If you have ever traveled on Interstate 5 south of Portland, Ore., you have passed Willamette Valley Vineyards. Its beautiful tasting room towers over the freeway, surrounded by sloping hillsides of grape vines and pine trees. It’s hard to miss, but for years I drove past it and didn’t take the time to stop.
In August 2012, I righted that wrong while on a tasting trip with the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland. The winery is even more beautiful up close. And bigger! There are 50 acres of vines on the Estate Vineyard, and the winery imports from non-estate vineyards to round out its production.
Did I mention that it’s sustainably grown too? You can read about the soil, climate and elevation here, and I’ll move on to the taste!
Tonight I opened a 2009 Pinot Noir, a fantastic example of why Oregon is known for its pinots! The color is a ruby-jewel color, clear and crystalline and almost pink during the pour. The aroma is black pepper, green pepper, tobacco and plum.
The aroma is mirrored in the taste — peppery, plummy, and just a touch of smoke. This is something I love about good pinots – deceptively complex flavors in a seemingly thin wine.
There are a great many pinot noirs that are just watery and hardly worth the effort to drink them. But the ones I like to drink — like this Willamette Valley selection — are spicy like a good zinfandel but light and in feel and aftertaste.
Bonus points to Willamette Valley Vineyards for an abundance of info on the label. I have never seen a label that includes the grape clone names, soil type, date of harvest, and best dates to drink it. This wine is best consumed between 2011 and 2013, so I feel quite confident in what I’m tasting now in 2013.