What are you waiting for?? Willamette Valley has come a long way since David Lett (aka Papa Pinot!) planted his first Pinot grapes in the mid 1960’s….or even in the 80’s when critics bashed the hand crafted wines coming from the area. Here we are, just a couple decades and many 90+ point wines later, now the Drouhin family from Burgundy is here. Dominique Lafon from Burgundy is here. Kendall Jackson & La Crema are here. These wines are now regarded as some of the best in the world, and justifiably so. The large variety of microclimates within the valley offer a tremendous amount of diversity for a multitude of grape varieties to flourish.
Willamette Valley Facts…..
– Acreage dedicated to wine growth has doubled in the last 10 years
– Top bottlings can age 20+ years
– This year Willamette Valley celebrates 50 years of Pinot Noir growth
– Some Willamette Valley Pinots going for as much as $300 per bottle!
– #1 white wine in Oregon…by a long shot…is Pinot Gris
Wines to watch….
Belle Pente 2012 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Wow. One of the very few wines in my life that I can still vividly remember my first. This is such a wonderful example of non interventionist winemaking. This is Pinot Noir in its purest and most profound expression. An anemic 13.6% alcohol, allowing the true flavors of Pinot Noir to flourish. No overripeness allowed here. Not to be judgmental but, if you don’t enjoy this wine, you have no business drinking Pinot Noir.
2. The Four Graces 2012 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Another beautiful selection from an epic 2012 vintage, probably the best since 2002. This winery is passionate about making wines in a sustainable fashion, also going as far as utilizing biodynamic practices in the making of their wines. An expensive and time consuming process inevitably creating much smaller yielding vines…yet such beautiful fruit! A real must try. This is slightly riper than the Belle Pente however, still exhibiting a comparable level of complexity.
3. Kings Ridge 2013 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
Only 5k cases made of this small production, beauty. Clean, fresh palate loaded with juicy ripe fruit. This is a classic example of what Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is all about. Pinot Gris is an excellent wine for food & wine pairings. If you enjoy Pinot Noir you should give this genetic mutation of the varietal a try!