The ‘Fifty Best’ Takes a Blind Look at Willamette Pinot Noir
The Willamette Valley is Oregon’s leading wine region, with two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards. It is recognized as one of the premier Pinot Noir producing areas in the world.
Wine producing in the Willamette Valley has a recent history going back only to 1965, when three UC Davis refugees believed that Oregon was an ideal place to grow Pinot Noir and other cool-climate varieties. Five years later, five other bonded wineries began planting vineyards with 35 acres. Then in 1974, growers in the Willamette Valley recognized the importance of clones of wine grape varieties. Previously, growers only knew that they needed to match the variety to the climate, which produced high quality grapes but low yields. So Oregon started planting Pinot Noir with different varieties of clones, mostly Pommard and Wadenswil, which provided a greater complexity of flavors, earlier ripening times and higher yields. Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley is all about the clones.
When the Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area was finally approved in 1983, winemaking in the region was on its way and growing fast. At last count there were 418 Oregon bonded wineries with 20,300 vineyard acres, of which 378 are located in the Willamette Valley.
The Fifty Best held a blind tasting of recent release Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs with 15 pre-qualified wine judges. All six Willamette Valley sub-appellations were represented in this tasting. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the wines were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles and served at room temperature.
We are pleased to announce that two wines from Dobbes Family Estate were awarded Gold Medals:
2012 Patricia’s Cuvee Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills, Oregon)
2012 Grand Assemblage Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills, Oregon)