2011 Patton Valley Estate Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon
I opened this the same night as the Ochota Barrels Syrah that I praised in the last post, but I put this on the backburner until I got over my wine-crush with the Syrah. Similarly to the Ochota Barrels, I got this for the ridiculous price of $19 from Garagiste, almost half off what the winery sells it for at the cellar door. This was our salvation after being disappointed by a previous bottle we opened on Thanksgiving that was corked. It met my expectations at every level and rescued us from the damp, musty sadness that is the result of Trichloroanisole, the chemical compound that causes wine to be corked.
2011 started off as a difficult vintage in the Willamette Valley due to a long, stubborn winter, but a dry fall allowed the grapes to ripen and yield some exceptional wines. The vintage was not loved by the dictators of the wine press but the most experienced winemakers, including Patton Valley, created classic and elegant Burgundian (think earthy, not ripe fruit bomb) Pinot Noir.
The wine has a bright ruby color. Abundant, attractive nose with a lot going on: packed with dark/candied cherries, earthy, woody, spicy, sweet tobacco, and some funky mushroom. There is also a hint of something vegetal/green in here, but it's very faint. This checks off all of the classic, cool-climate Pinot Noir characteristics that I look for from Oregon Pinot Noir.
On the palate, it's lively and fresh with a healthy backbone of acidity balanced by soft and silky tannins. The palate is very reflective of the nose and ended with a slightly sweet, medium-length finish. This bottle was excellent from start to finish. I think this could be even better after a few more years in the bottle, even with the screw cap closure.
100% of the grapes in this wine are certified through Salmon Safe and LIVE. Salmon Safe is a certification unique to the Pacific Northwest that focuses on reducing harmful chemical/pesticide runoff that hurts salmon from all types of agriculture, including vineyards. LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) is also a sustainability certification unique to the Pacific Northwest, but it's more comprehensive than Salmon Safe because it includes winery and viticultural practices and takes into account everything from integrated pest management, chemical/pesticide reduction, greenhouse gases, energy efficiency, and more. I'm naturally supportive, as before I started working in solar energy industry, I worked with LIVE and the Oregon Environmental Council to integrate the greenhouse gas standards into the their certification framework. If you'd like to learn more about Patton Valley's sustainability practices, you can find additional information on their website.
Highly recommended: a textbook, cool-vintage Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The 2011 bottle is sold out on Patton Valley's website, but the 2010 and 2012 estate are still available for the same price. If you happen to be in the Willamette Valley, I recommend a visit to the winery/tasting room to try all of their wines, including their "Fu-Mei" Pinot Noir Blanc.