Panther Creek 2010 Pinot Noir “Winemaker’s Cuvée”

Willamette  Valley, OR; 13% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 6 Oct

PantherCreek_2010_WinemakersCuvee_PNI’m rather late to this wine.  While we got a positive report: “Back to the Panther – Cherries, herbaceous undertones, interesting spice – clove, pepper, tarragon. Really a fascinating wine” (G.L.Pease) we’ve gotten more negative: “matchstick sulfur” (Seedboy) and Brett“The good bottle was quite good. The bad, as dreadful as I’ve ever experienced.” (GLP)  DLuber summarized it as: “the reviews here and on CellarTracker seem to be running about 3:2 shitty (sulfide/mercaptans/Brett) to 90 pt-ers. I’m guessing the whole lot was dumped on GO because they had a bad barrel or two…or three…or more.”

Anyway, my bottle was one of the sulfurous ones, and I will be returning it.

Lim13 reviewed the 2006 Panther Creek Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir here, where others have also commented on this wine.

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44 thoughts on “Panther Creek 2010 Pinot Noir “Winemaker’s Cuvée”

  1. JimH

    After six months I finally tried the second bottle of this and found out what the fuss was about. While the first one was fine, this one really smelled of the sulfurous stink so many others have written. Reminded me of Hugo Chavez’ needling GW Bush about the sulfurous stench when he spoke at the UN several years ago after Bush spoke. At any rate, I ran it through a finer and into a decanter, let it sit for several hours drank some of it and put the rest away to see what will happen, perhaps for the full 48 hours suggested by that sign in Oaktown some months back.

    Reply
      1. JWC

        I popped the cork on one of mine, ran through a vinturi and into a decanter, and let sit for 3 hours. This had worked in the past with a bottle, so was hoping for the best here. No luck, massive stench that wouldn’t quit, returned and exchanged for the Banshee Rose awhile back. Such is life at GO…

        Reply
        1. EHL

          Gotta admire your commitment to your home state’s wineries, JWC, but I guess you have to draw the line somewhere…lol.

          Reply
  2. EHL

    Finally got to my bottle of Panther Creek PN that I bought at Oakland GO several months ago.

    Didn’t have high expectations based on prior personal tastings and all the negative reviews here, but, lo and behold, open opening the aromatic funk was definitely there but nowhere near as bad as other bottles that had accosted my nose.

    After a while, it blew off and the wine itself was pretty tasty, balanced and complex, and it kept improving over the second and third days.

    Compared to other memorable Pinots that I’ve bought recently at GO, like the Sanctuary and Hill Carneros PNs, I’m glad I didn’t pick up any more, but, tellingly, I finished the Panther rather than returning it and was more than satisfied that I had gotten my money’s worth!

    Reply
    1. jwc

      Glad you got a bottle that worked for you EHL, I’ve got a couple of these in the cellar. I have decanted them after running through a vinturi, for 4-5 hours and the rotten egg aroma has blown off, so that’s been my work around. Not something I’d want to do on a regular basis, but manageable. Decent PN once/if you can get past the stench.

      Reply
  3. oregonhandcrafted

    I must have gotten the good bottles from GrossOut Milwaukie, OR. I have been a huge fan of Panther Creek going back to Ken Wright days (early 90s). I have bought cases of Freedom Hill and Youngberg in the past, so swooped up the last six bttles on the shelf. No stink but a little shallow right out of the bottle. Half hour later? Beauty of a wine, nearly perfect pinot if you like a thinner pinot. It’s not my fist choice taste in Pinot (Freedom Hill 06 or 09 were fab), and I’ve become much more of Columbia Valley syrah drinker lately, but I would buy this wine for $6 again in a heartbeat. If you have any left, give it some breathing room.

    Reply
    1. Seedboy

      Wow, I’ve tasted a bunch of bottles of this wine and none of them was worthy. Glad you found some you liked.

      Reply
    2. lim13

      Bet that Freedom Hill was a little more than six bucks a bottle too, eh, OHC? Did the ’06 Freedom Hill you prefer come from GO too? Like the ones I found there for $13 and reviewed here? Seems it was in super short supply and went quickly.

      Reply
    1. lim13

      Welcome to the blog, Adrian. Yet another reason for me to continue to avoid this wine (which is available at the Silverdale GO). I’m really feelin’ like I hit the jackpot by finding the 2006 Panther Creek Freedom Hill Vineyard PN for $12.99 at the same GO (linked in the above review).

      Reply
  4. jimgasperini

    Either there is some genetic variable that makes some of us detect sulphur and some not, or “they had a bad barrel or two…or more” resulting in unusually strong bottle variations.

    My bottle was delicious. I would think of laying down a few (I love the ethereal qualities of nicely aged pinot, and this one seems complex enough to open up after a while) except that years hence I might discover I had bad luck on the bottle draw, too late to be able to take it back.

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Jim and welcome. I’m glad to hear you got one of the good ones. If it’s still there when I get back to the Berkeley store, maybe I’ll try another one.

      Reply
      1. seedboy

        A friend just reported to me that he bought a bottle of this wine and loved it. So, has anyone out there opened multiple bottles and had both experiences?

        Reply
        1. EHL

          I was just at the Oakland Go today……and tasted two bottles of the Panther PN…..one opened yesterday and one opened about an hour before I sampled it. Both were definitely drinkable, the former with a little whiff of funk and the latter with a stronger essence. I was informed they have been selling a lot of it, with very few returns, although the wine staffer indicated he personally couldn’t get past the “aromatic” bouquet to enjoy what the wine offered. Apparently, a number of their patrons could……

          Reply
          1. Seedboy

            EHL I bought another bottle there today and it is the same as I tasted before, the matchstick and the brett fighting for attention. I’m taking it back. Bought the last bottle of the Hill Carneros and it is lovely.

            Reply
            1. EHL

              Hey……SB…….that was my bottle…….they were supposed to put it away for my Sale stash……LOL…….good for you!

    2. Seedboy

      Once a GO wine is scanned into their computer, the record stays there. I’ve brought back corked wines years later.

      Reply
      1. jimgasperini

        That is good to know.
        I bought three more bottles at the Richmond store. As soon as i opened the first one, I knew what earlier comments meant by “sulphur,” even before pouring a glass. Do they have sulphurous hot springs in the Willamette Valley? It smells like that. One of the worst-smelling bottles I’ve ever encountered (actually three of the worst, since all three were the same.)

        Reply
        1. Seedboy

          I have tasted four or five bottles of this wine and every one of them has stunk of sulphur. My theory is that they added it, trying to kill the brett. I would not mind the brett, the sulphur makes it a total do not buy for me. The Oakland store tells me they are selling it like mad.

          Reply
            1. 21stcbacchus

              I purchased a bottle from the Milpitas Grocery Outlet. It was not bad at all. I won’t get into extensive flowery language though. It was light, the odor left after about five minutes. The slightly sulfuric taste was gone in ten minutes. You were left on your pallet with something reminiscent of a French Burgundy. Light, peppery, with a taste of cherry and an aroma to match. Am going to make an attempt to purchase a bottle in Palo Alto and see if I have the same kind of luck.

          1. Darrell

            SB, now I know what you mean by sulfur when you say it was an addition to the wine. Sulfur dioxide is seldom noted in red wines so this is an unusual wine if that’s the case. There is usually enough bound SO2 to prevent oxidation in reds along with phenolic protection. Whites on the other hand have much more free SO2 that tasters often smell or react to, most notably German whites in older days when tasters would have a bout of sneezing after sniffing some of the wines.

            Reply
            1. Expat

              Got two bottles during the sale. Let’s just say that when i stuck my nose in the glass it was as if the wine farted in my face…both bottles. Darrell can parse the specific sulfur terminology but regardless, I was not pleased. I tasted them and thankfully the matchstick/burnt rubber/a**hole notes weren’t on the tongue but it was thin, disappearing and off.

              My plan is to return them and I may taste them before I get back there but I can’t imagine they will transform into anything drinkable. Truly the worst bottle I’ve ever had.

      2. Jim H

        And yet…. When in Oakland store on Thursday one of the wine guys said that a customer came in Wednesday and bought all 25 cases! Maybe he was from the winery, taking it off the market? Not serious there but wondering who will be drinking those 25. My bottle (several weeks ago) was o.k., the sulfurous nose disappeared quickly. Still, 25 cases?

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        1. Expat

          Wow, wonder what the story is on that. I tried it again – still awful. The sulfury smell was lighter but it was even more thin, acidic and off.

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          1. jwc

            Decant the wine for several hours, literally forget about it. The brett should blow off, what’s left is a decent pinot noir. If you choose to PnP, that’s the wrong choice with this flawed wine.

            Reply
            1. lim13

              Just so I’m understanding you correctly, JWC…your suggesting that this is a “decent”, yet “flawed” Pinot? So you must be addressing those readers who already have the wine in hand? It just arrived last Friday at the Silverdale store, but I have zero interest in buying any.

            2. jwc

              Yes Lim13, in the couple of bottles I’ve bought, decanting the wine through a venturi, and then forgetting about it for several hours, has had the best results. I detailed this in one my previous posts some time ago. Once the brett, sulphur aromas disappear, what is left is a pretty well made wine. PnPing this wine will have disastrous results, as have been documented here by various tasters. In fact, taking a whiff from the decanter immediately after airating into it, was enough for me to say Whoa Nelley! The brett/rotten eggs will dissipate given enough time. My experience has been this is the only way to drink this wine, unless you are one of the chosen, who somehow purchased a bottle w/o the brett or rotten egg/sulphur thing. Frankly, its just too much of a hassle to do this repeatedly, which is why the wine is flawed and why its at GO at the low price point in the first place.

            3. permiesworld

              Interestingly enough, I think that wine-makers misunderstand the results of selling off Lots of flawed wine, even to discount grocers like GO. Saturday when we were out wine tasting at vineyards in the Willamette Valley, we drove right by (and did not stop) at the Panther Creek Tasting room when we stopped at several others. Why? This thread. We yearly do the wine tour & purchase local Oregon Pinot at the wineries and vineyards…things like this (or the Terrane/Harrington wines) pretty much make me have no interest to pursue any further exploration. Perhaps they assume that people who shop at places like GO wouldn’t be likely to be a regular customer, but given what I’ve read around here as well as our own buying patterns, they couldn’t be more wrong.

            4. seedboy

              If anyone really still wants some of this it is available at the Berkeley store. But when you can get the Cima Collina, why bother?

  5. Darrell

    If all of us can try to go beyond the loose use of the term sulfur as it is rather nebulous and driving me nuts because it isn’t very accurate in organoleptic description. SB mentioned “matchstick sulfur” which I interpret as sulfur dioxide, SO2, but also has been described as ethyl mercaptan, a compound produced under reduced conditions during winemaking. Sulfides are rather straight forward since this smells of rotten eggs, but the various mercaptans can range from good to innocuous to just plain bad stuff. Large, huge wineries will accumulate all the fermentation lees in a common tank and under these very reducing conditions there will be production of those skunky mercaptans. I am assuming in the 2010 Panther Creek PN, the offending odor isn’t SO2 since this can be ameliorated, but rather a more reduced sulfur compound.

    Reply
  6. jwc

    Yes BW, I understand your reaction on the wine. It’s flawed, likely not the worth the effort and time, I put into it…although after 4 hrs in the decanter and some major swirling along the road, it tasted quite good. I intentionally left some wine in the bottle, without decanting, and tasted it on the 2nd Day. Brett was evident on the nose & taste so, I won’t be buying anymore. Should be interesting what happens in Tanasbourne, they brought in a lot of this, I suspect it will be a tough sell, with many returns.

    Reply
  7. lim13

    Sure wish the 2006 Freedom Hill would find its way to CA and OR, so you could see how different it is from this Pinot. Has anyone considered emailing the winery to see what they might have to say about the detected sulfur?

    Reply
    1. jwc

      I was thinking along the same lines Lim13. Ventured over to Vancouver in hopes of finding the ’06 Freedom Hill Panther Creek. Nothing, in fact the selection there was as poor as I can recall in a long while.

      Reply

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