Willamette Valley Wine Pinot in the City

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by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Forget ‘Sex in the City’…give this girl Pinot in the City any day! Manolo Blahniks? Je préfère sixty-six premium pinot wine makers from Oregon’s Willamette Valley plying their pours at Seattle’s hip Urban Feast, please!

Pinot in the City  blends Willamette Valley Wine pioneers and hard-to-find upstarts, new releases and old standbys, Pinot and Pinot Gris, plus some tasty Chardonnay and Riesling…and more than a few under-the-radar finds.

In other words, premium wine lovers, this is your kinda show…

From a personal standpoint, Pinot in the City allowed me the opportunity to re-connect with wine makers like Byron Dooley of Seven of Hearts and Luminous Hills, whose wines, and wife Dana’s chocolates,  I’ve long admired.

binNotes Fave: Leave a comment below if you want info on my fave small-production, off-the-tasting-notes wines from this wine maker…Hint: You can’t go wrong with any of Byron’s wines. He has a broad and deft palette.

I also got to meet some wine makers whose wines I knew, but whom I hadn’t met personally – like the graceful, gutsy Cathy Redman of Redman Vineyard and Winery. Cathy founded Redman Vineyard and Winery in 2004 with her beloved husband Bill, only to witness his unexpected passing in 2009 from cancer. The Willamette Valley community, in true form, joined together to assist her in continuing Bill’s legacy today.

binNotes Fave: Redman Vineyard and Winery 2010 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir stands out, with its balanced, distinct cranberry/rhubarb/red fruit goodness.

Another treat included meeting dynamo Maria Stuart of R. Stuart & Co. Winery. I first experienced Maria’s wines, and one-of-a-kind graphics, at the 2012 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Portland.

binNotes Fave: R. Stuart & Co. 2011 Willamette Valley Vignette Pinot Noir proves light on the palate – an easy food-pairing wine.

Of course, no self-respecting left-hander can pass up a pour by Left Coast Cellars family owners Suzanne Larson and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Christina Aragon. Try their trademark Left Coast Cellars 2012 Cali’s Cuvée Pinot Noir – it’s an easily accessible mid-range wine.

Pinot in the City also introduced me to some producers with whom I wasn’t familiar.

Iota Cellars wines exceeded all expectations set by a recent Snooth article I’d read prior to attending Pinot in the City. Owner Lynne Pelos and owner/winemaker Johanna Sandberg combine old world sensibilities with new world techniques to produce wines of exceptional balance and poise.

The Iota Cellars 2013 Phyllis Rosé of Pinot Noir from Eola-Amity Hills incorporates 1/2  saignée and 1/2 direct press methods aged 5 mos. in neutral oak to produce a lovely, salmon-hued wine. It’s the closest thing to a true Provençal rosé I’ve experienced this side of the Mediterranean – worth drinking any time of the year.

Under off-the-hook, look for Harper Voit‘s wines, including Harper Voit Cellars 2013 Willamette Valley Surlie Pinot Blanc, a taut, crisp rendition aged in 100% neutral oak 7 months on the lees.

H-Vs Andrew Bandy-Smith (a familiar face from IPNC 2014) treated guests to an etherial Antiquum Farms Pinot Noir not listed on the tasting notes. A wine of power, finesse, and structure indeed.

Grochau Cellars owner/winemaker John Grochau shared his singularly stellar, dry expression of Pinot Blanc, the Grochau Cellars 2013 Pinot Blanc, produced 6 mos. surlie in 70% neutral oak and 30% stainless steel. He also shared his small production ‘off-the-tasting-list’ GC 2013 Melon de Bourgogne – a discrete stunner produced in 100% neutral oak…such a wonderful, rare treat.

Under ‘you-had-me-at-Pinot,’ try Grochau Cellars 2011 Eola-Amity Hills Bjornson Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine captures a lovely floral component reminiscent of some wines of Burgundy.

Great to meet and greet other wine makers I’ve profiled, like Wayne Bailey of Youngberg Hill and Jacques Tardy of Torii Mor Wines, familiar face Ron Lachini of Lachini Vineyards, as well as some unfamiliar faces like Jessica Mozeico-Blair of Et Fille Wines, André Hueston Mack of Mouton Noir Wines, and Alfredo Apolloni and Laura Gordon of Apolloni Vineyards.

I regret those wine makers I missed at Pinot in the City, but the event whet my appetite for more of the Willamette Valley – only a five-hour drive away from Seattle.

NOTE: For those of you lucky enough to attend the 2015 Pinot in the City wine event next year in NYC, allow at least two hours! binNotes barely made it through 1/2 the tables in an hour. Cheers!


Many thanks to Quinton Jay at Panther Creek for forwarding me  tasting notes on the Panther Creek wines binNotes sampled at Pinot in the City which inadvertently didn’t make the original posting!
Panther Creek ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley 2011
Panther Creek ‘Shea Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2009
binNotes Fave : 90% neutral oak – Garnet hue, light body, balanced black fruit, spice, pear. 
Panther Creek ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2009
Panther Creek Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2013
(not tasted but distributed in WA through Grape Expectations.)

Want to learn more about Willamette Valley Wines or Pinot in the City? www.willamettewines.com.



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Thank you:

Emily Petterson, EKP Media

Willamette Valley Wines

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