Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2014

90+ Pinot Noir – Wine Raters Disagreed

Archery Summit’s 2014 Arcus Estate, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 

It happens all the time:  Experts disagree on a wine’s rating.  Wine Spectator gave the Archery Summit Arcus Estate Pinot Noir 94 points; Wine Enthusiast, 92 points and Wine Advocate, 90 points.  Are we being fooled, and by whom, when a four-point spread in the hotly contested 90-94 range is claimed by tasters with reputations?

Archery Summit’s Evaluation:

“Lavish, dramatic, classic” is the winery’s claim for a wine from its famous vineyard.  The winery’s writeup features flavors of “…raspberry, wild strawberry and fresh red cherries supported by savory nori and cocoa powder.  The palate displays raspberry, blackberry and Oregon blackcap, spice box and lavender incense.”

My Evaluation of this Pinot Noir:

To me, raspberry, red cherry and blackberry feature on the nose with bright spice notes — very inviting and refreshing.  The depth of flavor, complexity and life in the wine gives it an immediate character.  Second thoughts emphasize the vibrant but balanced nose.  The acid and fruit mingle to provide a memorable finish that again stands out different from typical expectations, while being highly rewarding and cleansing.  It is long on fruit flavors.

Here’s another opinion: “Rich, fruity, plenty of acid, well balanced; some minerality, but it is not up front; red fruit, cherry, red plum; the finish is long and bright.  Taste this wine and think your way through its character and its components.  So, what about the rating?

Other Factors Affect Ratings

Ratings have a lot to do with companions as well as quality evaluations.  The quality of winemaking and the balance of its full flavors, acid and alcohol is excellent in this Pinot Noir.  In comparison to other great wines, it shines among them.

Rating:  Its character elevates it to 94.  90 seems, to me, not to recognize its uniqueness.

Emotional rating:  Absolutely great!

Availability: From the winery.

Ritual Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir – Great Flavor Variations

Ritual Pinot Noir 2014 

Pinot Noir clones actually offer distinct and different flavors.  It is not altogether the terroir that is the distinctive variable in the wine.  So, when you taste a Pinot Noir it would be handy to know the clones and their characteristics, but good luck.  It will be next to impossible to get the information on which clones ended up in the Pinot Noir you are drinking.  Therefore, we must  taste and evaluate the wine on its quality and judge personally on its style and flavor as it appeals to our preferences — not necessarily a chore when it comes to wine, in my opinion at least.

This wine is harvested in the early morning, cool temperatures and fog.  Natural fermentation and careful handling preserve, as best they possibly can, the expression of the vineyard.

Taste this Pinot Noir

We can’t wait.  Pour yourself a glass and sit back as we concentrate.  It starts with great promise, showing a wonderful aroma that offers a perfect blend of fruit and oak.  Cranberry, raspberry, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla are noticeable.  On the palate, the fruit hits first, followed by a dominant acid.  The flavors are not as weighty and full as expected and a little disappointing.  We have gone from a great beginning to a potential letdown.  Given that Pinot Noirs differ greatly in taste, style will determine the value of this wine for many.  The finish is thin but lasting.  Some prefer a fuller Pinot Noir, but this one is refreshing.

All in all, I was impressed to begin with and unimpressed with the wine’s final appeal.

Rating:  89.

Emotional rating:  90

Availability:  Widely available

Hillside Vineyards

A Great Archery Summit Wine!

Archery Summit Ribbon Ridge, Looney Vineyard, 2014

We know Archery Summit for richer flavors in their Pinot Noir due to their closely planted vines.


Deep ruby color with an attractive crimson edge shows off the very well extracted wine that is characteristic of their product.  The crimson edge fades to a clear ring of glycerol.


Aromas are very well married.   The combination of a deep red fruit and rich oak aroma gives this wine a its full character — far richer than most Pinot Noir.  It makes this a Pinot Noir that you certainly want to to examine.  Many lighter Pinots simply walk in a different neighborhood.  On examination, we note a perfect balance and hidden in the marriage, we find gun smoke, cocoa, vanilla, clove, with plum, raspberry and darker fruits deepening the nose.

On the Palate, Archery Summit scores highly, too:

On the palate, the experience is of a silky texture and tannins that are as fine as any.  Again, the flavors are married and form a pleasant experience.  It finishes with equal harmony to a long slowly fading experience of its many flavors.

This is simply a great wine.

Rating:  94+

Emotional rating:  Extremely satisfying and smoothly pleasant

Availability:  Try

White wine for a picnic

Wine Acid Levels – Personal Preference

A level of wine acid that the taster appreciates is perhaps one of the most personal factors in wine appreciation.  It has a lot to do with our memories of acidic tastes from other foods and how we reacted to them in the past.  We taste with our memories and the emotions embedded in them.  And wine acidity affectsWinemakers have their own individual standard for wine acid levels and that tells another story.

Wine acids too high or acids too low:

People often have a favorite winery and the typical acid level in the winery’s product is one of the definitive factors in winery loyalty.  Acid levels impact the freshness of the wine and the expression of the aromas.  Those who like high acid levels benefit from these results and those who love low levels benefit from softer wines.  Both extremes play with danger.  Wine acid levels that are too high may hold the threat of vinegar flavors for some.  An acid level that is too low produces a wine may be flabby.

Wine acid balance

Acids can make or destroy the wine.  The fine balance of acids in the making of the wine means the winemaker achieves freshness and vibrancy or a softer wine.  Many decisions must be made.   Picking at the right time and deciding whether to add acid or take it away are at the forefront of a winemaker’s decisions.

Two glasses of red wine with bottle

The Wine: Malbec – An Interesting Expression

Creekside Cellars’, Grand Valley AVA

Malbec has a distinct reputation. Based on consistently offered and often ‘popular’ wine expressions, specific grapes tend to take on ‘expected’ characteristics that can mislead us into expectations that will limit our experiences.  If your taste expectations are open to adventure, the Malbec we are about to discuss will take you to a beautiful and less common expression of this wine grape.

The Wine’s Nose:

The dark side of black currant and the depth of its blackberry form a firm base to this wine.  Floral tones of violet are a pleasant surprise.  Oak tones of vanilla and toast add a complexity that makes this wine fuller than the alcohol percentage of 13.8 would indicate.

The Wine’s Body:

As with many well-made, medium to full bodied red wines (not judged by the alcoholic content but by the fulness of flavor and the wine’s weight), the aromas transform themselves into a few more notable flavors on the palate.  Dark chocolate dominates in this luscious experience of chocolate and blackberry, deep fruit and rich oak.  A smooth creamy texture owes most of its creaminess to the blend of flavors and balance of the mouthfeel.

The Wine’s Finish:

The finish is long and the tannins can do with more time to fully integrate.  This fact indicates that the wine has some good days ahead.

Beautiful Wine Expression, But Not the Typical Malbec

But what is so notable in this wine is the expression of the Malbec grape.  Neither Cot (the name for the French Malbec) nor the Argentinian version of the grape are where this Grand Valley expression has gone.  Expressive, yet it displays a reserve, offering its flavors slowly from opening to a day later.  Malbec has a name for being a rough or earthy red, but this wine  dismisses that reputation and shows how delicate such a wine can be.

Rating:  89-90

Emotional rating:  better a day later than on the first day, but engaging.

Availability:  From the winery.