The Second Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir (Part Five)

Last month, I put out a call for samples for my Second Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir. For last year’s Tasting, I received 31 wines, which made for a healthy representation of Pinot Noir from Oregon and California. This year, I expected to receive a similar number.

Nope.

Thanks to the fine people at Willamette Valley Wine and Pinot in the City* as well as Jackson Family Wines, the response was close to overwhelming. In fact, I decided to split the tasting into two days since I received one hundred bottles of Pinot Noir (actually it was 166 bottles if you count the wineries that sent two bottles of each wine).

I thought the table might give out….

*Pinot in the City is a large tasting of Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and it is coming to Houston in February! You can get tickets and more information HERE.

Since there were a hundred wines to taste through, I decided to break it up over two days. We had 52 on Saturday and the remaining 48 we cracked open on Sunday. The first sets of tasting notes can be found HERE.

What I noticed with this group? As the tasting plodded along, my notes tended to get shorter. While that might not come as a shock to many, I can assure you it was not from inebriation (we were spitting out every wine) but rather from a bit of fatigue. One grows weary five or six hours into any endeavor.

2016 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $40. Strawberry jam a go-go on the nose and also on the palate, this is a lovely, fruity expression of Pinot. Excellent. 92-94 Points.

2016 Cambria Pinot Noir Clone 667 Barbara’s Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $80. A lovely nose of black cherry pie with a sliver of vanilla ice cream on the side. Wonderful balance, with luscious fruit, nice level of tartness, slight tannins, lovely finish. Whoa. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

2018 Ridgecrest Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge, OR: Retail $45. Slightly cough syrupy on the nose, and mostly about the fruit on the palate. This is another lovely wine, with a heavy focus on the fruit. Excellent. 90-92 Points.

2018 Chemistry Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $19. Meaty and cranberry on the nose, a bit thin on the palate, a little lacking in fruit, but decent acidity. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2017 La Crema Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $35. Cherry vanilla with a bit of spice and earth. Big fruit and quite tannic, this is a rather healthy, muscular wine. Not really my style, but it is darn good. Excellent. 92-94 Points.

2016 Saffron Fields Vineyard Pinot Noir Dijon Clones Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton, OR: Retail $60. A bit dirtier, with minerality at the forefront on the nose along with some funk. Lovely fruit, nice acidity on the backend, good tannins. Lovely. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

Now I need to find space for the “seconds.”

2015 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir Basalt Block Willamette Valley, McMinnville, OR: Retail $48. Another slightly dirty wine with cranberry and a bit of cherry. Whoa. Three stellar wines in a row here. Great fruit, tartness, lengthy finish. Yum. Excellent. 92-94 Points.

2016 Elizabeth Chambers Cellar Pinot Noir Lazy River Vineyard Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton, OR: Retail $55. Slightly cough syrupy both on the nose and the palate, this is pleasant, though, with a lengthy finish. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.

2017 Elizabeth Chambers Cellar Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley, McMinnville, OR: Retail $35. Slightly funky but good fruit with a bit of eucalyptus. Fruity, tasty, lovely. Initially, I thought I was not going to care too much for this, but it is quite nice. Excellent. 90-92 Points.

2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $35. A tad meaty with dark fruit and a bit of earth. Another lovely wine: great fruit, balance, spice. Yum. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

2018 Hyland Estates Pinot Noir Old Vine Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. A bit funky and slight menthol notes on the nose. The palate is heavy: dark, a bit brooding. Good fruit, plenty of tannins. Good. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

2015 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir Cygnus Block Brittan Vineyards Willamette Valley, McMinnville, OR: Retail $65. Stewed and certainly seems “old” the palate is fantastic. This is right up my alley. Certainly a whoa. Think “Corton with even better fruit.” Outstanding. 94-96 Points.

2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands, CA: Retail $35. Strawberry jam in a glass. Tons of fruit here. Tons. Rich and delicious. My wife’s wheelhouse. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

2016 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Machado Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $80. Rich and loaded with fruit. Strawberry and eucalyptus. Fantastic wine. Whoa. Outstanding. 94-96 Points.

2016 Stoller Pinot Noir Helen’s Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills, OR: Retail $75. Darker fruit, a bit of funk, some red fruit. Really tasty, plenty of yum. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

2016 Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $28. Dark red fruit, a bit of earth, some lovely notes, most of them dark. Spice. Very nice. Excellent. 90-92 Points.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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