I thought these eight examples of Willamette Valley pinot noir — seven from 2015, one from ’14 — were splendid. Each is worthy of going to some effort to find. As usual in the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew data concerning technical, historical and geographical matters for the sake of brief, incisive notices ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and intended to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy! In moderation, of course.

These wines were either samples for review or were tasted at trade events.


Cooper Mountain Pinor Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 14.2% alc. Transparent medium ruby-mulberry hue; warm, rich and spicy; ripe black and red currants and cherries, cloves and sandalwood, sassafras and oolong tea; dense and supple, dusty tannins, briers and brambles; dark woodsy and meadowy, gets denser and earthier, potent with mineral-flecked loam; whiffs of black pepper and violets. An exciting pinot noir, now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent, and a bargain at the price. About $25.


Cooper Mountain Meadowlark Mountain Terrace Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. 13.5% alc. Transparent medium ruby color; a substantial pinot noir, bursting with notes of damp loam, cloves and allspice, sandalwood and sassafras; black and red currants with hints of blueberries and cranberries; lively and dynamic, rooty, briery and sinewy; elements of herbal tea, wood smoke, moss and sauteed mushrooms; deep, complex, earthy. Through 2024 or ’26, properly stored. Excellent. About $60.


Portlandia Vintners Momtazi Pinot Noir 2015, McMinnville, Willamette Valley. 14.1% alc. 288 cases. Intense medium ruby fading to transparent magenta at the rim; mulberries, plums and currants, infused with sandalwood and sassafras, hints of cranberry and rhubarb, undertones of flint and graphite; lissome and muscular, supple and satiny; a savory pinot noir, pulling up siftings of lavender, lilac and bittersweet chocolate; loam and forest floor. Wonderful detail and dimension. Through 2022 to ’24. Excellent. About $40.


Cristom Vineyards Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley. 13.5% alc. My first note on this wine is “God, how beautiful!” Entrancing transparent ruby-garnet color; luscious notes of red cherries and currants, backdrop of sandalwood, lilac, smoke and oolong tea; lithe, silky texture drapes the palate, animated by bright acidity that cuts a swath; loam and meadow flowers, woodsy spice; brilliant but spare red berry flavors with a touch of raspberry leaf and sage; a finish chiseled from flint and chalk. Radiates varietal purity and intensity. Through 2022 to ’25. Exceptional. About $80.


Argyle Winery Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley. 14.1% alc. Pale, transparent ruby-mulberry hue; meaty and fleshy red cherries and currants, deeply spiced and macerated; a lovely spare, lithe texture, alluring in its satiny drape on the palate; dry, quite savory and a bit autumnal in its smoky, herbal presence; bright acidity courses through, leading to a finish defined by red berry flavors and a touch of graphite minerality. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $40.


Penner Ash Wine Cellar Estate Pinot Noir 2015, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley. 14.3% alc. Dark ruby hue shading to a transparent rim; smoke and loam, penetrating minerality, deep, rooty, luscious; tobacco and cigarette paper; slightly roasted black currants and cherries, with a touch of rhubarb and cranberry; vibrant acidity cuts a swath; a fathomless strain of dust and graphite, bolstered by an intense core of lavender, licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Quite a performance. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $72.


Penner Ash Pas de Nom Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley. 14.3% alc. Limpid medium ruby hue; black and red cherries and currants, notes of cranberry and cloves, sandalwood and sassafras; expressive and eloquent, generous, even dignified; large-framed, succulent and satiny; layers of forest and meadow elements, briers and brambles, wild flowers, hints of wild raspberry and blueberry; a vibrant and resonant pinot noir, both ethereal and consequential. Through 2024 to ’27. Excellent. About $125.


Patricia Green Cellars Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley. 14.5% alc. 898 cases. Dark ruby shading to transparent magenta; an expansive and expressive pinot noir, robust yet frictionless on the palate; ripe and spicy, pure Bing cherry and black raspberry; sassafras and sandalwood, touches of rhubarb, lavender and crushed violets; fleshy and flinty, brings up some loam and dusty, rooty austerity through the finish; amazing presence and personality. Now through 2025 to ’28. Excellent. About $37, representing Great Value.