Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2017 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley has a pale to medium ruby color and opens with crunchy cranberries, blackberries, pomegranate, dried herbs and dusty earth with touches of bitter peel and bark. The light-bodied, silky palate offers pure, earth-laced, crunchy fruits, finely grained and fresh on the earthy finish. (EB)
Deep magenta. Spice-accented dark berries, cherry cola, mocha and rose oil on the fragrant nose. Sappy, palate-coating blackberry and bitter cherry flavors are joined by a smoky nuance that emerges with air. A hint of dark chocolate sneaks in on the persistent finish, which is framed by dusty, mounting tannins. 29% new oak. (JR)
Though Oregon's Willamette Valley Pinot Noir wines are less well-known, and certainly rarer on wine shop shelves—near non-existent on supermarket aisles outside of their home state—than California Pinot Noir, they are, after all, world-class Pinots. And as such, you'll have a hard time finding much wine from the region at a "fighting varietal" price point like $15, or $20. Penner-Ash's valley-wide appellation Pinot, at just under $40, is a good place to start.
Wine Advocate's Erin Brooks writes: "In 2016 Penner-Ash was purchased by Jackson Family Wines. Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash says it will allow the winery access to more top vineyard sites like Gran Moraine and Zena Crown to use in their Willamette Valley blend and the brand's single-designate Pinot Noirs. 'We built our reputation on small-lot vineyard designates,' she explains. 'These vineyard designates show what we're doing with the different AVAs and how they work themselves into the blends for our Willamette Valley wines. We will take more fruit from the designates to add to the Willamette blend because we want it to be consistent. It's our flagship bottling and our largest blend.' Winemaking is adjusted each year to suit the particular vintage. 'Our formula is purely based on vintage. For example, our barrel usage transitions from 19% to 40%. There's no real formula. We are just trying to make the best wine we can from a particular vintage.'"
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