This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir needs no introduction. This week, I’m taking a look at a few solid examples from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages. Honestly, I didn’t find a mediocre wine, although the elegance and complexity of the 2011 Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve wowed me the most.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single blind.
2011 Cornerstone Cellars Pinot Noir - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Bright red cherry colored. Cool red fruit bursts from the glass (strawberries, cherries and raspberries), along with a hefty dose of spice (oregano, black pepper, nettles) and some sweet coffee. Fresh and inviting on the palate with high acid, smooth tannins and tangy strawberries, raspberries and red currants. I like the kick of pepper, soy and wet leaves. Some cedar and coffee notes are integrated well into the overall package. Bright and fresh but lots of complexity. Ready to drink but able to hold. (90 points)
2011 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Elizabeth’s Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Bright, clear ruby colored. The nose is just awesome once it opens up in the glass: spiced cranberry sauce, sour cherries, roses, mint, tobacco. On the palate, the acid is beautiful, the tannins silky, and the fruit is just gorgeous, with tangy red currants, deep black cherries and wild strawberry. Tons of fresh and fruity complexity, but the non-fruit flavors are what really excite me: tobacco leaf, braised beef, black pepper, sage, dill, cedar, some cola and cedar notes to round it out. Long, structured, elegant, very tangy. Dare I throw out the B-word in comparison? (93 points)
2012 Vineyard 29 Pinot Noir Cru - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Light purple color. Bright red and black cherries on the nose, with sweet roses, light roast coffee, some chestnut and earth notes. Tangy acid and some fine-grain but firm tannins, the fruit is fresh and juicy but rich all at the same time. Layered with complex notes of spice, earth, cedar, green herbs and coffee. Love the combination of oomph and elegance. Stuff to unpack in the cellar here, or let it open for an entire evening, save half the bottle for the next day. (91 points)
2012 Cornerstone Cellars Pinot Noir Stepping Stone - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Medium ruby color. Aromas of raspberry and strawberry jam, some violets, rose petals, cracked pepper, a sweeter note of coffee and caramel. On the palate, this is full of juicy red berry fruit, supported by dusty-fine tannins. Spicy rhubarb and dried cherries mix with earth and slight mushroom notes, some sweet vanilla cola. An easy-drinking personality, it’s ready to open now but it’s not a simple wine, showing a good dose of complexity. (88 points)
2012 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Estate - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
Medium ruby color. Nose of tart red cherries, cranberry sauce with spices, roses and rhubarb pie. Medium tannic structure, medium acid, a mouthfeel that is both smooth yet chewy. Nice mix of red and black plums and cherries, some strawberries too. Juicy and fresh yet bold, some toasted oak and roasted coffee mix in with the lighter notes of rose petals, clay soil and chewing tobacco. Quite a long finish with toasted oak, roses and coffee on the finish. Solid concentration, but stays pretty. This opens up a lot with air but could use a year or two in the cellar. (89 points)
2013 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Barrel Select - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Medium ruby color. Love the aromas, plenty of sour and red cherries, wild strawberries, matched equally with notes of pickle, bay leaf, barnyard and smoke. Fine but supportive tannins, brisk and refreshing acid, a precise approach. Sour cherries, strawberries and raspberries taste tart and juicy, backed up by flavors of beef broth, dusty earth, charcoal pit and some white pepper, hints of light roast coffee. Tangy, fresh, pretty and vibrant, ready to drink but enough structure to last a few years. 12.5% alcohol, aged nine months in 25% new French oak. (88 points)