On the Oregon Trail Part 1: Evesham Wood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008, Willamette Valley

I guess I had the desire to explore North-Western Pinots for quite a while. Unfortunately I wasn’t really able to motivate myself for this challenging task. Well, I really got big problems, right? Not able to motivate myself to drink some damn good wine! Okay, the proliferation in Europe isn’t that good. Excuse enough ;-). Whatever, a couple of weeks ago I discovered a pretty passionate, sometimes really funny, real, maybe a bit amateurish, but surly competent and definitely not over-posed video-blog called “Wine is Serious Business” which intrigued (or infected) me enough to tackle this extremely daring and longing challenge ;-)

I would like to start my Oregon Pinot exploration with an entry-level wine from Evesham Wood Vineyard in Salem. The 2008 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley! Evesham Wood was founded by Russ and Mary Raney in 1986. So, I guess it is one of the older wineries in Willamette Valley. As far as I know the professional wine business started in the late 1960s. Until today, the winery cultivates (resp. purchases from) only 5 hectares of Pinot Noir (various Dijon clones and a few older Pommard clones), Chardonnay (108 clones), Pinot Gris (Colmar clones), Gewurztraminer, the rare Rieselaner (!) and Grüner Veltliner. They all grow on volcanic basalt soils in the Eola Amity Hills. Today’s Pinot is a selection of various vineyards from the outstanding vintage 2008. So, let’s hope I can recollect my thoughts on this wine correctly, because dorky Oh Dae-su has lost his tasting notes!

The colour looked very transparent, but not so bright. A decently dark colouration with a whiff of murkiness (unfiltered, strong sediments). At first the bouquet was dominated by, I just assume, the well-known “Oregon Funk” (a potpourri of flintiness, a bit stinky barn fragrances, dark earth and wet forest leaves). The fruitful flavours of dark forest berries, hints of lemon and a few dark cherries seemed a bit reserved. Besides all that I was under the impression to catch some mineral’ish features. Oak never seemed to a problem. Later, I guess approx. 3 hours, the Oregon Funk eased and serious, maybe slightly austere seeming, well proportionate fruit flavours (more and more dark cherries) evolved. I might describe the overall nose-picture as serious, pretty complex (especially for this price range), earth driven, relatively elegant, not so much hyper-sophisticated (but definitely sophisticat'ish) and beautifully balanced. In the first hour the taste seemed quite tart, very reserved fruitful and acidic. The flavours were dominated by mineral and foliage impressions. I wasn’t worried in this situation, because I sensed a certain quality in this wine which made me more and more confident. After 3 hours and more a serious fruitful character of very tasty dark cherries and some assorted forest berries showed. Definitely not in a lush way! Far more in an elegant and concise way! No sweetness problems! No oak problems! No alcohol problems! No typical and of course totally generalized “New World Pinot” problems at all. One big helper was definitely the great and well proportionated acid (well prop after 2 to 3 hours). On the second day it almost got a bit aristocratic and sublime. No real exaggeration. Well, maybe a bit. I must not forget it was “just” an entry-level Pinot Noir. Cunning structure, great finish, cold-style fruit and decent complexity! Great QPR! Impressive Pinot to start with. Certainly one of the best Pinots I presented on this blog so far. I guess there will be more Happy Days on this Oregon Trail ;-).

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