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Oregon Pinot Noir


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I recently tasted (well, 2 bottles in a week) the AtoZ 2003 Pinot Noir, blended from a variety of premium wines.

Now, is this bottle a good indication of what to expect from Oregon?

It was my first ever US Pinot, and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It opened up gradually over each session, each glass showing off more fruit of the forest kind rather than those of the juiced up kind. The gaminess was just right, balanced with fine tannins, and the fresh fruit complexity showing through the delightful medium-light weight body.

But I'd like to be educated as to what is Oregon Pinot Noir all about???

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I recently tasted (well, 2 bottles in a week) the AtoZ 2003 Pinot Noir, blended from a variety of premium wines.

Now, is this bottle a good indication of what to expect from Oregon?

It was my first ever US Pinot, and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It opened up gradually over each session, each glass showing off more fruit of the forest kind rather than those of the juiced up kind. The gaminess was just right, balanced with fine tannins, and the fresh fruit complexity showing through the delightful medium-light weight body.

But I'd like to be educated as to what is Oregon Pinot Noir all about???

though A to Z's wine is probably lighter-bodied than most from 2003, i'd say the quick answer is: no.

2003 was a nightmarishly hot summer not only in Burgundy but Oregon too, and the resultant wines have a fruit density, and a weight, that to me is completely atypical of Oregon. wines almost uniformly surpassed 14 percent and sometimes even peaked above 15. the fruit notes are more often of the stewed and cooked variety than fresh (so if you detected fresh, you're ahead of the game).

the '03s can make for tasty wines to lovers of a certain style of pinot -- notably the Russian River and the more concentrated Santa Barbara styles. they're just not typical Oregon.

what i would say is that if you enjoyed the '03 A to Z, consider it a good introduction to Oregon's potential, if not its typicity. seek out some '02s or '04s for comparison, which are likely to be more classic -- fresh strawberry and herb, rather than the darker, denser notes.

Craig Camp, i'm sure, may have further insights.

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Thanks for your insight.

The region seems similar to the Mornington, down here in Victoria, near Melbourne. Cool climate, semi-coastal, with the potential to produce well structured wines. To know that a hot summer swung surprises me even more with the fresh fruit.

We are being forced to be used to the stewed variety down here, with a strong earthy touch. Even renowned Mornington wines are being made bigger and driven harder. Maybe that's why in contrast to a lot of what I've been drinking recently, the AtoZ stood out. I would imagine that it gets hotter down here even on an average year.

What are some other Oregon labels that I might be likely to find in my neck of the woods?

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I find Oregon Pinot Noirs very much in the vein that you mentioned: gamey and foresty (sp?). Many do exhibit more earthy notes that fruit forward notes. A nice cross between Burgundian and Cool climate new world regions. The small boutique producers strive for that exclusive Euro style. From an Australian frame of reference , many Oregon PN, remind me of cool vintage Tasmanian PN but with more emphasis on earth, mineral, forest, and wood smoke notes.

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver, Canada

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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the correlations to Victoria -- and esp. to Tasmania -- are pretty good. i suspect OR draws an even stronger line to your Kiwi counterparts.

no clue what might make its way down there, but of the list i saw on Winesearcher available in AUS stores, i'd specifically suggest: Elk Cove, Evesham Wood, Rex Hill, Cristom, Domaine Serene, Patricia Green, and especially Chehalem and Stoller. of course, there's a lot of '03s on the market, so you might want to choose carefully.

Chehalem, which is one of the older and more non-interventionist wineries, ended up with ABV over 15 percent in its 2003s. (it's an indicator of what happened to wines that were left alone and not ... let's not say watered back, but in the words of one Oregon winemaker, acidified with very weak acid.) here's the tech sheet on the Chehalem '03 3 Vineyards, if you're interested.

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Recently, I was able to taste several different Oregon pinots at friend's dinner party. The A to Z was one of those tasted (I believe the '03, but I wasn't taking notes). While good, it was far from the most impressive. I have had many Oregon pinots over the years that I thought were better.

I did want to point out that Oregon is a large state. While many good Oregon pinots are labelled "Willamette Valley," often the best ones are from Yamhill County. Pinots from Umpqua County and Lane Country do not seem as good in my humble opinion. A wine simply labelled Oregon could contain juice from a wide range of areas in the state. So in addition to paying attention to vintage years, a careful buyer should also check out vineyard locations as well.

One point . . . was his ability to recollect the good dinners which it had made no small portion of the happiness of his life to eat.

--Nathaniel Hawthorne "The Custom House"

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