Culture / Foodie Events

A Softer Pinot

This Oregon Valley Wine Pioneer’s Bottle Is Made for Drinking Now

BY // 04.16.16

A few nights ago I was pondering dinner — I was at home, deciding between making a hamburger and cooking a duck breast. I opted for the latter, and knew exactly which bottle I was going to open: the 2014 Estate Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards. I had received it earlier in the month and was eager to have a taste.

The grapes were harvested from three locations — Tualatin, Elton, and the WVV vineyard, which was planted in 1983. (Tualatin was established in 1973 and planted by Oregon wine pioneer Bill Fuller). Alcohol is 13.5 percent; everything was harvested between September 17 and October 12, 2014, and spent nine months in barrel (22 percent new French oak).


I rubbed the duck breasts with a light mixture of star anise, clove, and nutmeg — the flavors evident, but not overly assertive — and let them sit for about an hour. With them I was making spring peas and roasted carrots. Simple, and a great match for the wine’s character and profile: light, bouncy tannins, marked balance, and decent acidity. You will taste, of course, the raspberries and cherries, but there is also something that goes beyond the normal Pinot spiciness. Softer, more complex. This I appreciated with the duck, as it enhanced the spice rub I put together.

This wine is drinking well now, and I agree with the winemaker: open it today, or before 2021. (You can order this for $30 from the winery.)

Here’s a look at WWV’s founder, Jim Bernau:


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