Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A 2000 Vintage Oregon Pinot Noir

At the risk of being predictable, or boring, here is another Oregon pinot noir review.  In case anyone had any doubts, I really like pinot noir and I am quite enamored of those from the Willamette Valley.
Cristom has always been one of my favorite Oregon producers.  The wines are precise and full of flavor, they are complex but drinkable and the aromas almost always prove entrancing.  Oh, and I can actually buy some in Louisiana.  I do not see single vineyards here very often so the bottle of Jessie Vineyard 2000 I found before leaving Portland to return to New Orleans excited me.
Despite the stellar wines and reputation of Cristom, they do not appear on everyone's radar.  They should.  Located in Eola-Amity Hills just north-northwest of Salem, Cristom enjoys a spectacular location.  Neighbors include other favorites of mine - St. Innocent, Bethel Heights and Witness Tree, Evesham Wood is also in the area.
Interestingly, the 2000 label only carries the Willamette Valley designation because Eola-Amity Hills did not become an AVA until 2006.
They began planting Jessie's Vineyard in 1994.  It is very steep and "a challenge to farm."  Five different soil types appear in the vineyard and this leads to amazing complexity in the bottle.  The nose blossomed immediately but the finish was tight and a bit tannic for the first 30-40 minutes.  (2000 was an outstanding vintage in Oregon that got overlooked due to California's higher profile lackluster results.  The wines have weight but some also have hard tannin that has never integrated well.)  Fortunately, this bottle came around beautifully and drank well for three hours, then it was empty.  There was a meaty quality on the palate and lovely deep fruit.  The wine expanded in the mouth and bloomed on the finish.  A slight browning on the edge told me it was not a current release but nothing in the color showed the wine to be as old as it was.  This is a wine with plenty of life left in it and I wish I had a few more bottles!
The 2010 vintage just got featured on the cover of Decanter magazine. So, it may be harder to find, but the Cristom store has some for $50 a bottle.  It will be another winner that will stand the test of time.

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