Hyland Estates Estate Pinot Noir 2015
Originally planted in 1971, just five years after the first Pinot Noir was planted in the Willamette Valley, the 100 acre vineyard has been the source of fruit for many top scoring wines from some of Oregon's most recognized producers.
Stretching southwest from the city of McMinnville, the AVA with the same name covers about 40,000 acres across 20 miles until it meets the Van Duzer Corridor. This corridor is the only break in the Coast Range whose gap allows the cool Pacific Ocean air to flow eastward into the Willamette Valley.
The Pacific's moderating winds hit McMinnville’s south and southeast facing slopes where cool-climate varieties—namely Pinot noir and Pinot blanc thrive on ridges at between 200 to 1,000 feet in elevation.
Soils here are primarily uplifted marine sedimentary loam and silt, with alluvial formations; McMinnville receives less rainfall than its neighbors to the east because it is situated in the rain shadow of the Coast Range.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.