New Customers Save $20 off $100+* with code FEBNEW20
New Customers Save $20* with code FEBNEW20
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McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007
This 07 shows what a skilled winemaker who knows his vineyard can do in a difficult vintage. Matt's super value Pinot has bright berry and red cherry fruit with just a tiny hint of spice. The wine opens up in your mouth and shows hints of spice and a hint of cream. You can sip this wine, and pair with foods from pizza to turkey to lamb. Matt is truly a very talented vintner.
Regularly noted for his elegant, Burgundian style, Matt is a firm believer in making his wines in the vineyard. His vines are dry farmed in well drained, volcanic soil and the shoots are trained upward, for optimal sun exposure and ventilation. Only one cluster is allowed to form on each shoot. Unsurprisingly, production is extremely low, with a focus rather on depth and concentration of flavor.
Matt believes in then letting the fruit speak for itself, exhorting Pinot Noir's ability to "Express itself in such a confident and understated form. Pinot Noir at its finest is red, not black; freshly fragrant; richly and brightly flavored with complexity and length."
The wines he produces are a beautiful expression of this ideal. They are fermented with native yeasts, lightly aged in no more than 25% new oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Or as Matt would put it: "The winemaker's hand is light to balance, not mute these attributes and promote the purest possible expression a vineyard has to offer."
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. The silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.
The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.