Oregon – Tasting Notes

2008 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve

2008 Domaine Serene, Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve (RT95) This classic Pinot Noir from the attention getting 2008 vintage is drinking magically well fourteen years in. Maintaining its rather deep, ruby garnet hue, with just a short time in the glass attractive, fruit-driven notes of strawberry, red raspberry, a splash of cranberry, a blend of dried plums and wilted pomegranate, and hints of crisp sous bois. This is all about the wonderful fruit, where its superb depth makes it a delicious pairing with grilled Sockeye Salmon that I caught on the Alaskan Kenai River. The palate texture is both complete and mouthcoating, the acidity magnificently refreshing and the sweet, ripe tannins adding a decided completeness. This should continue to drink exceptionally well for another 5-10 years, but it is clearly in its peak drinking window. Drink now-2030+



This year Adelsheim celebrates 50 years in the busines. What an accomplishment for David and Ginny Adelsheim and their Team to reflect on! Back then, they risked it all by purchasing 19 acres of what would become the Chehalem Mountains’ first ever winery. Since then, they have pursued their vinous upbringings with endless passion, commitment, and zest for what they do!

While the majority of the fruit is estate grown (vineyards they own), they do source some fruit from qualified grower partners. Adelsheim is a LIVE certified winery and employs sustainable methods.

Today, their winery is diverse and alluring, yet maintains its place as a work in progress. Winemaker Gina Hennen leads the Team with her sense of impassioned focus and has brought an enlightened, progressive style to the winery that has continually moved the wines up the qualitative ladder. This is aided by the diverse soils, mico-climates, and an adaptive winemaking style to roll with what mother nature gives them. This combination has resulted in countless industry awards.

2020 Adelsheim, Willamette Valley, Rose (RT91) This 100% pinot noir reveals the delicate persona of this outstanding grape with its beautifully balanced palate, fresh acidit, and delicious fruit. It’s pale terracotta hue harkens to traditional French rose from the Mediterranean Coast while its overall balance leans a smidge toward its fresh Willamette Valley origins. Delicately nuanced while maintaining focus, this is filled with ambiance, it overdelivers for the price point. The enlightened winemaking style at Adelsheim, with the torch being carried by winemaker Gina Hennen, is highlighted in this rose. 2% of the juice is aged in neutral oak to round out its curb appeal. Drink now-2024

2017 Adelsheim, Chardonnay, Chehalem Mountains, Staking Claim (RT92) A fresh, bright blend of four different single vineyards: Grand Oak, Boulder Bluff, Ribbon Springs, and Bryan Creek. The fruit is hand-picked and then whole cluster pressed, resulting in a Chardonnay that speaks its roots in spades while allowing the enlightened, progressive vinification to speak out. 20% malolactic fermentation gives it just enough richness to create a mouth coating texture, yet leaves you coming back for another sip. Notes of crisp yellow apple, a hint of honeydew and notes of minerality and chalk keep this wine fresh and bright, while the mouthfeel is zesty and bright with well-balanced fruit and refreshing acidity. Don’t serve this too cold or you’ll miss the subtle details. The artful oak treatment allows the fruit to be the centerpiece. Yummy! Drink now-2026+

2018 Adelsheim, Chardonnay, Ribbon Springs (RT93+) Every detail is ramped up in the Ribbon Springs Chardonnay, harvested from one of their LIVE-certified vineyards. Here the malolactic fermentation and oak aging is higher, while maintaining the magic touch of wine maker Gina Hennen. Balance is everything. Deeply nuanced with notes of Golden Delicious apples, yellow peach, gunflint and a dollop of crème fraiche. Time in the glass prompts gravely notes reminiscent of a fine white burgundy. The texture is rich, round and lush with a ling, taunting finish. Wonderfully crafted, this is a beautiful chardonnay that represents its origins in a first-class manner. Drink now-2028+

2016 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Breaking Ground (RT92+) This workhorse bottling is a hard charging wine that shows the magic of the AVA with notes of red raspberry, cherry compote, pomegranate, hints of crushed sandstone and a smattering of sous bois. The mouthfeel is light, airy, and amply fruited with elegant, sweet tannins and refreshing acidity. It reveals an enchanting pinot noir character from a challenging vintage. A few years of cellaring should allow it to develop a bit more depth and nuance. It currently needs some breathing time to show it best, either a quick decant or some time in the glass should do the trick. Aged 11 months in French oak of which 20% was new, that balance neutral. Drink now-2028+

2018 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Calkins Lane (RT93) This is a small production wine from the vineyards surrounding the Adelsheim Winery and Tasting Room. It shows a deeply nuanced bouquet with dark red cherry, ripe strawberry, hints of mushroom, and crunchy, fall forest floor. The palate delivers a decadently rich fruit core, but maintains its freshness with vibrant acidity and soft, ripe tannins. A stunning wine that shows the progress of the enlightened winemaking style of using 100% French oak but keeping the percentage of new oak to just 30%. The balance is neutral. This will do well with mid-term cellaring to coax out the details but is drinking well today with a little air to allow it to unwind. A lovely bottling, it can be laid down in a cool, dark place! Drink now-2033+

2018, Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Boulder Bluff (RT94+) Another small production wine with less than 5000 bottles produced. 2018 Boulder Bluff delivers dark, mentholated cherry liqueur, dried strawberry, woodsy notes and closes with an alluring spicy note. The palate is fully fruited, has wonderful balance, fresh acidity, and ripe tannins. This is a big, broad shouldered, powerhouse pinot noir that is drinking gorgeously and has excellent cellaring potential yet satisfies the soul now. Give it plenty of air if you’re opening it in the near term. Hand destemmed with 10% whole cluster fermentation and aged 10 months in French oak, of which 32% is new. This fruit is harvested from a LIVE-certified vineyard, some of which is grown from cuttings sourced from the first block planted in 1974 by David Adelsheim. Drink now-2038+

2018 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Springs (RT95) Crafted in the same style as the Calkins Lane and Boulder Bluff pinot noirs using 10% whole cluster fermentation, the Ribbon Springs is a hulking bruiser that bellows out deep notes of black cherry, hints of ripe plum, a puff of gun smoke and layers and layers of minerality. The palate is equally massive, with a rich, late harvest quality that delivers sexy, ripe richness, deep acidity, and super ripe, sweet tannins. Yet is maintains a decided weightlessness throughout its delivery. This wine is stunning in everyway and can be drunk now (with ample air), or for maximum enjoyment laid down in the cool shadows of your wine cellar for a decade-plus. Roughly 5000 bottles produced and aged in French oak for 10 months, of which 30% was new. Drink now-2038+


2018 Martin Woods, Willamette Valley, Chardonnay (RT92+) With a light straw color, this lovely, clean Chardonnay delivers a fresh bright style with notes of crisp Asian pear, white peach, crème fraiche, and crushed gravel. The mouthfeel is equally clean and bright with focused, deliciously silky fruit, tight acidity and a captivating, long finish marked with minerality. This is beautiful winemaking with a bright future and there is no evidence of oak on this wine, yet it’s vinified in Oregon oak, aka Quercus Garryana. It’s aged for 11 months on lees in 228 and 400 liter barrels. Drink now-2030


Both wines reviewed here were bought on release and stored in my cellar since. A very impressive showing from both, at age 8 they’re now in the early stages of maturity and showing very well, but their best years are ahead. For those who are drinking their Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs on the young side, this is a reminder of the tremendous upside to cellaring them. Don’t be shy. Find wines you adore, buy 3-6 and lay them down. You’ll be so happy you did!

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2012 Bergström, Oregon Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Salice (RT 95) A study in magnificence, this is showing incredible provenance, depth and dimension. Talk about full value! Showing a deep translucent ruby hue, the bouquet reveals an enticing spicey character as notes of strawberry, cranberry, cinnamon, Asian spices, and a pinch of cardamon punctuates the complex aromas. The mouthfeel is deliciously balanced with sweet, succulent fruit, beautiful acidity, and perfectly ripe sweet tannins. Josh Bergström has embodied this Willamette Valley terroir to perfection in this luxurious vintage. Drink now-2032+

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2012 Bergström, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Bergström Vineyard (RT 96) A stunning expression of their 13-acre flagship vineyard planted in 1999. For vines a mere 13 years of age when this wine was made, this is a mind-blowing achievement. I can only imagine this vineyard will be producing when these become true old vines! The bouquet soars from the glass revealing a magnificent performance centered on sweet red fruits of perfect ripeness, amazingly detailed spice and just the right amount of mineral driven terroir. Fresh and vibrant! The mouthfeel is compelling with superb balance of fruit, acid, and a pirouette of sweet, ripe tannin to bring things to a perfect finish. The is an utterly spellbinding Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and a tribute to Josh Bergström winemaking talents. Burgundy winemakers should pay close attention! Drink now-2032+


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2006 Fiddlehead Cellars, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Oldsville Reserve(RT93) Sourced from the Elton and Alloro Vineyards, Kathy Joseph has crafted a wonderful, expressive Pinot Noir that has aged gracefully and reinforces those who are cellaring their Willamette Valley reds. Light ruby with excellent clarity, notes of strawberry and dried raspberry blend with hints of blood orange, rose hips and an accent of dried leaves and allspice. The mouthfeel is light, playful and entertaining, as soft acidity and sublime tannins bring a satisfying finish to it. The fruit remains lively and fresh as I followed this for two days, although the initial smokiness faded on day two. An excellent food wine! Drink now-2026


2016 Bergström, Willamette Valley AVA, Cumberland Reserve (RT 93) The current release of this tasty Oregon Pinot Noir shows seductive notes of sweet ripe strawberry, raspberry, Asian spices and hints of morels and porcinis. The fruit forward style makes this exceptionally delicious with a mouthwatering character artfully crafted on elegant fruit, soft acidity and sumptuous sweet tannins. Built for early to mid-term drinking and meant to be paired with food. Josh Bergstrom has hit another one out of the park, this leans toward a true Burgundian style of Willamette Pinot Noir and is well priced for the exceptional quality. Drink now-2026+ Available in the upper $30s to low $40s


The new, redesigned label on 2019 Unconditional

2021 Battle Creek, Pinot Noir, Unconditional (RT92) From the excellent 2021 vintage, this is a superb expression of Willamette Valley’s growing viticulture and the terrific vintage conditions. A beautifully expressive, top value bottling that reveals a delicious bouquet layered with sweet, ripe red cherry, red plum, raspberry, hints of anise and a smattering of minerality. It shows a fruit-driven palate that is medium bodied, supple, and loaded with fresh acidity and wonderfully ripe tannins. As domestic Pinot Noirs go, I find the balance of fruit and terroir particularly appealing, and the price offering an exception value. Drink now-2030

2019 Battle Creek, Oregon, Pinot Noir, Unconditional (RT91) The 2019 Unconditional is highly expressive and delivers a fine bouquet. Deep translucent ruby, it wafts up notes of sweet, ripe cherry, red plum, raspberry, hints of anise and notes of cola. This shows a bit more fruit dominance than the 2018. The palate is light and soft with refreshing acidity and ripe tannins. This is an excellent and versatile value in the domestic pinot noir market that outperforms many in the same price category. $15-20 in the retail market. Drink now-2026+

2018 Battle Creek, Oregon, Pinot Noir, Unconditional (RT90) Aged in mostly French oak for eight months and crafted by the talented winemaker Sarah Cabot, the 2018 Unconditional expresses an alluring sense of terroir with ripe, deeply nuanced notes of red raspberry and strawberry accented with wisps of mushroom, forest floor and a hint of late fall dried leaves. Gorgeously fruited with soft acidity and supple tannin, this is a terrific Pinot Noir value. Drink now-2024

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