2007 Oregon Pinot: The Ugly Duckling?

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-26-2012

For just about 170 years, we have had Hans Christian Anderson’s Ugly Duckling. We’re all familiar with the tale: A tiny, unattractive duck is regularly mistreated by those around him — until he one day matures into a beautiful swan.

While the 2007 vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir isn’t quite a beautiful swan, it too suffered from ridicule in its youth — and was widely considered a disaster. When released, critics from almost every major publication panned the wines, as did many drinkers on message boards. Today, though, it’s obvious that the vintage has resulted in some exceptional wines, especially for those who prefer more feminine Pinots.

So in many ways, Oregon’s 2007 vintage parallels the story of the Ugly Duckling.

The vintage conditions were far from ideal. It started cool and dry. And while the weather never warmed, the rain came in buckets — ultimately, the vintage was affected by significant late-September and early-October rains. While rain in Oregon is a fact of life, especially later in the season, the rains made picking decisions especially challenging.

It also presented a quandary for many winemakers. Deciding whether to pick early — and risk green flavors — or wait out the rains and hope for ripeness was an impossible decision. Many producers who I’ve spoken with told me how difficult they found this decision. And from my tastings, I’ve concluded that the producers who have been around the longest performed the best.

The overall quality of the vintage has been discussed for quite some time. (This long-running, tongue-in-cheek thread on WineBerserkers is worth checking out.)

In tasting nearly 100 Oregon Pinots from the 2007 vintage (from about 60 producers), I have found that the wines are in a great spot. They certainly provide a different experience than most domestic Pinots, but if your palate favors more elegant, lighter wines, then it’s hard to go wrong.

Many offer tremendous values, as many retailers who still have 2007 Oregon Pinots on their shelves are dropping prices dramatically.

As for whether the wines will age, it’s impossible to say. In recent months, I’ve found that the wines continue to improve — but they’re certainly drinking well right now. History does suggest that these wines could surprise people with their aging — as they’re certainly surprising people now.

Below are tasting notes from 10 of my top rated 2007 Oregon Pinot Noirs. All my 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir tasting notes can be read here. Please note that my tasting opportunities have come through my own dollar, trade tastings, and one giant tasting at Patricia Green Cellars in early August of 2011 that included several Wine Berserkers.

Review: 2007 J. Christopher Pinot Noir Appassionata
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Nose: gorgeously aromatic nose filled with all sorts of spice and herb tones along with elegant tones of red fruits, red cherries, and a good amount of strawberries.

Taste: beautiful and sublime medium feel along with medium/high acidity and a real silky quality to the tones of herbs, spice, red fruits and a lot of strawberries. Still seems very young on the palate.

Overall: this is a stunner in the making. This relies on more of a deft touch than brute force to draw you in. A real wonderful pinot that still needs some time to really show itself. (93 pts.)

Review: 2007 White Rose Wines Pinot Noir Quiotee’s Lair
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Nose: now we’re talking, absolutely gorgeous and perfumed nose of red fruits, floral tones, herbs, spice tones and all sorts of wild berries.

Taste: silky and refined medium feel with medium acidity with lovely tones of perfumes, red fruits, floral tones, herbs and a whole lot of wild berries.

Overall: this was just picture perfect for me. It had an understated quality to it, and I was doing my best to savor this as long as possible in the format we had. I really needed a bottle of this in front of me. (93 pts.)

Review: 2007 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
Nose: very pretty and elegant nose filled with red fruits, berries, various floral tones and higher tones of spices as well.

Taste: pretty medium feel that is feminine without being overly delicate with medium+ acidity and polished tones of red fruits, spice tones, florals, and bits of strawberries.

Overall: Well balanced and very elegant, this feels like it needs some time to fully come together, but is a wonderful young pinot right now. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Murto
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Nose: very demure and sexy nose of wild herbs, berries, spice tones and a nice dose of red fruits. There was very good depth too as well.

Taste: showing off rather young on the palate with medium+ acidity that is seeming like it needs to calm a bit backed up by a beautiful medium feel with polished tones of fresh picked berries, wild herbs, plums and a good bit of red fruits.

Overall: this had a very vosne quality to me. Demure and lovely, this was very fragrant and expressive on both the Nose and palate. It could use another couple of years, but is a real lovely wine on the whole. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 Brick House Pinot Noir Cuvée du Tonnelier
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge
Nose: elegant and filling nose of red fruits, berries, red florals, bits of herbs and plum tones. Very nice depth and very much on the expressive side.

Taste: lovely medium body with medium+ acidity with balanced tones of red fruits, berries, red florals and herb tones. Nice and silky on the palate as well.

Overall: a gorgeous wine that still needs a slight bit of time to fully come together. This had a nice light salmon color to it but wasn’t light at all on the Nose or palate. It had been noted that this was picked after the rains. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 Cameron Pinot Noir Abbey Ridge
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Nose: absolutely lovely Nose that harkens burgundy for me along with perfumed tones of earthen tones, brown spices, dark red cherries and a lot of dark red fruits.

Taste: supremely balanced with a very pretty medium body feel and medium+ acidity along with silken tones of earth, brown spices, dark red cherries and some darker floral tones as well.

Overall: I really wanted more than just the pour of this. This was a wine that I just would’ve loved to have spent an evening with. It can certainly get better and probably could use another couple of years. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Original Vines Reserve
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills

Nose: perfumed and enveloping Nose of violets and wild flowers for days along with red fruits and a good amount of fresh picked berries.

Taste: very pretty medium feel with medium/high acidity and lovely tones of violets, all sorts of wild flowers, lots of red cherries, spice tones, red fruits and fresh picked berries

Overall: it was a real lovely wine. Perfectly balanced and just showing itself to be a wine of class and poise. Certainly in need of some more time to let the nuances fully come through, but this is gorgeous now. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 Matello Pinot Noir Souris
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Nose: gorgeous and flowing nose of red cherries, dark red fruits, lots of floral tones and some bits of candy as well.

Taste: pretty and elegant medium feel with medium+ acidity and silky tones of wild berries, dark red fruits, red cherries and a lot of floral tones on the back end

Overall: this was a lovely wine. Very elegant and refined, this seemed a bit young but not too far away from being where it needs to be. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 Scott Paul Cellars Pinot Noir La Paulee
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Nose: very pretty and effusive nose filled with dark red cherries, dark red fruits, plum tones and a good amount of spice tones as well.

Taste: silky medium body with medium acidity and round tones of spices, dark red cherries and a good amount of dark red fruits. The acidity is well in check and the palate is very balanced.

Overall: this wine was very pretty. Elegant and balanced, it had a refined sense to it along with great balance on both the Nose and palate. This does seem like it’s ready to drink and is well worth drinking right now. (92 pts.)

Review: 2007 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir Aliette
USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Nose: very perfumed and complex nose that has a nebbiolo-esque quality to it filled with tones of red fruits, roasted herbs, red cherries, wild flowers and loads of spice tones.

Taste: silken medium body with medium/high acidity and lovely tones of red fruits, roasted herbs, fields of wildflowers, red cherries, spices and lots of fresh picked strawberries. Very complex, and though on the lighter side, still bringing good depth.

Overall: This was a gorgeous wine. Silky and very aromatic, this grabbed my attention right away with its beauty. This could definitely use another couple of years to sand down the edges, but lovely she is. (92 pts.)

Comments (3)

  1. Great post. I’ve only had a few 2007s, but I’ve rather liked them. I’m jealous of your tasting experience with this vintage!

  2. Thanks for the shout out for my (now) famous thread on WB.

  3. nice post. the 2007 pinots are tasting fantastic all over the vallley right now. by contrast, the 2008 “vintage of the century” pinots are all tasting awkward and tannic right now. i really hope 2007 has taught people in Oregon about the complex intricacies of a vintage, and the dangers in proclaming a vintage to be “good” or “bad”.