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60 Top Pinot Noirs
Tasted at the 2008 International Pinot Noir Celebration

One of the many highlight's of this year's IPNC were the two open tasting sessions, which featured Pinot Noirs from around the world. Each invited producer poured a single wine (with just a few exceptions), which made the tastings manageable - with a bit of application, you could reasonably hope to taste almost everything. 

This was an outdoor tasting, and while it wasn't crowded, there were quite a few people tasting, so the conditions, while good, weren't perfect for tasting. I enjoyed most of the wines: as you can see from my ratings, they're bunched together a bit. This is because the quality of the wines on tasting was consistently high.

I've grouped the wines into (1) Oregon and (2) the rest of the world, in my notes below. [As well as the wines in the tasting, I've included a few wines from lunch in my notes, as well as a couple from one of the seminars.]


Adelsheim Vineyard Elizabeth Reserve 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Fresh, quite vivid cherryish fruit is sappy and spicy with nice structure. Finishes bright. A satisfying savoury style. 90/100

Amalie Robert Pinot Noir ‘Dijon Clones’ 2005 Oregon
Sweet dark chocolate edge to the nicely aromatic dark cherry fruits. Sweet dark cherry fruit on the palate. Warm and rich with some spice on the finish. 90/100

Andrew Rich Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
A blend from six different vineyards and five different AVAs. Savoury spicy nose with nice definition. The palate shows pure but dense structured fruit. Quite serious with lovely definition, and could develop nicely. 92/100

Argyll Reserve Pinot Noir 2004 Oregon
Quite elegant with smooth red fruits and a bit of spice. An elegant, understated style. 92/100

Belle Vallée Grand Cuvée 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Sweet aromatic cherry berry fruit nose is well defined with sweet oak notes. The palate is fresh and bright with nice red fruit character. Currently oaky. 88/100

Bethel Heights Casteel Reserve 2006 Oregon
Sweet dark cherry fruit nose with lovely focused aromatic purity. Palate is vivid with nice structure and focused dark fruits. Some oak evident. Savoury and intense. 91/100

Bethel Heights Flat Block Reserve 2006 Oregon
Fresh aromatic sweet red cherry fruit nose. Very attractive: light and pure. The palate is fresh and elegant with lovely smooth focused red fruits. A really elegant expression of Pinot Noir. 93/100

Boedecker Cellars Stewart Pinot Noir 2005 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Fresh, chocolatey, spicy dark cherry nose. The palate is focused and elegant with a nice combination of ripe, smooth fruit and some oak. A stylish effort. 91/100

Brick House Pinot Noir 2003 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Really aromatic herbal spicy nose with sweet damson fruit. The palate is fresh and expressive with a nice herbal edge and some good tannins, as well as sweet red fruits. 92/100

Broadley Vineyards Marcile Lorraine Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Vibrant, forward aromatic nose of dark cherries and spice. Rich but still fresh. The palate is sweetly fruited with nice density and spicy oak supporting the fruit. Structured wine that needs time. 92/100

Brooks Janus Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Vivid and intense on the nose with sweet dark fruits. The palate is rich with quite a bit of oak and sweet, ripe dark fruit. A rich style, although it still has good focus and may age well. 89/100

Cardwell Hill Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Very attractive, pure elegant dark cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is smooth and rich with nicely focused sweet fruit. Good concentration. This is a rich wine that finishes spicy. 92/100

Chehalem Pinot Noir Reserve 2006 Oregon
Sweet, pure aromatics. The palate is super-elegant with sweet red berry and cherry fruit. Expressive and complex with some spicy structure. Lovely stuff with great purity. 94/100

Coehlo Winery of Amity Pinot Noir 2005 Oregon
Lighter coloured. The nose is sweet, open and elegant with red fruits to the fore. Supple palate has a nice sappy edge to the red berry and cherry fruit. An attractive lighter-styled Pinot. 90/100

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Stylish and elegant with red fruits supported by spicy structure. Quite dense with good length. 92/100

Elk Cove Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
Smooth, sweet lush and pure on the nose with rich dark fruits. The palate is focused and fresh with a hint of mint. Sweet and dark with lovely density. 91/100

Lemelson Vineyards Stermer Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
One of six vineyards that Lemelson farm organically. Deep coloured. Sweet, forward attractive dark fruits nose with spicy definition. The palate is sweet and dark with lovely forward fruit. Finishes nicely spicy and dense with good structure. 91/100

Maysara ‘Delara’ Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
Aromatic bright red fruits nose. Dense fruit-driven palate is quite pure with ripeness and elegance. Nice weight here. 90/100

Panther Creek Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Full, bright, aromatic and fresh with a nice spiciness on the nose. The palate is quite dense and spicy with a subtle tarry edge to the fruit. Finishes spicy. 90/100

Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Croft Vineyard 2006 Oregon
Dense red fruit nose is quite spicy and earthy. The palate is savoury but with nice elegance as well as a hint of earthiness. Finishes spicy. Distinctive but satisfying. 91/100

Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Ama Vineyard 2006 Oregon
Spicy roast coffee nose. The palate is supple and ripe with some elegance and sweet but nicely defined fruit. Delicious. 90/100

Patton Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Sweet, aromatic cherry and berry fruit nose. The palate is supple and elegant with some subtle green freshness to the ripe pure fruit. Stylish. 92/100

Ponzi Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Sweet, pure, perfumed nose. The palate is concentrated and pure with lovely presence. Intense, sweet and pure with nice subtly spicy structure. Real length and presence here. 93/100

Domaine Serene Two Barrels Pinot Noir 2005 Oregon
Smooth, lush and pure with lovely elegant sweet red fruits supported by oak. Lovely concentration and focus here: a really stylish wine. 93/100

Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée 2005 Dundee Hills, Orgeon
Elegant, pure aromatic dark fruits on the nose with hints of tobacco and earth. Alluring and elegant. The palate is pure with dark cherry fruits. Elegant and profound. 94/100

Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée 2005 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Smooth and quite elegant with focused cherry fruit nose and some oak. The palate is very expressive with good acid and lively red fruits. Very stylish. 92/100

Solena Cellars Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
Fresh, bright, focused berry fruit nose. The palate is sweet but focused with nice supple elegant fruit and finishes with nice spiciness. A lovely wine. 92/100

Stoller Pinot Noir 2005 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Aromatic, fresh, sappy dark cherry nose. Lovely sweet focused cherry fruit on the palate, with a bright, fresh quality and a bit of spicy structure. Elegant. 91/100

Westrey Pinot Noir Oracle Valley 2006 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Really fresh, focused nose with red fruits and some herbiness. The palate is fresh, bright and pure with lovely spicy focus. Good structure here. Nicely savoury but still quite elegant. 92/100

Willamatte Valley Vineyards Tualatin Estate Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
Slightly candied, confected sweet red fruits nose. Quite pure. The palate is supple, pure and quite elegant with sweet fruit and some structure. Nice purity. 91/100

Witness Tree Vintage Select Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Beautiful aromatics here: sweet, slightly green, pure fruit. The palate has lovely purity of fruit and some elegance. Lighter and more expressive, but still ripe and sweet. 93/100

Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Open, slightly oxidative nose. Sweet, open palate. 85/100

Yamhill Valley Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
Sweet pure nose of red berry fruits. The palate is quite dense with a savoury edge and nice tannic structure. Finishes a little earthy. Nice savoury style. 90/100

The rest of the world 

Addamo Estate Pinot Noir Reserve 2006 Santa Maria Valley, California
Vibrant, bright cherry fruit with a herby edge. Fresh, sappy palate with sweet fruit and a subtle greenness. 89/100

Domaine Ardhury Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2006 Burgundy
Focused, bright red berry fruit on the nose, with gentle spiciness. The palate is slightly earthy and dusty with bright, structured red fruits and lovely tannins. Great focus. 92/100

Au Bon Climat 30th Vintage Selection Pinot Noir 2005 Santa Maria Valley, California
Three barrels made from a north-facing vineyard at 1000 ft elevation, with 777 clone. Lovely fresh, vivid aromatic nose with beautifully expressive red berry fruit and a bit of spice. The palate is vivid and expressive with nice cherry freshness and good acidity. 92/100

Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2006 Tasmania, Australia
Ripe, aromatic nose with spicy woody notes and fresh berry fruit. The palate is dense and spicy with lovely presence and freshness. Ripe but balanced. 91/100

Bindi Wines Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 Australia
Quite rich with a bright, almost gingery edge as well as bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Good acidity and nice spiciness. A rich style, but by Aussie standards this is quite delicate. 90/100

Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2005 Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
Temperatures here can hit 40 C in summer and -20 C in winter. It’s more-or-less a desert with just 300 mm rain annually, so irrigation is necessary. This comes from a 31 ha vineyard. Fresh, focused dark cherry nose with some wood. The palate is quite dense and savoury with good acidity and a hint of earthiness. A fruit-driven style with real promise. 90/100

Maison Champy Beaune 1er Cru Champs Pimont 2005 Burgundy, France
Spicy dark nose with a hint of greenness. The palate is vivid and dense with good structure. An earthy, spicy edge here. Youthful, with potential. 88/100

Domaine Chevalier Ladoix 1er Cru Les Corvées 2005 Burgundy, France
Focused, spicy, red fruits nose with quite a bit of toasty oak. The palate is fresh with earthy, spicy density. 88/100

Château de Chorey Beaune Les Teurons 1er Cru 2005 Burgundy, France
Sweet, sappy, spicy nose is quite unusual. The palate is a little earthy with nice spicy focus. Finishes spicy and earthy. Brettanomyces here? Not easy to rate this.

Cobb Pinot Noir 2006 Sonoma County, California
Sweet, open elegant nose with some herby notes under the sweet red fruits. The palate is fresh and light with a bit of sappiness and a nice spicy finish. 87/100

Etude Temblor Pinot Noir 2005 Carneros, Napa
Fresh bright focused red berry fruits. Quite sweet with some oak and good structure, as well as nice acidity. A stylish, rather structured Pinot Noir that may age nicely. 92/100

Felton Road Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago, New Zealand
Sweet, forward dark cherry fruit nose. The palate has lovely vibrant fresh dark fruit and good acidity and focus. Lovely fruit quality here: bold and vibrant. 93/100

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2006 Central Otago
Elegant, pure cherry fruit nose. Nice concentration on the palate, which is savoury with spicy structure and nice length (30% whole cluster used here). Stylish with potential for further development. 92/100

Littorai Mays Canyon Pinot Noir 2006 Russian River Valley, Sonoma
Sweet aromatic nose. The palate is focused and fresh with nice definition to the expressive cherryish fruit. There is lovely structure and good acidity too – a well balanced, complex Pinot Noir. 93/100

Littorai Haven Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 Sonoma Coast
Very fresh cherry and herb nose with some attractive green notes plus hints of tar. The palate is warm with rounded, spicy character and a lovely expressive personality. Needs some time to integrate properly. 92/100

Fred Loimer Pinot Noir Dechant 2006 Austria
Very fresh and bright with supple, bright cherry fruit. A lighter style that’s quite fresh and attractive. 89/100

Jean Marc Millot Côtes de Nuits Aux Falques 2006 Burgundy
Sweet, slightly caramelly red fruits nose. The palate is fruity and bright with nice concentration. 87/100

Domaine Albert Morot Beaune Bressaudes 1er Cru 2006 Burgundy
Bright, fresh, focused red fruits nose. The palate is fresh with defined bright fruit, good acid and a bit of structure. A savoury style. 91/100

Philippe Pacalet

Philippe Pacalet Pommard 1er Cru 2006 Burgundy
Beautifully aromatic and fresh with open cherry fruit nose. Great aromatic purity. The palate is pure and bright with lovely elegance and a hint of earthy complexity on the finish. Lovely wine. It’s made without any sulfur dioxide, except for a bit before bottling, and is 100% whole cluster. 93/100

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2006 Waipara, New Zealand
Dense, fresh and spicy with nice expressive cherry fruit. Savoury and focused with a bit of earthiness and good acidity. Delicious. 92/100

Siduri Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 Santa Lucia Highlands, California
Nicely focused sweet cherryish fruit with lovely complexity. Delicious and forward. The palats is expressive with some earthy structure under the sweet complex fruit. 93/100

Siduri Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 Sonoma Coast, California
Aromatic sweet pure nose. The palate is dense with sweet fruit but lovely balance and elegance. There’s subtle sappiness and a spicy finish. Lovelt. 93/100

Siduri Clos Pepe Vinyard Pinot Noir 2006 Santa Rita Hills, California
Focused aromatics of sweet pure red fruits. The palate is supple and pure with nice focus and some spicy structure. Lovely focus to this wine. 92/100

Robert Sinskey Vineyards Pinot Noir 2005 Carneros, Napa
Quite rich and dense. Focused and rich with bold fruit and a spicy finish. A dense, full style of Pinot Noir that’s intense and spicy. 91/100

Robert Sinskey Vineyards Three Amigos Pinot Noir 2005 Carneros, Napa
Aromatic and quite rich with spiciness on the nose. The palate is expressive with a herby edge and lots of savoury spiciness. Slightly medicinal edge and some hints of mint – a distinctive wine. 91/100

Whetstone Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Bella Vigna Vineyard 2006 Sonoma County, California
Sweet, ripe, pure and aromatic. The palate has lovely purity with fresh, sweet fruit. Really delicious with sweet fruit and a plummy bite. 91/100  

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Wines tasted 07/08  
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