Wine Reviews: Willamette Valley Pinot

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-26-2015

For this report, we’re focusing on two producers, Ransom and Willamette Valley Vineyards.

Ransom is the project of Tad Seestedt, which started off as a distillery in 1997. Tad now makes a few craft spirits and small batch wines. While this was my first time tasting Ransom’s wines, I’m already a fan of the fresh, vibrant, lip-smacking approach of Tad’s Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Willamette Valley Vineyards is the child of Jim Bernau. A Willamette Valley staple, the winery dates back to 1989, and they still put out a variety of wines all over the price point spectrum.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Review: 2014 Ransom Pinot Gris Selection - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
SRP: $16
Bright but complex nose of lychee, kiwi and lemon zest, a deep sense of seashell, sea salt and honeysuckle as well. Bright, crisp, clean, refreshing, this wine is packed with lime and orange peel along with richer elements of papaya and pineapple, woven in with chalky mineral notes. Zesty acid, moderate body, some waxiness to the mouthfeel. This is a bright and zesty wine but also maintains plenty of complexity and body. Impressive. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $16
A bit more honey and peaches on the nose, some lime and chalky notes as well. Juicy texture, medium-bodied, moderate acid. This wine displays papaya, yellow apple, pineapple and mango, but stays fresh and bright. I get honeysuckle, yellow apple, saline and chalk elements on the finish. Great food pairing versatility, but so refreshing on its own. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Ransom Pinot Noir Selection - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $27
Bright ruby color. Aromas of tart red berries, sour cherries, cranberry sauce, some tobacco, bay leaf, rose petals. On the palate, a tart, brisk presence of acid, with lightly dusty tannins, medium-light bodied at 12.6% alcohol. Crunchy red fruit (pomegranate, red cherries and sour cherries) shows freshness and liveliness. Notes of tobacco, clay, rose petals, some bay leaf and broth elements that add an earthy but pretty sense of complexity. Such a brisk and lively wine, but some notes of light roast coffee and campfire smoke, too. A beauty of a wine now but I’d be interested in seeing how it unwraps over the next two to four years. Aged 16 months in old French oak. (91 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $30
Juicy cherry colored. Airy, bright aromas, ripe yet tangy red cherries along with rose perfume and sweet cola notes. Medium bodied, medium acid, some slight grip to the tannins but a smooth, refreshing and vibrant approach on the palate. Notes of red currant and wild strawberries play off of richer summer plums, roasted nuts, cedar and rose petals. Nice now but some near-term aging wouldn’t hurt. (88 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Bernau Block - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $55
Darker ruby color. Black cherries and rich strawberries on the nose, also some deep loamy notes, coffee, anise  and violets. Medium-full bodied, velvety but full of dusty-firm tannic strength. Black cherries galore, along with a mix of rich yet tart black and red plums. I get some toasty and savory aspects on the finish. Stays bright and fresh despite the grip. Could use a few years to open up and get a bit more complex, but this is a very attractive young Pinot. (91 points IJB)

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