When I would say to my friends that I am going to Pinot Camp they looked at me funny and said…”What is Pinot Camp?”. It certainly is a fair question since it sounds kind of odd just put like that. Oregon Pinot Camp, held in the heart of the Willamette Valley is an organization dedicated to helping educate those in the wine industry about this region of the United States that is rich in wine history and of course, Pinot Noir.
As we all know, Oregon does more than just Pinot Noir, but it is this red that has put them on the map as a region of the world to take notice of. OPC is a place for those of us in the wine world to go to gain more appreciation of what this area is all about.
I will attempt to give you a rundown of each day’s events. It is a short camp, but packed with activities. I want to relay to you what I have experienced. I have waited a long time to be here, and am very excited to be a part of this adventure in 2016. I would like to take a moment to thank my boss for letting me go, since it is dangerously close to our busiest time of the year. I have confidence that my assistant will keep things going while I am gone.
Day 1…Checking in.
I drove down to McMinville on Saturday and was greeted at the hotel by the assistant wine maker for Firesteed, Peter (sorry,I forgot his last name). It was a nice touch to have someone from a winery at the hotel to watch over all of us. After checking in, we all caught a bus to Sokol Blosser for registration, wine tasting and food. Sokol Blosser is a beautiful property with vineyards at the base of Dundee Hills.
Check in was seamless and the crew was friendly and accommodating. There were 50 wineries represented at the tasting under covered booths on the lawn. The weather was perfect and the wines were amazing. Food was provided by Crown Paella and it was an amazing spread. I didn’t have time to taste through all the wines there, but I did find a couple that I had never tried and I would like to share those with you. Before I do that however, I would like to say that although the majority of wines were Pinot Noir, there were quite a few whites as well. Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and white blends were all there along with of course… Rose’.
There were a couple of wines that really stood out to me. Alexana Winery 2014 Pinot Noir was absolutely stunning. A nose of cinnamon and Asian spices lured me in immediately. Very delicate on the palate with loads of cherries and Asian spices coming through seamlessly front to back. Red flower notes underneath with a hit (slight) of white pepper sneaking into the party on the finish. This baby has everything I look for in a good Pinot and although I have no idea of the price, I will seek it out.
At the Anne Amie table I had the chance to taste a “kitchen sink” white blend that really showed well. 2015 Cuvée A Amrita was light on the palate and a “10” in the delicious category. It wanted to be sweet, but never went there. Good balance of acidity and fruit made it both a good food white and a good summer sipper. I could see this with shellfish, white fish or Asian fare. It was perfect with the paella.
The 2014 Brooks Pinot Noir was an excellent example of why folks that love Burgundy, tend to favor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Very earthy with notes of rusty cherries and tobacco and an underscore of red flowers. Balanced acidity with a little “dirt” thrown in the picture makes this a Burgundy lovers dream without the outrageous price tag. This baby will age nicely over the next 5-8 years.
The 2014 Hyland Estates Riesling made the Riesling geek in me come out in spades. As soon as I put my nose to it and smelled rubber boot, I had to give it a whirl. Diesel and apples on the palate backed by balanced, not cutting acidity. It had a little mushroom element to it that rounded it out. I could have used a little more acid, but overall, I thought this was an excellent Riesling that would make any fan of old world Riesling happy.
The 2014 St. Innocent Vitae Springs Vineyard Pinot Blanc really caught my attention. This is new world all the way, but certainly has enough going on to please most palates, I was particularly impressed with the balance of acid and fruit. The mid-palate showed a ton of muscle, but then it drifted into a drier finish. I am quite sure this bottle is going to be expensive, but for those of you that would like to experience a Pinot Blanc for the first time, this would be a good place to start.
If the rest of the camp is anything like the reception, I am in for an experience of a lifetime. I will keep you posted.
Stan The Wine Man