Wine Tasting Dinner: Oregon Pinot Noir



By Kori ~ June 24th, 2009.

Wine tasting dinner guests at the tableThis month’s wine tasting dinner, held last Friday night, featured Oregon Pinot Noir. Regular Wine Peeps readers know that Pinot Noir is not our favorite varietal. However, since we live so close to Oregon, generally considered the best growing area for Pinot Noir in the United States, we have made a conscious effort to continue to try Pinots and hopefully discover a few that we really like.

I know that there are many Pinot lovers out there, so if you are one of them, you are probably thinking, “What is she talking about? Pinot Noir is my favorite. What’s not to like?”

As with any wine, it’s all a matter of taste. Pinot Noir is generally lighter in color and lighter-bodied than other red wines. I typically prefer bigger, bolder wines like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. With that said though, there are definitely times when a lighter-styled wine pairs better with certain foods. In fact, these Oregon Pinot Noirs paired quite well with Mom’s dinner of tomato basil soup, mixed green salad with dill vinaigrette dressing, prime rib, cilantro lime mashed sweet potatoes, braised red kale, and chocolate cake with whipped topping, raspberries, and shaved chocolate.

Lineup of Oregon Pinot NoirsThe other drawback to Pinot Noir is that it is a very finicky grape. While at its best it can produce dream wines, too often it isn’t close to that. There is a lot of variation from vintage to vintage even from the same producer.

I am happy to report that we would recommend five of the six wines in this tasting dinner. The big winners were the 2006 Lachini Family Estate Pinot Noir and the 2006 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir. Both are smooth, well-balanced wines that boast bright red fruits. While oftentimes Pinots are overpriced, in my opinion, the biggest surprise in this tasting was the fact that the top five wines all have a QPR rating of either 4 or 5 bangs for your buck.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2006 Lachini Family Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Pale ruby with smoke and red fruit aromas. More red fruits come through on the palate. Tastes like a cherry Jolly Rancher. Medium-bodied and lively with medium tannins and a long finish. Smooth and well-balanced. A little bigger than the others in this tasting.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle), $35; Binny’s Beverage Depot (Illinois), $32.99

2006 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Pale ruby and very aromatic. Strawberries and floral notes come through on both the nose and the palate. Light to medium-bodied, low to medium tannins, and a long finish. Lively, smooth, and well-balanced.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pete’s Wine Shop – Eastside (Washington), $37; Available elsewhere, $28 to $47

2006 Patton Valley Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Pale ruby but not as brilliant as the others. Raspberry and sweet chocolate aromas. Red fruit flavors with a hint of white pepper. Light-bodied, low to medium tannins, and a long finish. Improves with food.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $34; Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits (California), $31.99

2007 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir (Oregon): Aromas and flavors of strawberries. A bit of a dirty, earthy funk on the nose. Medium-bodied and crisp with soft tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $15; Available elsewhere, $15 to $21

2006 Cottonwood Winery Marina Piper Pinot Noir (Yamhill County, Oregon): Bing cherries and earth on the nose; red fruits and a bit fishy on the palate. Medium-bodied, crisp, low to medium-tannins, and a long finish. Smooth.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle), $24; DeLaVin (Washington), $29

2007 Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir (Oregon): Smells like a dirty mop bucket. Faint hints of red fruits come through the stinky, smoky aromas. Bitter. Improves slightly with food but still misses the mark.
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR:  NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $24; Available elsewhere, $22 to $30


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. mrzitro | June 24th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    By your description, the AtoZ PN looks good to me. The “dirty & earthy funk on the nose” is intriguing. K&L notes that the oak is not overpowering. Do you concur?

  2. Kori | June 24th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    mrzitro,
    Yes, I do concur, the oak is not overpowering. If you find “dirty, earthy funk” on the nose appealing, this is a wine you should definitely check out. At $15, it’s a great buy.

  3. Paul Zitarelli | June 24th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Kori – Nice to see these notes up. “Fishy on the palate” sounds a little terrifying; I must admit.

  4. Kori | June 24th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Paul,
    Yes, the fishiness was a little scary, but with all the different palates out there, someone might like it.

  5. Limo Services CA | July 6th, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Great article and review. It seems like everyone has a great time. The next time you travel to a winery, you should travel in style with a limo and have a great classy wine tasting adventure.

  6. California pinot noir | February 27th, 2012 at 12:54 am

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