The 2011 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a perfect Oregon color: beautiful, dark and brilliant burgundy red from the center of the rim. When first produced, intense aromatics of wet stone, black cherries, ripe raspberries, cassis, tobacco and forest floor notes jump from the glass. After some time, the wine opens and deepens revealing notes of iris, cinnamon, spice and huckleberries. In the mouth, the attack opens with red fruit flavors and minerals which transform into darker fruit flavors as the wine moves along the palate. Firm ripe tannins and a rich texture characterize the long finish with lingering flavors of red fruits and wet stones.
Although the 2011 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is drinking well now, it has the focus, balance and intensity to age and become more complex over the next 20 years.
Rex Hill Winery
Rex Hill has been making elegant Pinot Noir for 30 years in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The landmark winery is located at the gateway to Oregon's wine country and welcomes visitors daily to their historic tasting room. Estate vineyards, including the crown jewel, Jacob Hart Vineyard, are farmed to Biodynamic tenets and the winery itself is L.I.V.E. certified. Now owned by the families at A to Z Winewords, the Rex Hill legacy of superior Pinot noir continues. The group brings combined Oregon winemaking experience that spans more than two decades and three continents, as well as high energy, commitment and love of Oregon Pinot Noir.
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Named for the river that runs through the valley from Portland to Eugene, Willamette Valley is home to some of the best Pinot Noir vineyards in the Northwest. While along the same north/south line as Seattle, the Willamette Valley is protected from Pacific rains by the Coast Range on the western border and the Cascade Ranges to the east. Though sunshine is typically plentiful, rainfall can occasionally be tricky, and the wines here vary vintage to vintage. Within the Willamette Valley is a number of sub-regions, including McMinnville, Dundee and Yamhill.
The valley is known for its Pinots – Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. With a climate similar to Burgundy – in rainfall, sunlight hours and other climate factors – Pinot Noir has flourished here. Pinot Noir in Oregon produces wines that are fruit forward, yet complex, some with good agebility.
Other than Pinot Noir, many wineries grow Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Pinot Gris from Oregon is delightful in its texture and food friendliness. Chardonnay in the valley adapts well to the cool climate and produces lean, elegant wines.
Oregon has long been an agricultural state, producing everything from hazelnuts to cattle. The Willamette Valley in particular is a fertile basin for all sorts of produce. Not quite pegged as a wine state, in 1965, a UC Davis graduate named David Lett decided that the Willamette's climate mirrored that of Burgundy in France. With that in mind, he decided to plant some Pinot Noir clones to see how they did. And a good gamble it was. The Willamette is now one of the only regions in the world to focus solely on Pinot Noir as its red variety. Also known for Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The southern part of Oregon has been slower in delving into the world wine market, but has been making excellent strides with their Rhone style varietals, like Syrah and Grenache. There are also coastal regions producing promising wines.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.