Friday, January 15, 2010

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2008 Pinot Gris

wvv_vineyard_image_vertical An arctic blast had stranded me in Austin, Texas, for an extra night. It was cold in Texas and even colder when I arrived back in Ohio. Returning to the office, I was swamped by a backload of work. But there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a special tasting of wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards.

Willamette Valley Vineyards is known for producing classic, juicy Oregon Pinot Noir. They have been named “one of America’s great Pinot Noir producers” by Wine Enthusiast.

Their commitment to sustainability is also impressive. The winery recycles cork, has committed to be carbon neutral by 2010 and employees are also offered 50 gallons of biodiesel fuel free each month.

Our tasting line-up included: 1. Quarry Hill 2007 Vidal Blanc (Lake Erie), 2. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris, 3. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir, 4. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir Elton Vineyard, and 5. Moon Mountain 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma). Joining me on the tasting team were Pat and Stephanie Wise, Spiderman and Green Dragon.

The Pinot Gris is a clear, light wheat color with light body. It is crisp on the tongue with a steely, mineral acidity. This is a refreshing Alsatian-style wine. I especially enjoyed the creaminess. The flavor notes are citrus and pear with a clean, long finish.

The wine is fermented in stainless steel with a small portion finished in French Oak barrels.
We enjoyed some light appetizers with the Pinot Gris, including some coconut shrimp and Gruyere cheese. Pat remarked that this would be a perfect addition to a light picnic lunch to take to an outdoor concert to enjoy with some fruit and cheese. The wine would be a nice pick for a mixed group of wine drinkers.

After our two whites, we were ready for the Pinot Noir for which WVV is so well known.
wvv_brand_bottle_shot The 2007 Pinot Noir has a garnet color with a not so prominent nose. The tannins are not strong. Green Dragon found a nose of tart black cherries. This is a dry wine that is not extreme. It is an easy drinking wine that is a good red for those not comfortable with red wines.

Stephanie noted that it starts slowly, then a delicate cherry flavor comes forward and dissipates into a clean dry finish. Pat thought this would be a great match with one of his favorite dishes, whitefish with mushrooms and cherries. In fact it would probably go with any dish that has a cherry sauce or cherry component.

The tasting team had quite an interest in the Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir. Only 410 cases were bottled from the vineyard, which is considered one of Oregon’s top vineyards. We decanted it for an hour and a half to allow it to open up.

The Eton Vineyard has a contrasting style to the 2007 Pinot. It has an earthy quality that Spiderman felt appeals more to the connoisseur.

The wine has a plum color and a nice bouquet that had scents of wood smoke and black fruit. The wine is fermented in 50% new French Oak and this translates into a stronger backbone and greater complexity.
This is a smoky, elegant wine that is smooth across the palate with a soft velvety feeling. It has a clean but muted, lingering finish.

This is a fuller bodied wine with a woodsy nuance. The flavors match the earthy aromas. Green Dragon found a touch of licorice. Pat noted that this fuller bodied wine had a pleasant sheeting effect, providing a nice lingering mouthfeel.

This was a delightful trio of wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards. This is a winery worth seeking out for a taste of Willamette Valley’s best.

Full Disclosure: We received this wine as a free sample.
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Christine, Willamette Valley Vineyards said...

I am glad we can defrost you slightly with our wines! Thousands of people are envious of you now that you got your hands on a bottle of our 2007 Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir. The wine recently received "Best of Show, Judges Choice" at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Compeition- the largest wine competition in the US with 4900 wine entries and is completely sold out- so sad! I can't wait for the 2008 vintage to be released.

Dave Nershi, CSW said...

The 2007 Elton Vineyard is exceptional. Glad to see that the San Francisco judges agreed with us. Keep up the great work WVV!