New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov recently assembled a small tasting panel to look at recent vintages of Oregon Pinot Noir. He writes, “Recent vintages of Oregon pinot noir have been fascinating. But they may have also been confusing for consumers who would like a one-word association with the notion of Oregon pinot noir.
The 2008s were ripe and powerful. The ’09s were lush and soft, while 2010 was fresh and high-toned. I loved the 2011 vintage. The growing season was long and cool, resulting in wines of great finesse and clarity that ought to age well. Many people have pronounced 2012 a landmark vintage. That may well have been true from the grower’s perspective. It was warmer and drier than 2011, without any of the anxiety over whether the grapes would ripen before the fall rains began. The wines were opulent and fleshy with plenty of soft, dark fruit. They were a perfect counterpoint to the 2011s.
Which brings us to 2013, a year that took a different turn. The vintage seemed set up to be good. Growers likened it to 2012, but instead of the dry, warm September and October that capped that year (and saved the year before), rains began in September and growers either had to pick the grapes early, perhaps sooner than they would have preferred, or risk rot and damage in the hopes of a dry spell. Either way, growers lost a good deal of their yield…”
The tasting of 20 bottles of 2013 pinot noir affirmed the departure from previous vintages.
“Savory, taut and earthy” were terms that Asimov and his tasting panel repeatedly used to describe the more than 20 samples of 2013 Oregon Pinot Noirs the group tasted. With even warmer vintages in 2014 and 2015, lovers of Oregon Pinot Noir may start using words such as “big, berry, voluptuous.”