Recently the fine wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley graced Los Angeles, when Pinot in the City showcased some exceptional vintners with outstanding wines. The Willamette Valley Wineries Association presented the event at the Ebell in Los Angeles. While Pinot Noir headlined the bill there were other varietals featured at this event.
Oregon Pinot Noirs are quite different from their namesakes in California. Typically the Oregon Pinot Noirs are softer and lighter than those from California. There is a delicacy to them that gives them a true elegance.
There were over 60 vintners sharing their Pinot Noir. Several wineries made quite an impression.
The Andrew Rich Vintner’s 2012 The Knife Edge Pinot Noir with its lavender qualities was a very balanced medium bodied wine with a soft finish. Andrew Rich also offered a Syrah that stood out from all the other varietals, the 2009 Red Willow Syrah. Although it is not from Oregon it is well worth mentioning. It is from one of the oldest vineyards in the Yakima area of Washington. It is not a heavy Syrah but a medium bodied almost velvety Syrah that is quite balanced and smooth with hints of pepper.
Andrew Rich’s label is created from an etching called "La Vendangeuse" which means the grape harvester. The story behind the label is interesting. Andrew was taking viticulture and enology classes in Beaune, France about the time he needed a career change. When he found this etching during his studies in Beaune, he thought it would make a great label someday. Obviously he did not know at the time that a winery was in his feature. Ten years later it became the label for his wines. The etching typifies the 18th century artists of the time. Like the delicate balance of Andrew Riches wines, the etching is created in a subtly manner.
Dukes Family Vineyards showcased what was the boldest and reminiscent in style to that of a California Pinot Noir. The 2009 Charlotte Pinot Noir is a full-bodied wonderfully balanced Pinot from the Eola-Amity Hills. The vineyard is located in a volcanic region where there is one cluster per shoot making this Pinot quite intense and earthy. The Dragonfly has significant meaning for the Dukes Family Vineyards’ label. For winery owner, Jackie Dukes, the dragonfly has a metaphysical connection. At one point while she was working at the Arizona Veterans Cemetery, making sure that someone attended and honored each Veterans memory when they were interned, she reflected on her own father, a retired air force pilot. As she spoke to him she began seeing a dragonfly fluttering around the barren desert cemetery, as if speaking to her. Shortly after this same occurrence happened to her son, who at the time was training to be a pilot in the Army. With these connections along with wanting to honor Jackie’s father’s memory and love of food and wine was the impetus for the dragonfly becoming an integral part of the Dukes Family Wine label.
Harper Voit was one of those surprise finds or as winemaker Drew Voit states when describing his choice of vineyards, “ A Diamond in the Rough”. This term can be used to describe the wines produced from Harper Voit. Drew picks interesting sites, which come through in his wines. The 2011 Strandline Pinot Noir is a fuller bodied wine with bright red fruit that has notes of raspberries. The 2011 Old School Pinot Noir was a darker spicier reserve blend.
Harper Voit’s 2012 Surlie Pinot Blanc was a wine that everyone was raving about. The wine is very light, smooth, balanced with a tinge of spice.
Some of the other exceptional Pinot Noirs were:
Elk Cove Vineyards presented their flagship 2011 Pinot Noir that represents their interpretation of this varietal by combining the grapes from five vineyards including the Pommard and Dijon clones. One finds sweet bright floral aromas with hints of berries and a balanced nice finish. The 2011 Mount Richmond Pinot Noir from Yamhill-Carlton along the Eastern Coastal Range exudes the aromas and flavors of raspberries. This Pinot is balanced and very drinkable.
Both the Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills 2011 Pinot Noir with its soft subtle balance and the very balanced 2010 Cuvée Lauréne Pinot Noir.
R. Stuart & Co. Winery offered the spiciest and most lively Pinot Noir in their 2010 Big Fire Pinot Noir. The name Big Fire emphasizes the liveliness of this wine.
Other varietals that stood out at the event were:
Domaine Drouhin’s 2012 Arthur Chardonnay, Dundee Hills is light and crisp for a Chardonnay. This 100%A Estate grown Chardonnay is aged 50% in stainless steel and 50% in barrel.
R.Stuart featured a 2012 Big Fire Pinot Gris, a balanced complex wine with a lot going on. Naming the wine Big Fire is very apropos because of the spice that bursts on your palate.
Soléna’s 2012 Pinot Gris almost had the quality of a Gewürztraminer. There was a nice spicy finish. Part of this is due to the higher elevation of those grapes used in this wine.
The only Rosé at the event was the Lachini Vineyards 2012 Rosé Pinot Noir. This was an outstanding Rosé with notes of peaches and other stone fruit.
The selection of wines available at this tasting was vast, enticing those attending to view and sample as many outstanding Pinot Noirs as the palate would permit. Hopefully Pinot In The City will become a yearly event in Los Angeles allowing more wine enthusiasts to experience Oregon’s fabulous wine regions.
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