Jackalope Cellars 2014 Cabernet Franc Quady North (Applegate Valley) — There’s a tense moment of promise, as there so often is with aromatically forward cabernet franc, but then there’s a bewildering yet overwhelming lactic character that blankets and eventually consumes the wine. There’s little value in (my) speculation regarding the reason, though I’d hope the winery would address it…but whatever it is, the wine would be vastly better without it. (4/16)
On a pony she named Wildfire
Firesteed 2008 Pinot Noir (Oregon) – Charred berries, a quality that seems to afflict the vast majority of cheap pinot noir from this country. There’s really not much else worth saying. (8/12)
Domaine Serene 2006 Pinot Noir “Evenstad Reserve” (Willamette Valley) – This is a winery that receives an enormous amount of attention, and while an unfortunate percentage of it is self-generated, an equally unfortunate amount is decidedly uncomplimentary…both in reaction to the aforementioned and other stuff not particularly germane to this note. In any case, let’s dispense with the trappings and get to the heart of the matter, which is an entirely nice wine. A touch overpriced, yes, but that’s true of most pinot noir…domestic or foreign…so there’s no special damage done here. The fruit tends darker but without excess heaviness, the palate hovers somewhere between lush and silken, and everything’s solid and lengthy enough, and in fair equilibrium, for an enjoyable trip through its quantity. It is not, I should note, free of the trappings of a “made” wine, especially in its overt smoothness, but there’s certainly a place for it. (6/12)
Domaine Drouhin 2001 Pinot Noir “Laurène” (Oregon) – Past peak, for sure. Its gritty, almost sandy structure whelms, yet aromatically so much of a well-developed, leathery fruit mythology is promised that the palate is more of a disappointment than it probably should be. Get in yourr time machine, tense up, and have already drunk up. (The grammarian scold in my head just committed suicide.) (6/12)
Chehalem, which hunt?
Chehalem 2009 Dry Riesling “Reserve” (Willamette Valley) – Surprisingly vibrant up front, solid in the middle, but it tails off into confusion. Ripe, well-buffed crystalline minerality, fruit more of the pear than apple realm, and nicely balanced. If that finish could just be brought into coherence, they’d have something here. (1/12)
Supermodels on MTV
St. Innocent 2009 Pinot Blanc Freedom Hill (Willamette Valley) – Wow, is this good. The nervy, angular side of pinot blanc, ripe to just the ideal point of apple, pear, and albino cherry, with firm acidity, a fleshy underbelly of minerality, and a very long finish. Impressive stuff. (8/11)
St. Innocent 2008 Pinot Noir Temperance Hill (Eola-Amity Hills) – 13.5%. Dense and difficult. Sludgy berries, a dark stew of charred tree and straight-up tar, no fun at all to drink. A stage? I certainly hope so. (8/11)
Dig F-ing Beal?
De Ponte 2010 “D.F.B.” Melon de Bourgogne (Willamette Valley) – To my knowledge, this is the first domestic melon de bourgogne I’ve tasted (barring it being a minor player in a blend). And it’s quite credible. Fuller than western Loire versions, of course, but with that crushed-shell dryness that features in many Muscadets; I guess it’s a varietal signature after all. Otherwise, the fruit’s pale yellow and sunny. A nice quaff. (8/11)
Montinore Estate 2009 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) – Tart red fruit, a little razored and volatile, with sharp and unintegrated acidity. It’s far from bad, but were this presented as a cheap little pinot-based quaffer rather than the result of much-trumpeted viticultural and oenological attention I’d be more sanguine. (7/11)
Firesteed 2008 Pinot Noir (Oregon) – Smells like paint. Having just had the opportunity to experience that smell as a near-constant companion, I feel a certain measure of (hopefully temporary) expertise on this point. And this smells like paint. I’d wager that it tastes like paint, but on that point I’ve no expertise. Certainly, though, paint is unlikely to taste worse. (7/11)