Oregon’s doing something right with pinot noir, I don’t think anyone is really arguing otherwise at this point.
Sure, you can argue, as I have, that nothing happening over on this side of the world matches up to the best of Burgundy, but when the great pinot noir regions of the western hemisphere are named off, Oregon cannot be excluded.
And if you know your Oregon pinot, you know Willamette Valley. McMinnville is a sub-appellation of the WV that sits at the north end of the valley, south of Portland. An elevation-restricted AVA, qualifying vineyards need not only be within the geographic borders of the McMinnville AVA, but they must sit between 200 and 1000 feet above sea level.
These people are specific about their wine.
Not surprisingly, the AVA is dominated by vineyards of pinot noir, with a smaller amount of other Burgundian varieties like chardonnay, pinot gris, and pinot blanc. One of the most storied vineyards within the AVA is the Hyland Vineyard, a pinot noir-dominated vineyard that has produced award-winning pinots for decades.
This is Oregon. I wasn’t going to say “centuries.”
Anyway, this wine is Solena Estate’s Hyland Vineyard pinot noir, all pinot, all from the single vineyard. The wine is a dark, vibrant ruby red at its core, and lightens a bit to a dark pink at the edges.
The nose is a mixture of bright ripe strawberry, and darker, stewed fruit, mostly cherry and plum. The wine is medium-bodied, with a long, lustrous finish. The stewed fruit from the nose is all over the palate, but so is a hint of mossiness that starts to get us towards that “forest floor” element that Burgundies always seem to feature. Not quite, though.
The 2008 Hyland Pinot from Solena clocks in at a bit-high-in-my-opinion 14.5% ABV, but it’s balanced very nicely. The alcohol dominates neither the nose nor the palate, and the whole experience is very pleasant.
In fact, it’s more than pleasant. This is an excellent fruit-forward pinot noir. The “New World” doesn’t always have to compete with France and Italy. Sometimes, we can make our own rules, and rule our own wines. Viva Oregon pinot!