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By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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(In the order of their
publication dates)

Red Rhone Varietals
& Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published May & Jun 2016

Versatile Chardonnays
for Spring

A 4-Part Series
Published Mar & Apr 2016

Italian Varietals for 2016
A 4-Part Series
Published Jan & Feb 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon
and Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published Nov & Dec 2015

 Thanksgiving Wines
Published Nov 16, 2015

Meat My Merlot
A 4-Part Series
Published Oct & Nov 2015

Bordeaux Buddies
The Blending Grapes

on their own
A 4-Part Series
Published Aug & Sep 2015

Wines for Oysters
and Mussels

A 4-Part Series
Published July & Aug 2015


Wines of the Week
...Earlier Columns


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal



















Wines of the Week

Published June 28, 2016

Pinot Noir with Copper River Salmon
Part 2 of a 4-Part Series  (Part 1)
By Chuck Hill

The much-heralded Copper River salmon are caught most by gillnet in Prince William Sound at the mouth of Alaska’s Copper River.  This spring fishery is tightly controlled to preserve the species and is subject to the vagaries of weather and the run of the fish.  The flesh of the fish is rich in oil and Omega 3 fatty acids – a healthy choice and delicious from the grill! 

This rich and flavorful salmon pairs best with Pinot Noir when grilled.  The smoky nuances from grilling add complexity and bridge the fish flavor to the toasty and fruity Pinot Noir. 

Duck Pond Cellars
2012 Pinot Noir, St. Jory Vineyard
Willamette Valley AVA

This delicious wine points out the quality of the 2012 vintage in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  The wine offers great complexity and depth of flavor, pairing perfectly with grilled Copper River salmon.  Aromas of ripe cherry, spice and cedar lead to a juicy palate with flavors of cherry and berry, finishing with toasty caramel and hints of marshmallow and citrus. 

A to Z Wineworks
2014 Pinot Noir

For the most Pinot Noir bang-for-your-buck it is hard to beat A to Z Wineworks selection from the 2014 vintage.  This wine is crafted from grapes grown throughout the state and is blended to offer pure Pinot flavors in a medium to light style.  With the varied sources comes complex aromas and flavors of cherries and raspberries, earthy mineral and hints of blood orange, floral notes and tobacco – fantastic with salmon! 

Montinore Estate
2014 Pinot Noir, Reserve
Willamette Valley AVA

Montinore’s reserve Pinot Noir was one of our top wines in last year’s Copper River salmon tastings, and the 2014 vintage has once again gained a top spot.  Winemaker Stephen Webber was promoted to head of winemaking this year, and he utilizes his years of international experience crafting both red and white wines.  Pair your salmon with this wine, offering dark cherry, cherry candy and complex nuances of toasty vanilla, citrus and velvety tannins. 

J. Christopher
2013 Pinot Noir, Unfiltered
Willamette Valley AVA

Jay Somers winemaking career evolved from his passion for rock guitar to beer making and finally to Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley.  Another milestone is his recent partnership with Ernst Loosen of the famous German winery Dr. Loosen, building a new J. Christopher winery in the Chehalem Mountains.  Enjoy Jay’s rich and complex flagship Pinot Noir, featuring red fruits, earthy mineral and food-friendly acidity for your salmon. 

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards
2013 Pinot Noir, Pishon Bloc
Umpqua Valley AVA

Reustle Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir was my favorite wine last week, and this vineyard-designated bottling was another hit with my tasters.  Look for elegant aromas of red berries, toast and violets, and on the palate, red currant, spice and earthy mineral finish with silky tannins. 

Anam Cara
2012 Pinot Noir, Nicholas Estate
Chehalem Mountains AVA

Sheila and Nick Nicholas produce Anam Cara wines at their estate on a southeast-facing slope in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains.  The original vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir – Pommard and Dijon clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 – each of which is represented in this wine.  Look for the whole seductive panoply of Pinot Noir features: red cherry, rose petal, pepper, cocoa and smoky cedar – combining in a great match for salmon. 

Adelsheim Vineyard
2013 Pinot Noir, Elizabeth’s Reserve
Willamette Valley AVA

The name “Elizabeth’s Reserve” was first used at Adelsheim in 1986 to designate the blend of their best barrels of Pinot Noir.  Many lots represent different soil types, clones, site climates, barrel types and fermenter sizes.  Aromas and flavors of raspberry and Bing cherry mingle with smoky cedar, vanilla, mineral and spice.  Soft on the palate and on the finish. 

Gran Moraine
2013 Pinot Noir
Yamhill-Carlton AVA

The Gran Moraine Vineyard is located 5 miles west of Carlton, Oregon in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range Mountains.  The site was planted in 2005 to several Dijon clones of Pinot Noir.  The warm 2013 vintage produced this exceptional wine, offering aromas and flavors of huckleberry and blackberry with notes of tobacco, roasted meat, dried herbs and balanced tannins on the finish.  

Elk Cove Vineyards
2014 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley AVA

Elk Cove Vineyards’ Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is crafted by Adam Campbell from grapes grown in all five winery vineyard sites: Estate, Mount Richmond, Five Mountain, Clay Court and Windhill.  This balanced and approachable wine offers ripe berry and cherry with complex spice, mineral and hints of toasty oak.  Nice acidity for pairing with your favorite salmon or other savory entrees. 

La Crema
2014 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley AVA

This family-owned and operated winery from Windsor, California specializes in crafting wines from cool-climate growing areas.  The 2014 vintage was the third utilizing Willamette Valley fruit from Oregon.  This Pinot Noir is elegant and balanced with rich blackberry and plum fruit mingling with notes of cocoa, earth and baking spices, and finishing with velvety tannins and ample acidity for food pairing. 

Wines from other areas:

Sea Pearl
2014 Pinot Noir
Marlborough, NZ

Many of my tasters are excited to discover the wonderful Pinot Noirs from New Zealand.  Sea Pearl is named for the local species of abalone (Paua), which are revered for their beautiful iridescent shells.  Sea Pearl Pinot Noir comes from select vineyards in Marlborough, yielding a wine of ripe red cherries, plum and nuances of toasty oak and vanilla.  Cheers! 

Sartori di Verona
2011 Pinot Noir
Venezie IGT

Pietro Sartori bought a small vineyard with a cellar in 1898 in the heart of Italy’s Veneto region.  Today, his great-grandson Andrea Sartori is at the helm taking steps to broaden the reputation of Sartori di Verona!  Look for aromas and flavors of blackberry jam, baking spice and vanilla with hints of dark chocolate and toasted almonds. 

2012 Pinot Noir
Mendocino County

Moniker Pinot Noir is sourced from three cool-climate vineyards in Mendocino County; locations include Anderson Valley, Redwood Valley and Potter Valley.  A portion of the grapes were hand-punched down in small bins, ensuring a rich and deeply fruity wine.  Aging in bold American oak added a firm backbone to enhance the dark plum, cherry and earthy forest aromas and flavors – spice and toasty oak follow on the finish.

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©  June, 2016  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 06/29/2016