Category Archives: Pinot Noir

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

A Wine to Define Your Emotions

Stoller Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills

Stoller Pinot Noir 2011, Dundee Hills

Stoller Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, 2011

Here is a good example of a wine that will help you define your emotions when you taste.  Remember, wine is emotion in a glass.  We identify our emotions quickly when we taste a wine (or anything, for that matter) with the shallow evaluation of, “Oh I like this one,” or “I’m not impressed,” or at the negative extreme we blurt out, “I hate this!” as we ingloriously spit it out.

Do we often enjoy the experiences of wine that lay in-between these polarized reactions?  All our experiences are emotions and we need to get in touch with our emotions better in order to enjoy food and wine more.  We taste with our emotions, in the final analysis, and they are where we make our judgments of the wine or pause to dig a little deeper into their vast repertoire of experiences to find what it is we are enjoying or detesting.  To quickly enjoy or detest is to simply scratch the surface of our emotional reactions and leave out of the moment the many other reactions that our emotions want to give us.

So, here is how we do it most of the time.  First, we pour a glass, sniff, and say it seems to be good.  Then we taste and confirm: yes, it is pleasant.  And then we swallow and forget it.  Let’s do more.  As I said, this is a good wine to help you take a deeper journey into wine appreciation — your appreciation and enjoyment.

It is a red wine that you might agree is light and bright with no offsetting flavors or faults.  Start with a simple judgment.  In your opinion, is it red fruit that you are reminded of, like strawberry, raspberry or red cherries?  Or is it dark fruit, like blackberry, blueberry, black currant, or boysenberry?  I think it is red fruit.  Red, not black, and they are bright red berries.  Now, you  are on a journey with your emotions.  What are your experiences of red berries and wine that reminds you of red berries?  There’s more here as you think about it.  Doesn’t this light, bright wine remind you of sunshine, dancing in the fields and creating moments of pleasure and light heartedness you have enjoyed?  The flavors of this wine are assembling experiences in your mind, aren’t they?  They may make you feel light-hearted, making your thoughts more dance-like and receptive.   Wine begins an emotional journey that we should not miss, just like a steak can change the landscape of your mind if you will let it.

What of this wine?  It is Pinot Noir alright, light and bright with red berry flavors a plenty, a little spice, and reminders of cedar and vanilla.  Each facet can take you on another journey.  You may find more and that’s the wonder of wine-tasting: we all taste differently.  Taste again and let your mind wander among its many reminders of flavors and impressions and you will enjoy the wine all the more.

Rating:  89+

Emotional rating?  Well, you can describe your journey.

Available widely.

A Pinot Noir for Special Moments

Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012, Arcus Estate

Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012, Arcus Estate

Archery Summit — Arcus Estate 2012 Pinot Noir

This is a winery to watch and a wine to savor in those very special moments.  The vines are planted closer together than is the usual practice in the Willamette Valley of Oregon — more like the Burgundy vineyards.  Having to fight for nutrients with the other vines in close proximity, the struggle ends, as in much of nature, with a greater strength.  This vintage ripened well, as is seen first in the unusual depth of color.  The alcohol reached 14.5% in this wine of excellent balance!  Acids, tannins, alcohol, and flavors form a homogenous unit of tasteful pleasure.

The oak treatment is also held in balance and plays a support role to the flavors of the fruit.  Blackberry and dark cherry with accompanying hints of leather and coffee underlined with a rich dark chocolate base adorn a wine that keeps its intensity long after it is opened and finishes with a long rich finish.  No edges destroy its soft and full feel and it coats the palate, adding to its fullness.

The flavors are well married and play together in satisfying harmony.  This is, in my judgment, their best vineyard.

Rating 92

Emotional rating:  A conjunctive wine that pleases all the way from sight to sip to final bow.

Available:  Try and the winery itself, as it ships to a number of states.