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OREGON WINES TASTING NOTES

 
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1997 Tualatin Willamette Valley Semi-Sparkling Muscat: Medium straw, with sweet bright honeyed Bartlett pear/Golden Delicious apple flavors and aromas, this has a nice spritz and a fairly long finish. Very refreshing.

1996 Hamacher Oregon Pinot Noir: The Woodman recommended that we try this ruby garnet, knowing that we were on the Pinot trail, and I’m glad he did. The flavors are predominantly tea leaf/black cherry on a smooth elegant frame. The tealeaf dominates the nose, while the black cherry dominates the flavors. A fine Pinot Noir to open tonight!

REX HILL

George Heritier's Tasting Notes:

1997 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Gris $12: Pale straw with a bit of a musty funk on the nose; tart dry green apple flavors with good acidity.

1997 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc $12: Very pale straw; greener green apple than the previous selection, with a hint of detergent; crisp acidity; nice.

1997 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Chardonnay $15: Pale-medium straw; pretty sweet oak/pear nose; flavors echo lightly.

1996 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Chardonnay Reserve $25: Pale-medium straw; spicy sweet oak dominates the pear on the nose; more substantial on the palate than the regular bottling, with creamy pear, spice and some detergent on the finish.

1997 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $20: Ruby garnet; pretty black cherry bouquet with toasty oak overtones that follows through on the palate; a little light on the mid-palate and finish.

1997 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $45: Lighter in color than the regular bottling, but deeper aromas; toast/black cherry flavors and aromas; more substantial on the palate than the regular bottling, and full enough on the mid-palate and finish; elegant, but we all agreed that it’s way overpriced.

1997 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Dry Riesling $10: Almost the color of water; petrol dominates but doesn’t overpower the nose; a hint of sweetness accentuates the Granny Smith green apple flavors; decent acidity.

Allan Bree's Tasting Notes:

1997 Rex Hill Pinot Gris - rather pale color - not much fruit on the nose and not much on the palate either - it's a refreshing quaffer with some bright acidity.

1997 Rex Hill Pinot Blanc - likewise pale color - a hint of mushroomy funk in the nose - cleaner on the palate - the fruit is nicer with a rather pleasant astringency - not too bad a value for 12 dollars. This would be a good shellfish wine.

1997 Rex Hill Chardonnay - pretty and sweet Chardonnay fruit perfume in the nose with floral notes - quite attractive - slightly less successful on the palate - the wine shows a characteristic tartness and refreshing acidity that shows through all of this producer's white wines. It is also a good shellfish wine, however, it is a different expression of this grape, and a certainly not the forward, fruity, fat and oaky Chardonnays that we frequently find in California. Fifteen dollars.

1996 Rex Hill Chardonnay reserve - slightly honeyed notes in the nose with ripe Chardonnay fruit - this wine enjoys no success on my palate - very thin entry - lacking in the mid-palate - the wine may have been overoaked in an effort to compensate for lack of fruit - all in all a very unimpressive effort, especially considering the 25 dollar price tag.

1997 Rex Hill Vino del Nino - Pinot Noir for 5 bucks a bottle - light color with sweet strawberry aromas on the nose - a little thin and stemmy on the palate, but it's a cleanly made wine, and for the price will probably make a good summer quaffer.

1997 Rex Hill Pinot Noir King's Ridge - Medium color - still lighter spectrum of fruit in the nose - more toward red cherry and red & purple plum and spice - on the palate, the fruit is defeated by stemmy flavors and wood tannins - I don't know if there is enough fruit for this wine to ever come into balance. $14.

1997 Rex Hill Pinot Noir - Bright, even sparking color - a very clean looking wine - deeper and richer colors and aromas in the nose - very nice cherry and plum notes - quite pleasant light to medium weight fruit flavors on the palate, but there are some unresolved fruit and wood tannins - given two or three years, the wine might be a bit more balanced and pleasing to drink. Not a bad buy at $20.

1997 Rex Hill Pinot Noir Reserve - a blend from three vineyards - offered as futures at $35 - brighter Pinot fruit and perfume on the nose - the first of the Pinots with some intensity of flavor, but even so, a medium weight wine - much more impressive with characteristic cherry and purple plum notes that seem to dominate the flavor profile of these wines - not as much of the fairly firm acids that also seem to dominate these wines. Still, it lacks a certain intensity that I would expect to find in a wine that will command a $50 price tag when it is released.

ARGYLE

George Heritier's Tasting Notes:

1997 Argyle Willamette Valley Chardonnay $13: Very pale straw; smells and tastes more like Chenin Blanc, with very light apple and spice flavors.

1997 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $14: Ruby garnet; nice black cherry bouquet with a whiff of smoke follows through on the palate with a rather lean frame.

1997 Argyle Willamette Valley Brut $21: Pale straw; subtle yeast over green apple flavors and aromas with a fine bead; good fruit, but the QPR is only so-so.

1988 Argyle Willamette Valley Brut $30: 70 % Chardonnay, 30 % Pinot Noir; recently disgorged; medium straw, with a musty funky nose; tastes almost oxidized, with a nutty quality; Bree said it reminded him of dried Porcini mushrooms; good bead; Jeff and Mary Lynn liked this, but Kim, Bree and I didn’t.

1996 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Cowhouse $35: Ruby garnet, with smoky black cherry/tea leaf flavors and aromas on a delicate frame; overpriced.

1996 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Reserve $35: More smoky black cherry flavors and aromas on a delicate frame; a little vacant on the mid-palate and finish; overpriced.

1996 Argyle Willamette Valley Chardonnay Nuthouse $28: This pale straw also tastes more like Chenin Blanc; very light and insubstantial; overpriced.

Allan Bree's Tasting Notes:

1997 Argyle Dry Reserve Reisling - pleasing Reisling notes in the nose - very firm acid structure demands that this wine be properly paired with food, otherwise it would be pretty tough to drink.

1997 Argyle Pinot Gris - a little light in the nose, with a cheesey "dirty socks" aroma - very pretty fruit on the palate with good balance and a clean finish - a nice quaffer or summer appetizer wine.

1996 Argyle Chardonnay Nuthouse - somewhat nondescript Chardonnay - not terribly interesting.

1996 Argyle Pinot Noir Reserve - slightly brickish color - pleasing sweet Pinot fruit in the nose - very nice ripe Pinot fruit with some unresolved fruit tannins on the palate that do not detract from the wine - given another year or two of bottle age, this could turn out to be a very pretty Pinot. $35.

1996 Argyle Pinot Noir Cowhouse - slightly more restrained with more earthy and mushroom notes in the nose with a touch of smoke - smooth tannins in the mouth that need to resolve - both of these wines are enjoyable, but not for $35. $20 would be a more realistic price.

WILLAKENZIE

George Heritier's Tasting Notes:

1997 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc $14: Very pale, with a green apple/mineral/detergent nose; nice rich round flavors echo; low residual sugar.

1997 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Pinot Gris $15: Very pale; more residual sugar and riper green apple character than the previous selection.

1996 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Chardonnay $15: Pale straw, with a pretty vanilla/pear bouquet; flavors echo, but they’re not particularly bumptious.

1997 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Chardonnay "Estelle" $25: Pale straw; subtle but pretty bouquet of pear/vanilla; bigger, brighter and riper than the ’96 regular bottling, with some nice spice to boot; good acidity; perhaps a little overpriced.

1996 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Gamay Noir $16: Ruby garnet, with bright black cherry aromas and a touch of toasty oak; flavors are rather dull and short; not up to snuff.

1997 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Pinot Meunier $19: Ruby garnet, with sweet oak/black cherry flavors and aromas; decent body and concentration; Bree liked this enough to buy some.

1997 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $20: Ruby garnet, with black cherry flavors and aromas; not particularly ripe and round, but rather a little flat and dull.

Allan Bree's Tasting Notes:

1997 WillaKenzie Pinot Blanc Estate - pale brass color - a little light on fruit, but not too heavily oaked - light and refreshing - a nice quaffer for afternoon drinking on the deck.

1997 WillaKenzie Pinot Gris Estate - likewise unimpressive nose - a touch of residual sugar that brightens the flavors just a bit - another good summer deck wine.

1996 WillaKenzie Chardonnay - from "California clones" - pretty straw color - a touch of ripe fruit and sweet oak in the nose - a refreshing enough wine, but lacks fruit in the midpalate and finishes a bit short - light weight entry - not badly priced at $15.

1997 WillaKenzie Chardonnay - from Dijon clones - similar color - more intense and attractive fruit in the nose - a very flavorful wine with good acid structure - clean, somewhat tart finish - a nice enough wine, but not worth the $25 asking price.

1997 WillaKenzie Gamay Noir - fairly deep color - shy red cherry and rhubarb notes on the nose - lacks the sweet fruit I would expect from this type of wine - some stem tannins on the finish - not terribly attractive.

1997 WillaKenzie Pinot Meunier - pretty medium color - pleasing smoky and rich Pinot notes in the nose - pleasant cherry flavors with hints of smoke and spice - there are some nice stemmy- like flavors on the finish, but generally is a nice mouthful of wine. One of only two produced in Oregon.

1997 WillaKenzie Pinot Noir - from five or six vineyard sources - slightly lighter color than the Meunier, but good varietal Pinot aromas - pretty medium weight flavors on the front of the palate, but still has some smooth fruit tannins that need to resolve a bit - a nice Pinot, reasonably priced at $20.

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