Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Oregon Pinot Noir

It is not easy to sell American wine in Australia. To start with, in many ways, the flavour profiles and structural characteristics are similar. Prices for these wines are high in the US, and much worse in Australia, obviously. As a result, US entry level wines compete with premium Australian wines. However, some Oregon producers are trying.

Elk Cove was one of the first ten wineries in Oregon. The 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a fairly high volume production (12,000 cases). It offers strawberry and sweet raspberry flavours on the front palate. There are some earthy notes down the palate, but the wine lacks seamless integration of the different flavours and oak (88 points).

A to Z is a co-operative which sources fruit from many different vineyards in the valley. The 2015 Pinot Noir shows pretty cherry flavours, but the mouthfeel falls flat (88 points).

Cristom is a more upmarket producer. The  2017 Mount Jefferson Pinot Noir is the entry level wine, blended from three vineyards. The winery is biodynamic and it uses natural yeast. This shows on the palate with a smooth and well integrated texture. The wine is light to medium-bodied (91 points).

Eyrie Vineyards is another of the first ten wineries in Oregon. It is organic and uses no fining and no filtration. The colour of the 2015 Pinot Noir is already quite developed. The palate is savoury, with mushroom flavours dominating, but there is still some freshness in this wine (90 points).

Evesham Wood is another organic winery. The 2016 Le Puits Sec Pinot Noir comes from the same subregion as the Cristom wine. Flavours are in the dark cherry and savoury spectrum. Like all the other wines, it lacks tannin in its structure (90 points).

The wines reviewed here are entry level wines and will not benefit from further cellaring. There is an effort made to balance fruit and savoury flavours, but structurally, these wines leave a bit to be desired.

I had entered a single vineyard Cristom wine in my four nation eight Pinot Noirs challenge. It drank well, competed against top notch wines, and came in fifth. 

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