Tue 21 Aug 2012
One of the interesting aspects of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine region is that few vineyards are planted on the valley floor, because the soil is too good, too rich, dense with the nutrients of ancient floods and river deposits. The vineyards tend to be planted on the hillsides, above 200 feet, where the soil composition is more spare and more demanding and requires the vines to work for their nourishment. This phenomenon is true of Burgundy, for example, where the best vineyards, the Premier and Grand Crus, are planted in the mid-range of the southeast facing slopes; lower and higher are the vineyards that produce the more generic “village” wines. Of course Willamette and Burgundy also share a red grape, the noble pinot noir. Anyway, several of the Willamette’s sub-appellations include the designations “hills” in their titles, such as Dundee Hills and Eola-Amity Hills, and it’s from Dundee that today’s Wine of the Week originates.
The Sokol-Blosser Pinot Noir 2009, Dundee Hills, Oregon, is an organically-produced wine that contains 87 percent estate grapes. The winery was founded by Oregon pioneers Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser in 1971, when grapes were quite new to Willamette Valley; they were preceded by Dick Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards in 1965 and Dick Erath in 1967. Sokol Blosser in now run by siblings Alison and Alex Sokol Blosser; winemaker since 1998 has been Russ Rosner. The Sokol-Blosser Pinot Noir 2009 aged in French oak for 16 months in 44 percent new barrels. The color is a lovely ruby-mulberry hue, with a rim just tinged with violet. The whole package displays exquisite poise and balance, though as is typical with Dundee pinot noirs the wine emphasizes a distinct earthy, loamy character that begins with briers and brambles and ends with deeper inflections of graphite and truffles. Red and black cherries and plums with a slight tang of red currants and cranberries are woven with notes of cola and cloves and a smoky back-note. Tannins are grainy and modulated but with enough bark and bite to let you know they’re right there at the threshold. The texture is smooth, dense and satiny. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2017 to ’19. Excellent. About $38.
A sample for review.