Tasting Pour is convinced Oregon Pinot noir is the perfect pairing for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We have experimented with everything from Zinfandel to Sauvignon Blanc. If you like this lighter, elegant yet still fruity style of wine, it is the way to go. If you don’t like Pinot noir here are some other suggestions.
Join us as we explore our cellar and determine the perfect wine for our table. In the process you may determine the perfect wine to make you truly thankful.
There are many 2011 Oregon Pinot noirs in our cellar. This vintage is known as the “miracle” vintage in Oregon. The spring was perfect weather so there were lots of flowers on the vines setting the vineyards up to produce a large crop. A cool, cloudy summer followed. It was not warm enough for even a normal sized crop to ripen, let alone this bumper crop of grapes. At one point the grapes were an entire month behind their usual ripening schedule. Vineyard managers and winemakers were biting their nails while the wine world looked on.
An Indian Summer in August and September aided ripening but by October 3rd, Oregon had the lowest heat accumulation in decades. It was the latest harvest on record with most picking beginning after October 15th (two weeks later than usual) and still picking into early November. If the expected autumn rains had come it could have spelled disaster. Choices would have been to pick the grapes underripe or risk the mildew and disease brought by wetter weather. The “miracle” part of the story is the LACK of rain. The weather stayed dry and the grapes were awarded a long hang time – over 100 days – to finish ripening. The result were wines of lower alcohol but more elegance, surprising vivid color, and depth of flavor. A little tight in their youth, the 2011 Pinot noir will continue to develop in the bottle and drink like a dream in a few years. Think of these wines as the teenager with braces who will wow everyone in a few years at her debutante ball.
2012 Oregon Pinot noirs are a completely different story – complete with a “storybook ending” for winemakers. The summer was dry and warm, but not too hot. Grapes reached full ripening with balanced acidity from cool nights. The harvest was early and rains held off until mid-October. The resulting Pinot noirs are bigger, fruitier and more lush upon release. These are not fruit bombs by any means – after all, this is Oregon. They are Pinot noirs with ability to age, but are so pleasantly approachable in their youth – why wait. Remember the kids in your class with great skin and a growth spurt that didn’t make them awkward? We are opting for the elegant yet rich Pinot noirs of 2012 for this Thanksgiving.
From our cellar: J Wrigley’s 2012 Proposal Block from McMinnville AVA, Stoller Family Estate 2012 from Dundee Hills AVA; Durant Vineyards 2012 Bishop and 2012 Olivia Grace from Dundee Hills AVA; and one 2010 Youngberg Hill Barrel Select from Willamette Valley. Disclaimer: some of these bottles were samples.
If ever there was a TastingPour “pro tip,” this is it: When we visit a tasting room and try a wine, we start to think about potential food pairings. We have been known to plan a full meal while just pondering a 1 ounce pouring of a wine. This makes meal planning a breeze.
J Wrigley’s Proposal Block, named from a site in their vineyard where John proposed to Jody, is lush and full of very ripe red and dark fruits. It is a dream in the glass or with a meal. A little bit bigger than what we want with turkey, this one is earmarked for a pork dish with dried fruit compote. You may, however, prefer this style with turkey
Youngberg Hill’s Barrel Select is made from Wayne Bailey’s best barrels from his best sites in 2010. It is fully integrated and ready to drink. Complex layers of fruit and spice have married over the last few years in bottle. A long finish, a hint of vanilla, and all of the mouthwatering delight that comes with a well made wine allowed to reach a bit of maturity await in this bottle. We have a lamb with a sweetened glaze in mind for this wine. Although this wine would not disappoint your Thanksgiving guests.
Stoller Family Estates2012, Durant Vineyards’ Olivia Grace, and Durant’s Bishop are all from Dundee Hills AVA. This area of Willamette Valley is known for elegant, delicate Pinot noirs with high notes of red cherry and pungent strains of white and black pepper. Even in warmer years, they reveal more restraint. For our palate, this is a wonderful compliment to the Thanksgiving meal.
We love a good story and especially one where the underdog comes out on top. Durant Vineyards’ Olivia Grace comes with a lovely tale. The wine is made from one vineyard block named for Paul Durant’s daughter. It is planted on their coolest site with the youngest Pommard. Terraced and facing true east, it receives less ripening sun.
Durant Vineyards matches winemakers with select vineyard blocks. No one was raising their hand to work with the Olivia Grace fruit and the Pinot noir was used for rose. That is until Chad Stock, Minimus Wines and Omero Cellars, accepted the challenge to coax an elegant Pinot noir from this site. Anyone who has ever tasted with me knows I am the last one standing because I am the last one still spitting. At a recent tasting dinner I not only drank the Olivia Grace at my seat but snuck the glass at the empty seat next to me.
We can only choose one wine for Thanksgiving Day, however, it is doubtful both the Durant Bishop and Stoller Family Estate will survive the weekend. If we get behind, there is always Christmas.