Oregon Wine Club – September 2009

2007 Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
In the past, Penner-Ash wines have been too limited to put in our clubs, but the winery has finally expanded production enough to get good distribution in our market. Lynn Penner-Ash started her career as the winemaker for Rex Hill in 1988, and she founded Penner-Ash in the Chehalem Valley with her husband Ron in 1998. They have been respected for what they call “transparent” Pinots, very structured and elegant. This is their only non single vineyard Pinot Noir, sourced from a few different sites in the northern Willamette, and it’s a good introduction to their thoughtful style. With the grapes picked after the heavy rains, the wine shows a purity of red fruit combined with a lush texture and refined tannins that complement a nuanced finish of strawberry and vanilla. The nose reveals aromas of red raspberry, baking spice and sweet dried fruit, while the palate shows lots of red cherry, chocolate and cinnamon. It is ready to drink, excellent with lighter fare, in good supply, and only $42, the lowest price ever for the Willamette Valley bottling.

2006 Carabella Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
This wine is also from the Chehalem area, but it is sourced from higher elevation vines planted in a single estate in a warmer, richer year. As with Penner-Ash, Mike Hallock founded his winery in 1998, but since his background is geology, his wines are more driven by the unique gravelly soils of his estate vineyard. Mike is a master of matching particular clones of Pinot with particular soil types, an approach similar to that of Ken Cancilla. According to Mike, the softness of the Pommard clone and chocolate tannins of the Wadenswil round out the earthiness of the Dijon. Due to the warmth of the year, the wine is quite dark and plush, highlighting flavors of dark cherry, blackberries and plums with soft, mouth-filling tannins. Mike’s food pairing recommendation is Moroccan lamb stew. It’s ready to drink, also $42, and also in good supply.