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What to Drink Now: Pinot Noir from Willamette and Beyond

Some wines to compliment your holiday table.
By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |
Hayley Hamilton Cogill


Stoller Family Vineyards in Willamette Valley; phots by Hayley Hamilton Cogill
Stoller Family Vineyards in Willamette Valley. Photos by Hayley Hamilton Cogill.

Tones of forest floor and truffle filled Pinot Noir wines of Willamette Valley might be a touch powerful for the Thanksgiving meal, but I’ve found a few that are perfect for both taste and pairing. Here are a few from Willamette Valley. I’ve also included a couple of Old World favorites that are sure to match anything on your holiday table.

Roco on mapMy go-to wines throughout the holiday are the balanced wines of Adelsheim, particularly those from Chehalem Mountains such as the new Adelsheim Breaking Ground. EIEIO and Soter each take mineral intense Yamhill-Carlton fruit and deliver textured, complex wines with character. Sustainably grown fruit from the Dundee Hills highlights the earthiness of the region for Stoller. Fort Worth native, Rollin Soles, crafts pretty, highly aromatic wines from Newberg and beyond for his ROCO Winery.

gm-pinotSome new Willamette wineries are peaking the interest of not only critics but also long time Oregon Pinot Noir fans. Jackson Family Wines has made a sizable investment in the region, buying land for their La Crema project, as well as two distinctly unique properties. Gran Moraine ($45) in Yamhill-Carlton, and Zena Crowne, with celebrated Willamette Valley Winemaker Tony Rynders, working with Winemaker Shane Moore, highlighting Eola-Amity Hills. Both allow the terroir to shine through their wines, with Gran Moraine Pinot Noir layering acidity with lushness, elegance with power.

Zena Crown Vineyard was planted in 2000.  The 2013 Zena Crown vintages are the first under their label. They offer three different wines:  Conifer ($75), Σ (The Sum) ($75), and Slope ($100). Conifer delivers juicy fruit and bright acidity, Slope fills the palate with black fruit, spice and exhibits intensity, texture, and character. Σ creates somewhat of a balance between the two, with a nod to the environment, allowing it to sculpt the wine in the bottle.  Production for the 115-acre vineyard  broken into 48 vineyard blocks is still small, but I am eager to see how it continues to grow over the next few years. Wines are available via their website.

La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, sources fruit from throughout the diverse region. It’s a solid entry level representation of the character and quality of Willamette Valley at an affordable price point. $30 at Total Wine.

resonanceLouis Jadot  entered the market recently with their Resonance Pinot Noir. Though still early in their foray in America, the wine has elegance and refinement, essential qualities in a French Burgundy, or, now, a Willamette Pinot. $40 at Pogo’s.

Pinot Noir from Alto Adige, Italy may not be the most top of mind variety from the region known for stellar Pinot Grigio. However, they are truly special. Fresh, highly aromatic with bright acidity and juicy red fruit notes, Alto Adige Pinot Noir, or Pinot Nero, is perfect for the holiday table. Key producers to look for include J. Hofstatter, Elena Walch, and Abazzia d’Novacella. Jimmy’s Food Store carries a nice selection of them.

german-pinotFrom Germany, the Pinot Noir variety, or Spätburgunder, thrives. Mostly grown  in the southern Ahr region, production has increased steadily over the past few years. Very light, fruity, soft, the wine has with its 13 percent alcohol level, Spätburgunder may be the perfect pairing for your holiday meal. A few to look for include Hans Bausch, Heinrick Mannle, Ernst Loosen, Gutzler, and Alfred Huber. Carried locally at Wine Poste and Goody-Goody.


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