16 March, 2010

Good Pinot for about $20 Bucks. No Way. -- WAY!

As many of you know, I'm a fan of Pinot Noir. It's gentle, goes great with food and has many subtleties that I enjoy "thinking" on. Yes, sorry for the Sideways reference, but it's been that way for me since before the film.

If it's good, it's also expensive. Usually.

When the folks at Willamette Valley Vineyards  (or @willamettevv on twitter) asked to send me samples of their wines that fit in the $20dollarwine rules, I said yes, but questioned whether that was a wise idea. Typically,  good Pinot from Oregon is scarce under $30 a bottle, but I relented solely on their reputation and on what I heard from friends who judged in the SF Wine Competition about the quality of wines coming out of WVV who did quite well with their 2 Best in Class offerings.

I'm also very happy to see they are producing wine with the L.I.V.E. philosophy and sealing using cork certified by the Rainforest to Stewardship Council. I'm a fan of cork and sustainability. More on that later.

The first bottle is the 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. It's a lovely little bottle that retails for about $25. I was aged in 20% new oak and get this...was picked at between 19 and 24 brix. Yes....that's correct, 19. 19.

Say it again  - 19ºBrix. That's what I love to hear...not the silliness of folks in Santa Lucia Highlands picking Pinot at 28º. That's CRAZYTALK.

I cellared this bottle for several weeks at 54ºF and then poured from the bottle.

It's got a lovely and very subtle nose of delicate red fruit. The first from the bottle was fresh, light, lean and clean with sharp acid and I was craving a nice pork chop with herbs de provence. Mmm. The last bit of the bottle was elegant, soft, velvety....and I was craving a bit of chocolate. Mmm, again.

This is a super food wine and is the best QPR Pinot Noir I've had the pleasure of enjoying in quite some time.

Kudos to the team at WVV.

2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Retail: $25
Grade: A

Next was the 2008 Whole Cluster Fermented Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Now THIS is a FUN, FUN wine. It's not full of itself and is ready to drink young. It's got super fresh strawberry, red raspberry and more red fruit on the nose with lots of great acid and is nicely balanced front to back. It's not a food wine, per se, but great to drink on its own with some young cheese or light passed hors d'oeuvers.

Interestingly, it's whole cluster fermented AND fermented using carbonic maceration. Crazy. That's stuff those French do for the yumminess that is Beaujolais Nouveau. Essentially, rather than fermenting with a traditional aerobic environment and with fruit that is crushed, CO2 is introduced into the fermentation tank, and what's now, an anaerobic environment and fermentation occurs INSIDE the fruit itself.

This leads to VERY low tannins, so wines are very drinkable when young, but don't have enough structure to lay down for much more than a year at the very most.

Have some fun and drink this very, very reasonably priced, approachable

2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Retail: $19
Grade: B


  1. I do think, especially in good years, Oregon offers some of the best values available in Pinot Noir. The state simply does that varietal as well as anyone, anywhere and the general wine drinking public hasn't quite caught on as of yet.

  2. Love learning about pinos and pairings. Good stuff!

  3. Mark,

    Yes, agreed...and more than just good years vs. other regions. OR has a unique style that is different that Russian River or Sta. Rita or Sonoma Coast....and that's what I find compelling.


More than happy to have your comments below. Thx.