I’ve been trying to get my head around Oregon pinot noir for a few years now. I’m a huge pinot noir fan – I love a lot of California pinots (especially ones that aren’t overripe), and red burgundies, when they are good, are pretty much wine heaven to me. But for some reason, I always found Oregon pinot noirs to be good but not great, with a style that was kind of “in the middle” for me – not as transparent and earthy as burgundies, not as luscious as California pinot. I’m not an expert on Oregon pinots by any stretch, but I’ve had my fair share – over the years I’ve tasted maybe 60-70 wines including pinots from Eyrie, St. Innocent, Domaine Serene, Cristom, Ken Wright Cellars, WillaKenzie, Antica Terra, Bethel Heights, Anne Amie, Belle Pente and others- and I found some very good wines. But I never seemed to find one that I loved. Until now.
In May I attended Wine&Spirits Magazine’s “Top of the List” tasting, and while I was there I got to taste a good cross-section of pinots from Burgundy, California and Oregon – and one winery’s pinot noirs really opened my eyes: Soter Vineyards. I had heard for years that Soter made great wines, but had never had a chance to try any. Their 2007 North Valley pinot noir and 2006 Mineral Springs Ranch pinot noir both had lovely fine-grained tannins and an elegant, nuanced style. I don’t normally gush to winery/distributor reps at these tastings, but I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm about these wines. I told the person pouring the wines that they were the best Oregon pinot noirs I had ever had – and it turned out I was talking to Tony Soter, the owner. Click to see a video about meeting Tony, and video reviews of two vintages each of the North Valley and Mineral Springs Ranch pinot noirs from Soter. Also, you can see my head-to-head comparison of Riedel’s Flow and Tyrol pinot noir glasses, which you can get deals on right now at affordable prices – see which one you should choose! And, below are my written notes for those who are less video-inclined… cheers! -Alan