Oregon trip (finally and stupidly long)

Posted by: Charlie Chadwick

Oregon trip (finally and stupidly long) - 06-27-2022 14:19:04

General observations

It’s been a long time since Pat and I visited Oregon. This trip was delayed from 2020 for the obvious reason. We’re glad we persisted. There has been an explosion of new wineries since we were there 15 years ago. A general observation: It’s easy to find good Oregon wines (particularly Pinot) but much harder to find outstanding wines. Probably a true statement in any part of the world. It is an area that we love, but a bit of caution isn’t a bad idea.
These notes are here and not on the Tasting Notes forum because they were taken in tasting rooms without food or just the typical cheese/charcuterie and were occasionally a bit hurried (or lost!). As I get wines into the cellar and can taste them at home over a meal, I’ll put those notes up on the Tasting Notes forum. The notes below are roughly in the order that we visited the wineries.

Penner Ash

2021 Viognier Rogue Valley: Not a big Viognier fan but this was pleasant enough.
2018 Pinot Noir Elevee Vineyard Dundee Hills: Expressive nose of strawberry and floral notes. Lovely strawberry fruit on the palate, fine tannins, great acidity, spice on the finish
2018 Pinot Noir Bella Vida Vineyard Dundee Hills: Bit shy on the nose, cherry, chocolate, earthy notes on the palate, soft tannins, good acidity
2018 Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton: Light, fragrant nose, palate shows cherries, moist earth, tannins need a bit of time but OK now, good acidity, great balance, long finish. Picks up weight and spice even in the short time I had to spend with it.
2018 Pinot Noir Estate Yamhill-Carlton: Not much on the nose, good depth of flavor on the palate, sour cherries, great acidity and balance, long, subtle finish. Needs age
2018 Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Pas De Nom Winemaker’s Barrel Select: Lovely, fragrant nose, smooth on the palate, complex, strawberry, raspberry, earth, beautiful acidity and balance. Finishes long and bright, Drink next 10 years. Beautiful wine (A+)

Belle Pente

My notes got lost but the pinots were very good. Totally different visit from Penner Ash. Pull up to a farmyard with a car up on blocks with goats, cattle, ducks, chickens and sheep. Pat was fascinated by the baby goats. The winery was further back and not elaborate. Had a great time tasting wines that we liked, had more age on them than normal tasting room fare. Liked the Pinots more than the Chardonnay. Bought the 2016 Murto Vineyard and 2017 Belle Pente Vineyard.

Dusky Goose

2016 Pinot Noir Rambouillet & Lillie’s Vineyards Dundee Hills: Aromatic nose, soft cherry fruit, picks up weight with a little air, verry fine tannins, great acidity and balance. A
2017 Pinot Noir Rambouillet & Lillie’s Vineyards Dundee Hills: Earthy nose, bit darker fruit than the 2016, black cherries, sharp tannins, nice acidity and balance, long finish B+
2017 Pinot Noir Rambouillet Vineyard: Long time for the nose to open up and then nice spice notes, spicy, muted cherry fruit, long finish B+
2016 Pinot Noir Fennwood Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton: Spicy, cherry nose, dark fruits, black cherry, hint of raspberry. Lingering finish. Improves with air, more elegant. Needs age. A-

Willakenzie

2016 Pinot Noir Jory Hills: Deep fruit, minerality, long finish B+
2016 Pinot Noir Estate: Black cherries, intense, bit of blueberry, fine tannins, great acidity and balance. A-
2019 Pinot Noir Estate: as with the 2016 but more dark fruiuted, more minerality. Needs 3 to 4 years. A
2018 Pinot Noir Clairierre: Shy on the nose, red fruited, strawberry, fine tannins, good acidity and balance. Seemed a bit muted. B
2019 Pinot Noir Clairierre: Very aromatic nose, spiuct on the palate, blackberry, dusty tannins, long, subtle finish. A
2016 Pinot Noir Triple Black Slopes: Bit funky on the nose but it burned off quickly. Bright, sweet fruit, very red-fruited, not very complex but a wonderful finish. B
2018 Pinot Noir Emery: Big, beautiful noise, spicy strawberry and raspberry fruit, vibrant on the palate. Fine but evident tannins, great acidity and balance. Long finish A

St Innocent

Can’t find my notes again, but I distinctly remember being disappointed. Not bad, but no reason to buy (especially at the prices).

Cristom

Yep, can’t find my notes, but this was the opposite of St Innocent. Great wines and a great visit. Yes, it’s fancy, but still warm and friendly. Pat’s highlight? The young lady hosting us took her to see the compost pile -- you can’t make this stuff up! Liked all the wines. Favorites were the 2021 Rose of Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, 2020 Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay, and 2019 Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir. Bought all three of these.
Almost everywhere we visited handed us a Rose to start. Most were “mehhh” but the Cristom was a genuine delight.
As a side note, they were selling (and tasting) a single 2020 Pinot. They told us up front that they had smoke in their vineyards and had not made any SV Pinots. This one was made of lots they bought from 17 vineyards around the valley and crafted to be drunk young. They figured it was a way to give some relief to the grape cellars who lost a lot of revenue. It tasted fine, but they warned us that it was a buy now/drink now wine – the taint was bound to show up eventually. They were very up front about it. I didn’t buy any.

Domaine Roy et Fils

Worst visit of the trip. Super elaborate tasting room, pretentious “servers” (can’t call them tasting room people), decent to mediocre wines and a lot of pressure to buy. I’ll try to be objective about the wines.
2021 Rose of Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton: Faint floral nose, clean, crisp on palate, strawberry, watermelon, great acidity and balance, moderate finish.
2020 Chardonnay Incline Dundee Hills: Granny Smith apples, tropical fruits, no discernible oak. Good acidity and balance. Graceful finish. B+
2019 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley: Lovely nose, juicy, dark fruited, blackberry, bit too acidic (hot?), good balance. Finishes moderately long and bright. B+
2020 Pinot Noir Incline Yamhill-Carlton: Nose is repulsive at first, like smelling an open sewer – it blows off eventually but can’t be forgotten. Intense, dark fruited, almost harsh on the palate, sharp tannins, some nice acidity. Bit out of balance. I didn’t taste any direct smoke taint yet but I wouldn’t bet gainst it. Not an attractive bottle of wine. C-
2019 Pinot Noir Iron Filbert Vineyard: faint violet nose finally breaks through after a lengthy time. Plums and cherries on the palate, tannins need to soften but will they? Excellent acidity and balance. Finishes gradual and faint. Needs age – a lot of it and it may not help. B. Ridiculously overpriced.

Nysa Vineyard

An unscheduled visit that we set up the day before when something else fell through. Definitely a felix culpa! A tiny tasting room and fabulous wines. Oh, and it’s near nothing else! The owner sells most of his grapes (hence a lot of “Nysa Vineyard” wines from other producers). He has been making his own wines for a number of years but wasn’t big into the sales end of the business. Finally hired someone to handle this and Monique was a great host. And, also, a lot of older vintages to taste that have been in the cellar for a long time. Every one of these older wines was excellent. We were absolutely blown away by a 2005 Pinot that was fresh and full of fruit yet with obvious development that 17 years has given it. Probably has years ahead of it. 6 bottles followed us home (or will in the fall when they ship). Also bought a youngster – 2018 Chardonnay that was outstanding – and a “middle aged” 2012 Leda’s Reserve Pinot Noir. Yes, I have the notes from the crap fest at Domaine Roy and can’t find the notes from this gem. Just take my word for it, these are great wines.

Kelley Fox

No tasting notes because I didn’t take any. Our favorite visit. Dustin brought us into their barrel room (they make wine at the ADEA Wine Company), sat us at a table and Kelley came in and joined us. We talked for two hours and almost none of it was about wine. Kelley said she would answer questions if we liked but preferred not to talk about the wine – “I’ve already done the work, you like it or you don’t”. Which was fine because she is a very interesting person with a broad range of interests. We did sip wine and liked all of them. Even Kelley wasn’t sure what Dustin was pouring! No 2020 Pinots since she made no red wine from that vintage (the story from almost every winery we visited).

Ken Wright

I like their wines, but this was a very commercial tasting experience. Big tasting room in the middle of Carlton, lots of people and very little personal touch. They weren’t pouring them, but they were selling 2020s. The story we got? Yes, there was smoke in their vineyards but miraculously their wines weren’t affected (there was some pseudo-scientific babble that even the guy helping us stumbled over). I’m not buying it (particularly since a trusted taster-friend has told me that smoke taint has started to show up to varying degrees in the wines).
2019 Pinot Noir McCrone Vineyard: Not much on the nose, bright, juicy red fruits, cherries, fine tannins, great acidity, excellent balance. Drink next 4 to 5 years. A-
2019 Pinot Nuir Guadalupe Vineyard: Violets on the nose, dense, dark fruited, black cherries, bit of raspberry, sharp tannins, great acidity and balance. Needs age. A
2019 Pinot Noir Savoya Vineyard: Bit astringent on the palate, some anise, stemmy, unpleasant, sharp tannins, bit of heat. Did pick up some cherry notes with air. C
2019 Pinot Noir Abbott Claim Vineyard: Violets and lavender on the nose. Ripe raspberry and cherry fruit, fine tannins great acidity and balance. Long sweet finish. Superb. A
2019 Pinot Noir Hirschy Vineyard: Aromatic nose, lush, dark raspberry fruit, soft tannins, nice acidity and balance. Drink the next 4 years. B+

J.L. Kiff

2021 Rose of Pinot Noir: Bright strawberry, lovely acidity. B+ May get better with short term aging.
They make a single Pinot Noir so we were tasted on four vintages.
2013 Pinot Noir: Spice and strawberry on the nose. Light earthy notes, strawberry, bit sharp on the palate, sharp tannins. Good acidity and balance. Needs 3 to 4 years. Hard to figure this one out, would have liked a great deal more time with it. I think it’s an “A” but ….
2014 Pinot Noir: Dark fruits, black cherry, bit of pepper, dusty tannins. Good acidity and balance. Intense finish. Needs 3 to 4 years. A-
2015 Pinot Noir: Spicy on the nose, bright red fruit, strawberry, cherry, fine tannins, great acidity and balance. Finishes long. Drink next 5 years. A
2016 Pinot Noir: Aromatic, floral nose, bit astringent on the palate, strawberry, cherry, fine tannins, great acidity, good balance. Finishes long and graceful. I’d wait a couple of years on this one. A- with an upside.

Holloran Vineyards

A lovely surprise discovery for us. Great wines, fair prices, nice tasting venue without being pretentious. Now let me see if I can figure out my notes….
2021 Rose of Pinot Noir: Light, elegant, crisp
2020 Sauvignon Blanc Eola Vineyard: Cut grass on the nose, rich tropical fruits onb palate, beautiful mouthfeel, great acidity and balance. No grapefruit at all. Long, graceful finish. First rate. A-
2018 Chardonnay Le Pavillon: Light, lovely nose, on the palate lemon zest, Granny Smooth apples, spice, lovely acidity, great balance. A
2013 Pinot Noir La Chenaie: Black cherries on the nose, lovely, earthy fruit, strawberry, raspberry, beautifully resolved tannins, perfectly balanced acidity, graceful finish. A-
2015 Pinot Noir Le Pavillon: Spicy Strawberry nose, precise on the palate, strawberry, cherry, warm spice, long graceful finish. Drink next 5 years. A with an upside.
2015 Pinot Noir Dundee Hills: Lovely cherry nose, strawberry, black cherry fruit, fine tannins, good acidity and balance, pleasant finish. B+
2018 Riesling: Gorgeous nose of vanilla and lemon. Crisp on the palate but the fruit wasn’t a match, sour lemons and apples. C+
2016 Pinot Noir ANA Vineyard: Shy on the palate, bright, crisp fruit, strawberry, raspberry, spice, bright acidity, excellent balance, fine tannins. A
2012 Pinot Noir Cuvee Gran Jean: Dark fruited on palate, sharp tannins, good acidity and balance. Needs years. Defer judgement.
Bought the 2020 Sauv Blanc, 2018 Le Pavillon Chard, and 2015 Le Pavillon Pinot.

Anderson Family

No notes but the wines were nice, not great. Lovely people.

Bethel Heights

Overall very nice wines and nice people.
2020 Pinot Blanc: Soft tropical fruits, good acidity, bit of an herbal note. Nice. B
2021 Pinot Noir Rose: Light strawberry nose, crisp on the palate with strawberry and melons, bit of an herbal note here as well. Finishes with lovely acidity. Fine balance. B+
2018 Pinoit Noir Justice Vineyard: Beautiful bright berry nose. Lusg fruit, strawberry, cherries, fine tannins, great acidity and balance, finishes long and spicy, Drink next 5 years. A
2017 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard: Faint on the nose with lemons and apples, bit muted on theb palate, good acidity and balance. B
2016 Pinot Noir, The Currents Eola-Amity Hills: Lightly aromatic, bright strawberry fruit, fine tannins, good acidity and balance, long graceful finish. B+
2018 Pinot Noir The Currents Eola-Amity Hills: Dark fruits on the nose, raspberries and black cherries on the palate, precise fruit, dusty tannins, excellent acidity, great balance, long finish. A- with an upside with some age.
2018 Chardonnay Casteel Vineyard: Lemon zest on the nose, lemons, apples, tropical fruit on palate, excellent acidity, great balance, bit of oak but just a spice not overbearing at all. A

Gran Moraine

All the pinots were much better with cheese and charcuterie.
2021 Rose of Pinot Noir (yes, everyone had a rose!): Light berry nose, burst of strawberry and watermelon on the palate, great acidity and long, lovely finish. A. The highlight of the tasting. The other wines were Ok but nothing that blew us away.
2018 Pinot Noir Cascade: Fragrant, dark fruited aromas, intense black cherry fruit, hint of anise, tannins need to soften, good acidity and balance. Much better with some nibbles. B+

2018 Pinot Noir Dropstone: Blackberry on the nose, smooth and precise on the palate, black cherries, raspberries, lovely acidity, fine balance. Long graceful finish. Elegant with food. A-
2017 Pinot Noir Vista Zena Crown Vineyard: Fragrant nose, black cherries on palate, tannins still hard, good acidity and balance, moderate finish. Softer and better with food.
2017 Pinot Noir Conifer Zena Crown Vineyard: Nose is a bit shy. Soft, elegant strawberry fruit, fine tannins, bit too acidic, moderately long but graceful finish. B+

Charlie
Posted by: James Cross

Re: Oregon trip (finally and stupidly long) - 06-30-2022 08:05:34

Charlie: Interesting set of wines. I've been to Oregon five times with the last one being in 2013. Lots of changes for sure. On my first visit in 1989 there were maybe 25 real wineries. Now the number is way high, but some are garage operations.

Just a few comments per your impressions.

I used to be on the Penner Ash list but bailed when she sold out. At the recent WS Grand Tour in Vegas they poured the Pas De Nom. I didn't like it as much as you did.

Belle Pente is a hoot with the goats, etc. Brian used to post on this forum and I have visited him twice. There are only three Oregon wineries I still buy from and this is one of them.

I like Willa Kenzie; very nice setting and good wines.

The St. Innocent guy no showed for an appointment, so I'm done with them.

Totally agree on Cristom; showplace property but nice folks and good wines. They also do syrah and viognier from hotter areas.

Kelley Fox gets rave reviews. I've only had the pinot blanc (very good) and have not yet visited.

Agree with you on Ken Wright and Bethel Heights.

Too bad you missed Brick House, Drouhin, P Green, and Chehalem. Drouhin does comparisons between the French and Oregon versions.
Posted by: Bob Davis

Re: Oregon trip (finally and stupidly long) - 06-30-2022 18:49:41

The only winery we had in common was Willkenzie. You had much better luck with their 2016s. We thought they were over the hill.

Oddly enough our favorite wine from Penner Ash is the Viognier. We buy when we can find it.
Posted by: R. Schiffman

Re: Oregon trip (finally and stupidly long) - 07-01-2022 14:15:12

Thanks for all the time you put in it. Very nice.