Forest floored…Oregon Pinot Noir report, part 2

Dewey Kelly.jpgThe Portland Indie Wines Festival’s back room was a quick 40 feet over a linking cement path that required a walk OUTDOORS. It was actually nice to walk outside for a few moments before plunging into the second wave.
Impressions shared later that evening included the following big pictures: (1) vintage preference was for 2007 over 2006; and (2) Ribbon Ridge is the region to watch. The tBoW team’s vintage preference was unpopular especially among vintners. One winery told us a subscriber wanted to refuse the 2007 vintage and wait for 2008. The 2006 vintage is widely viewed as ripe and bombastic sporting higher alcohol levels and forward fruit. The 2007 vintage is lean and limp, “disappointing” by comparison. 2007 was cool and late to ripen. Murray the K notes vintners who waited for Indian Summer did best in 2007.
As always it depends on what you like (even if it means being WRONG). You want big and ripe try Santa Barbara County. If you prefer lean and more exotic stay with Burgundy and Burgundian styles. In other words, the 2007 vintage wines tasted in Oregon, at the festival and in the Valley, were closer to Burgundy. And you just do not get that in any California Pinot Noir wines, with a very few exceptions (e.g., McKenzie Mueller, possibly Chasseur).
Certain phrases come up repeatedly when describing Pinot Noir: barnyard (poopy), cherry, strawberry, exotic spices (turmeric, curry, saffron) and forest floor. lostcityz.jpgThat last one – forest floor – is the most elusive. What exactly is on the forest floor? Maybe because tBoW just finished reading The Lost City of Z which goes on for pages describing what is lying in layers rotting on the forest floor that he was more attuned to the suggestion. We smelled and tasted the forest floor in the festival’s back room and again in Carlton and Ribbon Ridge the next day. The good news is the 2007 vintage delivers forest floor in heaps unlike 2006 which is fruit driven and more viscous.
The tBoW team consistently preferred the 2007 wines. Lighter in color and weight, more delicate, lower alcohols, more elegant, better balanced. Conclusion? Look for wineries that may “dump” their 2007 Pinot Noir wines in the SoCal markets.
Ribbon Ridge is in the northern section of the roughly four-square Newberg-Dundee-Carlton-Ribbon Ridge area. Here is a link to a description of the Ribbon Ridge region. RR became an AVA in 2005. It has fewer vineyards and newer wineries than its neighbors including a few notable older vineyards. It is less publicized. The climate is a bit cooler. Stay frosty for Ribbon Ridge.
To the wines.
Accolade.jpg Longsword NV Accolade Sparkling Chardonnay $20: That is correct sir. A slightly sparkling chardonnay full of spicy apple and cinnamon flavors. Light alcohol. No cork. No screwtop. Pop that cap with a churchkey. He calls it the perfect wedding wine. Needs to be half the price to be “tBoW perfect” but it certainly is tasty.
2006 Monks Gate Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir $26: Very small production wines well priced. The 2006 is smoky, acidic.

2005 Monks Gate Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir
$26: The 2005 is leaner. The Monks Gate vineyard is Yamhill-Carlton which is the sweet spot. These are nice wines. We just thought there were slightly better ones.
Mr Quady North.jpg
2006 Quady North Applegate North Cabernet Franc
$35: Another real cute couple making wine. Yes, they are related to Quady of Napa fame. And this is a pretty nice wine with anise and mint in the nose and mouth. Like a poor man’s Phelps Insignia. With some pepper. 14%
dkeelyPN2006.jpg2006 Ribbon Ridge Dewey Kelly Pinot Noir $22: Bingo. The winemaker at Ribbon Ridge VIneyard is Dewey Kelly. He made this wine for himself. Wife Robin collects the dough. At this price and this quality level they had to sell out. 700 cases of his “white label” wine with his name on it real big. Baking powder nose, baking soda in the mouth, 100% new oak for 10 months. This is his entry level. Funky nose. Cola and black fruit flavors. 2006 fruity with a deft and restrained touch. Has the 2006 higher alcohol. After all that negative talk on 2006 tBoW bought half a case. Maybe Dewey is maybe Dewey ain’t Paul Lato. tBoW felt he found a fine winemaker and will be looking for his 2007s. [ed. that’s Dewey at top of page] 14.3%
7heartseolaamityPN2007.gif2007 Seven of Hearts Eola-Amity Hills Reserve Pinot Noir $42: Dotoré was McLovin this wine. Nice enough and a 2007. Probably suffering from Dewey hangover effect.
2007 Vidon Vineyard 3 Clones Pinot Noir $39: Good nose, flavors trying to focus the wine but high alcohol does not meld well. 14.7%
winderleapinotnoirbottle07.jpg2007 Winderlea ANA Pinot Noir $45: More cola and baking soda nose and flavors. Flavors like Dewey’s wine even though it from Dundee Hills. Liked these wines. 385 cases. Low alcohol. 13.5%
2007 Patricia Green Reserve Pinot Noir $25: We ate at a highly reputed Portland restaurant that evening that recently lost its very popular chef along with considerable cachet. The meal and service were fine however the wine was most exciting. Patricia Green is a very hot Oregon winemaker whose wines are hard to come by. We grabbed this 2007 off the list. Exotic mushroom nose, i.e., the forest floor. Flavors equally exotic. Weight is light yet color is dark jewel red. Notable acid yet remains balanced. Comes off a tad thin. From 25 year old vines in Ribbon Ridge. 13%
Next stop…Willamette Valley and two winery winners from Ribbon Ridge.

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