is striking. Although the wine is certainly lighter than usual its bright acidity and incredible purity of flavor is striking. It is very 2007, very Pinot Noir and very Oregon. There is solid structure and breadth as one would assume with Elk Cove, but with a lighter footprint than usual. $22-$30

Rex Hill Pinot Noir 2007, Willamette Valley - A more recent arrival, founded in 1982, this winery enjoyed some wild success and then had some issues. Lynne Penner-Ash essentially put them on the map as they grew to be one of the best known wines from Oregon. She started in 1988 and left in 2001 to focus on her own label she had been producing for a few years. After her departure I felt the wines lost direction and quality suffered. In 2007, A to Z wines bought the winery and quality immediately improved. So, I looked forward to the first red release. Again, a pretty, bright color with a core of much darker fruit. The nose is deep, nearly a black cherry, that you can still 'smell' even when the wine is on your palate. Long, persistent, and focused but with some impressive depth, both for the vintage and for the wine's youth. This is really damned impressive actually, especially when taking into account some previous disappointing efforts. I like this a lot and look forward to more offerings like this one. $20-$28

Westrey Pinot Noir 2007, Willamette Valley - Amy Wesselman and David Autrey (Wes-trey) have some solid history around the area. Between them, stints at Rex Hill, Adelsheim, Cameron, and Eyrie give them good groundwork for their own label; add to that some time with Domaine Dujac in Burgundy and the pedigree is strong. Their first vintage was 1993 and they have a devout local following, especially when it comes to their own Oracle Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. There is a bit of skepticism still, due to some apparently spotty efforts in the past. My experience has been positive each time, if not glowing. The 2007 is full of dusty cherry with lovely expansion on the finish. It worked well with grilled chicken wings. The fresh, intense nose leads to impressive weight and attack. It drinks well now but has room to improve in the short term. I find this to be a regular style now, a bit tight young, not so much you wouldn't drink it, but enough to reward cellaring for about two years. $20-$25

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