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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 July 18, 2016

Pinot Noir with Copper River Salmon
Part 4 of a 4-Part Series  (Part 1)  (Part 2)  (Part 3)
By Chuck Hill

My tasters this year were delighted with the high quality of all Pinot Noir submissions.  It is quite a difficult task assigning a ranking to each wine in a flight, and of course, wines can change dramatically as they breathe and open up.  Wines in my columns are generally presented in order of preference by a consensus of tasters, though in most tastings all wines are excellent or very good in overall quality.  Choose a wine for purchase based on descriptions of the wines’ aroma and flavor, intensity and, of course, price. 

Archery Summit
2014 Pinot Noir, Premier Cuvee
Willamette Valley AVA

Archery Summit Premier Cuvee is a blend of wines from six estate vineyards located in two sub appellations of the Willamette Valley - the Dundee Hills AVA and Ribbon Ridge AVA (Looney Vineyard only).  Native yeast fermentation was followed by eight months aging in French oak, 36% new.  I enjoyed this wine for its ripe cherry and blackberry fruit with aromatics of violet, cocoa and herbs.  Spicy oak and vanilla linger with supple tannins on the finish. 

Elk Cove Vineyards
2014 Pinot Noir, Goodrich
Yamhill-Carlton AVA

Elk Cove purchased the Goodrich Vineyard in 2014.  It is located just outside the town of Yamhill, just a few miles from the Elk Cove Estate in Gaston. Oregon.  The wine shows the classic Elk Cove earthy minerality underlying ripe cherry and raspberry.  The palate is well balanced, offering ample acidity to accompany rich Alaska salmon from the grill. 

Broadley Vineyards
2014 Pinot Noir, Estate
Willamette Valley AVA

Here is another winning wine from the Broadley family, crafted from a blend of their estate vineyards in the southern Willamette Valley.  Broadley wines are impeccably balanced on the palate, and the aroma is often an intriguing moving target of fruit and spice.  This vintage is somewhat feminine, offering pretty cherry candy, plum and floral notes throughout. 


King Estate
2014 Pinot Noir, Signature

I’ll say now that any of these 2014 Oregon Pinot Noirs benefit from extended aeration.  Decanting with splashing immediately prior to consuming is a good idea, or you can gently decant and leave the wine overnight.  This classic bottling from King Estate offers the dark spectrum of Pinot fruits: blackberry, cherry, cranberry, as well as chewy earthy mineral and notes of barrel spice. 

Benton Lane
2012 Pinot Noir, Reserve
Willamette Valley AVA

Benton Lane carries a postage stamp theme on its wine labels, and the Reserve is marked “First Class” in recognition of its status.  Since this wine is from the 2012 vintage, it offers more complex and mature aromas and flavors for the taster to enjoy.  Currants, plums and other dark fruits open the bidding, with a meld of oak influences – caramel, toast, spice – seeking to trump the hand.  It is a lovely bridge hand that wins a grand slam when paired with wild salmon from the grill. 

Brandborg Wines
2012 Bench Lands Pinot Noir
Umpqua Valley AVA

Terry and Sue Brandborg farm Pinot Noir and other varieties in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley and invite you to visit their tasting room in Elkton, Oregon.  The 2012 Bench Lands Pinot Noir offers ripe cherry and plum mingling with spicy licorice, cherry candy and hints of vanilla and toasty oak. 

Battle Creek Cellars
2014 Pinot Noir, The Unconditional

This value-priced Pinot Noir from Battle Creek Cellars earns its stripes from a fruit-forward aroma of cherry, pomegranate and spice leading to a fresh palate with flavors of raspberry and cranberry and just a hint of oak on the finish. 

Girardet Wine Cellars
2011 Pinot Noir, Barrel Select
Umpqua Valley AVA

This slightly older wine from Marc Girardet is a treat for those who are seeking complexity and food friendliness in their Pinot Noir.  Cherry candy and cocoa mingle with spicy herbs on the nose, leading to bright red fruits and earthy mineral on the palate.  The wine has excellent balance with ample acidity to pair with your chosen entrée. 

Willamette Valley Vineyards
2014 Pinot Noir, Estate
Willamette Valley AVA

This wine improves greatly with some aeration (see note above), so don’t be afraid to decant before serving.  The winery suggests that “this wine exemplifies the ‘Oregon style.’”  Once aerated, we concur, and celebrate the bright cherry and raspberry with hints of citrus zest, walnut and earthy mineral. 

2014 Pinot Noir

This tasty wine from Precept Brands is a blend of several Oregon vineyards, giving the wine complexity and style.  Cherry and raspberry are coaxed out of the glass with a swirl and a sniff, and mingle with herbs, vanilla and plum to accompany salmon from the grill – good value! 

Rosé of Pinot Noir

Ponzi Vineyards
2015 Pinot Noir Rosé
Willamette Valley AVA

This racy and delicate rosé was the favorite with our tasters and offers a nuanced complexity from a dedicated cuvee.  Flavors of cherry, apricot, citrus, and mineral, with a bit of astringency on finish - savory with good acidity, and an excellent food wine. 

Archery Summit
2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir “Vireton”
Willamette Valley AVA

This wine comes from a saignée of Pinot Noir cuvees.  Juice for the rosé is bled off shortly after pressing to concentrate the remaining red wine fermentation.  This deep-hued rosé offers black cherry, baking spice and plum with a rich palate balanced by crisp acidity - another great food wine. 

Sokol Blosser
2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir
Dundee Hills AVA

The delicate, pale salmon color of this wine foretells the light aromas and flavors including melon, mineral and grapefruit.   It is nicely balanced to accompany lighter summer cuisine -almost more like a white wine than a rosé. 

Firesteed Winery
2015 Pinot Noir Rosé
Willamette Valley AVA

To create the Firesteed Pinot Noir Rosé fruit from Firesteed’s Erratic Oaks Vineyard was hand-harvested and de-stemmed without crushing.  The grape skins were allowed to soak in the clear juice for up to 18 hours to infuse a beautiful pink hue.  Aromas and flavors of cherry and cream, strawberry and rose petal make this a versatile food wine for lighter fare. 

Acrobat by King Estate
2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir

Grapes for this wine were cold soaked for 72 hours before being saignéed to create the rosé cuvee.  Look for aromas of cherries and cream with melon accents.  The palate features good acidity with gentle sweetness provided by a hint of residual sugar. 

Brooks Winery
2015 Pinot Noir Rosé
Willamette Valley AVA

This bone-dry rosé comes from three vineyards at the Brooks Winery estate.  Cherry and berry aromas and flavors are complemented by an earthy minerality on the palate with a slight astringency.  Enjoy with fine cheeses or lighter savory fare.  

Wines from other areas: 

Gallo Signature Series
2014 Pinot Noir
Santa Lucia Highlands

This wine comes from the excellent cool-climate appellation of Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County.  Ripe aromas of pomegranate, cherry and Marion berry mingle with lavender and vanilla.  The palate is rich with deep fruit flavors and spicy oak from barrel aging in French cooperage. 

Paul Dolan Vineyards
2013 Pinot Noir
Mendocino County

Paul Dolan Vineyards is located in the heart of Mendocino County and sources grapes from meticulously tended vineyards in unique microclimates.  Look for aromas and flavors of strawberry and rhubarb with notes of spicy cherry and hints of cocoa and leather. 

Santa Barbara Winery
2014 Pinot Noir
Santa Barbara County

The majority of fruit for this bright and flavorful Pinot Noir comes from the winery’s Burning Creek Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills AVA.  This new vineyard is planted with eight clones of Pinot Noir and creates a complex wine that is forward and accessible.  Aromas and flavors of black cherry, strawberry, violets and earthy mineral pair well with salmon from the grill. 

Talbott Vineyards
2014 Pinot Noir, Kali Hart, Estate Grown
Monterey County AVA

This wine is named for owner Robb Talbott’s younger daughter and comes from the Monterey County AVA.  Aromas of red currant, plum and cranberry mingle with hints of vanilla and toasty oak, leading to a palate of bright red fruit flavors with excellent acidity for pairing with your favorite summer meats or salmon from the grill. 

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All rights reserved.  Last revised: 07/19/2016