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)
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)
Belle Pente 2001 Pinot Noir “Estate Reserve” (Willamette Valley) – 14.3%. Singing, softly, a simple tune. Just a few notes, but pretty ones. Almost as much powder as liquid, earthen with a spattering of dark berries, and fully mature. (7/11)
Adelsheim, Adelsheim, bless our homeland forever
Adelsheim 2006 Pinot Noir “Deglacé” (Willamette Valley) – 375 ml. Tastes more of generic sweet wine that anything particular, though there’s a shot of red berry juice that gestures vaguely in the direction of the source material. It’s clean and well-made, it’s just not interesting in any way. (6/11)
Can I get a Witness?
Witness Tree 2008 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) – Blocky. Tiny berries, but rather than being concentrated and explosive with flavor, they’re just chewy and hard to clear from the palate. Aromatically numb, despite occasional spritzes of blood orange flower. There’s a lot of anonymous fruit, but it’s clipped and lifeless, and the finish isn’t worth much notice. (2/11)
Homestead on the range
Van Duzer 2003 Pinot Noir Homestead Block (Willamette Valley) – This has held better than I’d have expected, and matured less than I’d hoped. Alcohol plays a prominent role here, dragging the already-dark fruit into dangerous licorice-like realms, but otherwise the fruit is solid and, newly-shorn of its supporting structure, shiny and globular. Black pepper and appealing, dark-thyme herbs play a role as well. If it sounds like I’m describing something made from a different grape and from California, know that the thought has occurred. Still pretty good, and the bottle’s soon emptied, but it’s not without booziness. (12/10)