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This Week's Tasting

New Oregon Pinots
May 31, 2017

For this tasting I picked my favorites at different price levels from the 92 Oregon Pinots I've tasted this year so far. Some are 2013s, an ugly duckling vintage whose wines squawked shrill and tart at the outset. But many are growing into sleek swans, not so weighty as other recent vintages, but anyway that is not the point of Pinot.



A white for an aperitif, Pinot Noir's cousin, Pinot Gris. It is SO easy to get Pinot Gris wrong. Some are too flat, some too sharp,  Cooper Mountain's 2015, is just right, dry and lively, freshly peachy and full

Cooper Mountain  is both organic and biodynamic, both expensive methods. Their prices are amazingly low for both process and quality, including the 2013 Pinot Noir a breezily friendly rendition of Pinot.

2013s got faint praise from the critics two years ago. I got to see what wasn't evident at the time. Balance is the the hallmark of the vintage, together with a finesse less usual in New World wines.

Colene Clemens, high up in the Chehalem Mountains, makes only 4,000 cases of wine a year from estate grown fruit. Steve Goff, the winemaker, learned his craft at Beaux Freres. His 2013 Margo is smooth and poised with the beginnings of the secondary character of maturity.

J Christopher is the partnership of Ernst Loosen and bass player Jay Somers who is as much a virtuoso in the cellar as he is on the strings. Jay's 2012 Dundee  cuvee ,a blend of five vineyard sites, is an adroit synthesis of discrete structure and subtle underlying fruit. It is mellow more than struting but is gratifying for that.

Then two 2014s, a bolder warmer vintage.  Cristom makes a deeper fuller more rustic style. Their Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir adds a lifted grace to its deep fruit however, making for a Pinot  that is satisfying on more than one level.

Scott Shull , owner-winemaker at Chehalem  Mountains Raptor Ridge, is very serious about his winemaking. I liked a number of his wines, but the way he evoked the distinctive smoke and stone character of Shea Vineyard grapes in 2014 version captured my palate. The balance of the wine is clear, without to me any hint of austerity. Lovely stuff.



2015 Cooper Mountain Pinot GrisOrganic; Aroma: heady lightly fragrant, reserved, flinty; Mouth: juicy fresh rounded fruit, sweet peach and citrus, long, good acidity, ripe; Very Good Plus 15.99; Mixed Case, 14.39; Case, 13.59



2013 Cooper Mountain Pinot Noir Organic; Aroma: deep plummy, dense, clear plum; Mouth: smooth deep notes, clean bright acid medium bodied, fresh, long; Very Good Plus 23.99; Mixed Case, 21.59; Case, 20.39

2013 Colene Clemens Pinot Noir Margo; Color: light red black; Aroma: very fresh, saline, an ash note, fine, softly edged; Mouth: clean very pretty fine again, smooth, the beginnings of older herbal fruit, nice finely pretty, fullish in the mouth very nicely balanced, full; Very Good - Excellent 38; Mixed Case, 34.2; Case, 32.3

2012 J Christopher Dundee Hills Pinot Noir; Color: Medium dark ; Aroma: Heady dense overripe  fleshy rare dense; Mouth: Juicy rare rich clean firm. Dense low toned spicy acidity  grainy acids long; Very Good - Excellent

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate "a focused and vibrant bouquet with clean redcurrant and black plum fruit, with just a slight tinny quality coming through. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit, understated on the entry, but very nicely balanced with a focused and elegant, feminine finish. There is a sense of suaveness about this Pinot Noir that ticks all the boxes."

$43; Mixed Case, 38.7; Case, 36.55

2014 Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvee; Color: light red pretty rather fine; Aroma: pretty rather lifted, fresh, herbal full; Mouth: clean smooth, plummy fine acid rich textured, firm underlying tannins; Very Good Plus

Josh Reynolds, Vinous - "Bright red. Forward, spice-accented aromas of fresh red berries, cola and lavender are joined by mineral and allspice nuances that emerge with aeration. Sweet and incisive in the mouth, offering juicy raspberry and floral pastille flavors and a touch of smokiness. Finishes silky and very long, with repeating red fruit character; gentle tannins come in slowly to contribute grip. ...shows quite a light touch for the vintage."

 $29.99; Mixed Case, 26.99; Case, 25.49

2014 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Shea; Color: light red black; Aroma: elegant fine low toned, nutty, full; Mouth: fine acidity. subtle, fine elegant, deep notes, fine acid, long rich & sweet dense, bright acid, full, black cherry; Excellent

Burghound "somewhat somber though notably more complex with its spicy array of briar, plum, dark berries and earth hints. Here too there is a lovely sense of vibrancy to the delicious, round and generously proportioned medium-bodied flavors that also exhibit a mild touch of austerity on the lingering and balanced finale."

$50; Mixed Case, 45; Case, 42.50


5-31 Oregon Pinot Case: Special, two each of the above wines - $344

5-31 Oregon Pinot Pack: Special, one each of the above wines - $182


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           - Len Rothenberg


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