Quest Cellars, Eola-Amity Hills Oregon
TITRATABLE ACIDITY: 5.42g/L
Purchased: Salem, OR 9-27-2014
In view the conversation that some of us had on the Mayerdale Pinot Noir 2009 (a review I posted yesterday) regarding the higher alcohol wines, I wanted to comment on Oregon’s 2009 Pinot Noir vintage. Early on (and actually well into summer) it was considered a warmer, ideal vintage for the Willamette Valley. Growers were happy about the potential of a huge harvest with very ripe fruit and it nearly panned out exactly as they hoped; except for the early rains. The very hot summer caused some growers to be completely unprepared for the rains that fell unexpectedly before all the harvests were in. Again, this caused some growers to have to deal with the Botrytis bunch rot (not to be confused with Noble Rot) that we have mentioned before. This puts 2009 into what, I consider, somewhat of a gamble, whether I’ll like the wine or not. If picked late, it was up to the growers to sort well. If they did, or if they harvested in time, you will find rich, medium-ish body, somewhat fruit forward (and yes, higher alcohol content) Pinot Noir.
Because Pinot Noir is one of those wines whose taste is so affected by its environment, it opens up great potential for varying tastes, depending on where you sample over the valley; everything from cranberry to black tea, earthy to pine or coniferous resin, plum to spicy, cherry to rhubarb…you’ll find it in Willamette Valley and it does seem to be showcased in the warmer years. (Conversely, I find I much prefer the cooler-year Napa Cabernet for exactly the same reason…location and nuance!) The cooler year (i.e. 2011) Pinot Noir harvests do have a tendency to taste thin and under-ripe to me.
Back to 2009. A skilled winemaker could take the opportunity, with such a bountiful harvest, to produce an excellent and hopefully balanced wine; even with the higher alcohol content.
This Quest Pinot Noir is currently for sale at the Quest website for $28.00. They state that this wine is “hand produced” (if someone can define for me exactly what a wine maker means when the say that, it would be appreciated) and that they use 32% new Oak (bottle says French Oak), barrel aging for 13 months.
I would call this an upper-middle quality Oregon Pinot Noir. There is some sediment so I poured it using the Nuance Winefiner. Color is a darker purple/red, unusual for Pinot Noir. Oddly, considering it has a higher alcohol percentage than yesterday’s review, it tastes quite balanced. It has a rounder mouthfeel than the Mayerdale as well, not as layered. There is a nice balance between plum, spice and tobacco, but this is still very much tasting like Pinot Noir and doesn’t drift over to the Cabernet style wine (sometimes the heavier, plummy Pinot can have a crossover taste to me). The body is light-medium, no glycerin. I can easily see it selling for $28. No idea how GO acquired it but it’s another hearty thumbs up to me. I actually cannot decide which one I like better. Taste-wise, this is absolutely lovely while the Mayerdale is more interesting. I hope that makes sense.