Utopia is located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, which is a sub-AVA within Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Many people in the wine industry applaud Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir for its dark fruit character, elegance, bright acidity and expressive spice notes.
We certainly noticed this in the Utopia wines we sampled. We are new fans and recommend you check them out. Read on to find out why.
Utopia Vineyard and Winery
First, why is the winery called Utopia? Its website states that “utopia is the perfect place and no place.” As Utopia founder and winemaker Dan Warnshuis explains, he tries to make perfect Pinot Noir, but since achieving true perfection is not possible for anyone, he tries instead to make the wine better in every vintage. We sampled six of his wines, and we can definitely say it works!
Dan’s first commercial vintage of Pinot Noir occurred in 2006. Now, he also produces Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Late Harvest Riesling and GSM.
In addition to being Utopia’s founder and winemaker, Dan is also president of the Ribbon Ridge Winegrowers Association and heads an initiative for area vineyards to be farmed without herbicides.
Utopia Estate Pinot Noir Blanc “Bliss” 2017, $45
A pretty peach color, Bliss opens with aromatics of citrus and melon, followed by rich flavors of more citrus and melon, plus white peach and strawberry. Wine Enthusiast named Bliss an Editor’s Choice. What a treat – bring on summer!
Utopia Estate Chardonnay 2017, $45
This Chardonnay is bright, fresh, clean and crisp, with just a kiss of oak and minerality, which we prefer. It features flavors of apple, pear, citrus and white peach. Unlike some whites, this Chardonnay can be enjoyed over the next 5-6 years.
Utopia Estate Reserve Pinot Noir Paradise 2016 and 2017, $65
The words that come to mind when tasting the 2017 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir are gorgeous, smooth, silky and outstanding. This elegant wine opens with a beautiful nose, followed by flavors of cherry, cola, cranberry, herbs and cassis, layered with spices. We haven’t loved a Pinot Noir as much as this one in a long time, if ever.
We also tasted Utopia Estate Pinot Noir 2016 and 2017, The Utopia Vineyard ($48). Again, the 2016 showcases the special fruit of this vintage. Inviting berry aromas lead into blue and black fruit, with hints of chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon on the palate. We really enjoyed this full-bodied wine.
Both the 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir are pleasing, clean and balanced, and both show excellent potential. But they still seem young, even with decanting. We can’t wait to try them again in a year or two.
Above all, if you aren’t familiar with Utopia wines, we highly recommend you try them. You can order them online or, if you’re in the Willamette Valley, Utopia will be open daily, by appointment only, as of May 23. More details are available at Utopia Vineyard and Winery.
Many thanks to Utopia for the wine samples. Next time we are in Oregon, we will stop by to purchase some of these stellar wines.
Margot and Dave