Pinot Noir–Part Two

Value Picks for May 2009

The number of $30 and under Pinot Noirs received from Oregon wineries was a bounty of riches for the OWP. So much so that we deemed it necessary to devote two separate tasting to the effort. Here are the results of the second tasting.

2006 Cherry Hill Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir • $29 (3,468 cases)

This wine could stand up against the best 2006s around regardless of price. And that’s saying something given high overall marks for the vintage. Depth and concentration couple with nuance and complexity to showcase a crescendo of flavors that include dried fruit and flowers, anise and a hint of smokiness. The finish is long, sweet and satisfying.

2007 Stoller Vineyards Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir • $25 (5,810 cases)

An outstanding example of what this vintage can be when everything turned out right, Stoller’s estate Pinot exhibits classic Burgundian elements of earth, coffee and mineral in beautiful balance. Oak vanillin, smoked taffy and butteriness lend rich accents to the overall package.

2007 H Wines (Hamacher) Willamette Valley Pinot Noir • $25 (300 cases)

An entirely different style than the Stoller but equally appealing, Eric Hamacher has crafted a soft, fruit forward Pinot whose perfumey, floral aroma immediately attracts. Toasty vanillin and ripe red cherry deliver on the palate to complete the profile of a medium-weight winner that’s ready to enjoy now.

2007 next: Oregon Pinot Noir (King Estate) • $20 (7,000 cases)

It may be King Estate’s second label, but “next:” doesn’t have to play second fiddle to anyone. Despite a good deal of spottiness among 2007 Oregon Pinots, it’s spot-on with tasty fruit, good balance and a fine finish. Hints of chocolate, chili and toasty oak add to the attraction of a wine that’s already softening and delightfully drinkable.

2007 Benton Lane Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir • $26 (19,674 cases)

Another relatively light but very bright ’07, the Benton Lane exhibits fresh, juicy red berry and cherry flavors complimented by hints of pepper. A silky mouthfeel is followed by a lengthy, pleasurable swallow as this already softened wine is saying take another sip as it slides smoothly down.

2006 Papillon Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir • $22 (2,818 cases)

Blind tasting is an egalitarian process. You taste a whole slew of  ‘em blind, you do it twice, and two wines from one winery sometimes come out on top. Such was the case with the Papillon from Cherry Hill. Buttery caramel, spice, supple tannins and good balance mark this tasty wine that soft and quite seductive on the palate.

2006 Tyee Wine Cellars Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir • $25 (400 cases)

With winemaker Merrilee Buchanan Benson, the winemaking excellence continues at Tyee. Over the years, some truly exceptional wines have been released under the Corvallis label, among them this 2006 Estate Pinot Noir, which merits a whole host of descriptors, including very cherry, butterscotch, pepper, spice, cocoa and resolved tannins.

The Oregon Wine Press tasting panel has selected these wines based on overall quality and value within their respective categories. To the best of our knowledge, they are currently available in the retail marketplace. But a call to the winery or your favorite wine merchant will best determine where they may be purchased. The above wines have met the following criteria: Produced by an Oregon winery; retail price below $30 per 750 ml bottle for Pinot Noir, or $25 for other varietals currently available to consumers. Wine evaluations were conducted using a single-blind method and a 20-point ranking system for appearance, aroma, taste, balance and finish.

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