Update: Utopia Vineyard and Winery

Utopia Vineyard and WineryAbout one month ago, we told you about our recent experience tasting wine from Utopia Vineyard and Winery. We also shared our thoughts on Utopia Pinot Noir Blanc “Bliss,” Chardonnay, Pinot Noir Paradise and Utopia Estate Pinot Noir. Subsequently, we had the fortune to taste two more wonderful Utopia wines – a Rosé and another Pinot Noir. We can’t wait to tell you about them.

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Alluring Alloro

Alloro 2017 Pinot NoirLocated 30 miles southwest of Portland, Alloro Vineyard features alluring Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and more from a gorgeous property in Laurelwood District AVA. This new AVA, at the north end of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, takes its name from distinct soil in the area. Laurelwood is an exceptionally fine windblown soil, with silt-sized sediment formed by erosion of volcanic rocks by glaciers. We received samples of Alloro Vineyard Estate 2017 Pinot Noir and 2018 Chardonnay, and can attest to their distinct, terroir-driven flavors. Continue reading

Lovely Lenné Estate Pinot Noir

Lenne Estate Pinot NoirWe recently tasted two Lenné Estate Vineyard  barrel-selection Pinot Noirs, which were simply lovely and unlike any others we have tasted. More about the wines shortly, but first here is some information about the vineyard, and why the wines are unique.

In 2000, Steve and Karen Lutz purchased a 21-acre property near Yamhill, Oregon in the Willamette Valley. One year later, they began planting Pinot Noir on 15 acres in their new Lenné Estate Vineyard. The vineyard name pays tribute to Karen’s father Lenny, who helped with the downpayment but sadly passed away in 1999.
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Panther Creek: Thirty Years of Pinot

panther-creekPanther Creek in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is celebrating its 30th anniversary of making Pinot Noir, which is a perfect reason to raise a glass or two of their fine wines over the holidays.

Renowned Oregon Pinot winemaker Ken Wright founded Panther Creek Cellars in 1986; in 1994, he sold the winery and opened Ken Wright Cellars in Carlton. Other winemakers succeeded him at Panther Creek and by 2013, current winemaker Tony Rynders of Domaine Serene took the helm. One year later, Panther Creek moved to its tasting room in Dundee.

Panther Creek specializes in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, all of which go well with holiday meals; or you could take a bottle or two to those numerous parties on your calendar this month.

panther-creek-1The winery’s 2014 vintage was recently released, and we were fortunate to receive two samples, plus a bonus wine to pour in a side-by-side tasting.

Of note, all young pinots should be decanted for 2-3 hours so you can really enjoy the flavors. This gives you time to prepare your appetizers or your meal, so it’s a good thing!

 

2014 Panther Creek Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Cuvee ($30)

This classic Oregon Pinot Noir opens with spicy aromas and moves to red, ripe fruit flavors and earthy notes. It would pair well with turkey or even a turkey sandwich, or if you want something besides the big bird, you could try it with cedar-plank salmon, pork tenderloin or any dish with mushrooms.

From the winemaker tasting notes:
“Reminisce about those delicious La Vie de la Vosgienne Framboises candies in the round tins, highlighted by dark fruit and cola and balanced with fine grain tannins. A mélange of varying soil types create a youthful Pinot Noir with a beautiful blend of flavor profiles and textures…gorgeous and easy to enjoy.”

2013 and 2014 Panther Creek Schindler Vineyard Pinot Noir ($50)
Think big, think age-worthy and take a sip. You’ll understand why Tony Rynders refers to these wines as a “beast” or “monster.”

We opened both bottles at the same time, so we could do a side-by-side tasting. The 2013 showed black-cherry fruit with hints of cedar and earth. As mentioned earlier, these pinots should be decanted. But the 2013 should be cellared first for a few years to really enjoy it. Our friend, Jenise Stone, who has an incredible palate, put it this way: “Let this puppy sleep.”

From the winemaker tasting notes (2013):
“Watch out! This is a big, masculine black fruited beauty. Light smoke with delicate coffee undertones support the expansiveness and fine grain tannins of this monster. The silky explosion of black fruit leaves a lasting appropriately weighted finish…extremely cellar-worthy.”

The 2014 was bigger, a chewy wine with black fruit and classic Pinot Noir savory characteristics such as earth, mushrooms and dark fruit.

From the 2014 tasting notes:
“Dark and brooding blue, purple and black fruit, shrouding a monumental foundation of granite and incredible structure, this is a very big boy that will mature fantastically. Looking for a massive Pinot? This monster is it.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.45.13 PMYou can meet winemaker Tony Rynders and taste his wines at the 2nd annual Northwest Wine Encounter at the scenic Semiahmoo Resort, April 28-30, 2017. We attended last year’s inaugural event and are looking forward to the 2017 activities. (More about the event will be posted here in the new year.)

Cheers!
Margot and Dave