I made a very difficult decision while visiting Portland in February. On a rainy afternoon, I gave up a precious afternoon beer tasting opportunity to visit Oregon Wines on Broadway to sample three higher end pinot noirs. Rough life eh?
If I could only drink one red wine the rest of my life, it would be pinot noir. At its best, its delicacy, earthiness and balance appeals to my senses. I’ve always thought of pinot noir as one of the truest expressions of wine and the expert craftsmanship that goes into it. Settling into an empty wine bar on a weekday around lunch, I was ready to sample the best of Oregon with a tasting consisting of three outstanding examples of the state’s signature grape.
I started with the J. Christopher Dundee Hills (2013). It was very cherry forward and I immediately noticed a bit of bottle age on this one and a touch more heat from the alcohol than a prototypical pinot. It may have been due to the rain pelting the window as I sampled it, but I quite enjoyed the extra bit of burn of this one going down. It was very pleasant and an easy sipper. My unrefined palate would say this is a great pinot for a fall day.
Next up, the Bergstrom Cumberland Reserve (2014) was far and away my favourite. I tasted dark berries and tobacco from this bolder, fuller-bodied pinot. It crossed my mind that this might actually be able to stand up to leaner red meats. This would age really well. Loved it.
It was while I was enjoying this second wine that I noticed the music in the bar. This is a wine bar with a great playlist – White Stripes, Rhianna, The Clash, The Ting Tings. It was while getting lost in a couple of songs that I made up my mind that I would be bringing my wife back here for a wine tour of the state at some point in the not too distant future.
Back to the tasting… Last was the Patricia Green Broadway Cuvee (2014). It was significantly drier and earthier than the others. I typically like very earthy pinots, but this one wasn’t my cup of tea (compared to the others only… I’d still drink this like a beast if I had a bottle of it at home).
This was a great way to spend some time on a rainy Portland afternoon. My wife and I are planning an upcoming trip to France and this tasting pushed me to dedicate a day of our trip to a wine tour of Burgundy to visit some smaller family-owned wineries and sample a number of old world pinots that aren’t exported. That made this a delicious, and productive, Oregon tasting!