2012 Soter Vineyards, North Valley Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $49.75
Winery info: In 2001 Tony and Michelle Soter purchased property in Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton District and created their 240-acre Mineral Springs Ranch. They have 32 acres planted to grapes and make stunning wines from this fruit, as well as with fruit from other select vineyards with which they work closely. 2012 is the debut vintage of their “Origin” series of Pinot Noirs sourced from several specific sub-appellations in the northern Willamette Valley and produced in very limited quantities.
Winemaker: Portland native Tony Soter, who worked for over 25 years consulting for top California wineries such as Shafter, Spottswoode, Viader, and Niebaum-Coppola before returning to Oregon to make wine in his home state.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, aged in French oak (33% new, 67% neutral barrels)
Vineyard source: From vineyards located exclusively within the Dundee Hills AVA with volcanic, iron-rich Jory soil.
Flavor profile: A rich and powerful expression of Dundee Hills fruit, with layers of dark cherry, elegant floral notes, and a lovely earthy minerality.
Production/Availability: 439 cases. It’s still in good supply.
Drinkability: Now through 2020
Food Pairing: Plank salmon with seasonal mushrooms.
2013 Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden, Viognier, $36
Winery info: After Bill and Barbara Steele purchased their southern Oregon property in 2002, they discovered that parts of the site had very similar characteristics to that of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and proceeded to plant southern Rhône grape varietals, with great success. They farm completely biodynamically and are Demeter certified.
Winemaker: Bill and Barbara Steele, with consulting winemaker Ken Bernards of Napa’s Ancien Wines
Grapes: 100% Viognier, aged three months in 28% new French oak. They ferment using native yeasts and the wine does not go through malolactic fermentation.
Vineyard source: Block 3 of their estate vineyard in the Applegate Valley AVA, planted on alluvial gravel soil with an average elevation of 1,550 feet.
Flavor profile: Aromatic and supple, with flavors of hazelnuts and fresh apples. Wonderfully balanced—neither too plump nor too lean—with a long, lingering finish.
Production/Availability: 250 cases. This vintage is now sold out at the winery but the distributor still has a decent supply.
Food Pairing: Would pair nicely with a richer white fish such as halibut. They advise not to serve this wine too cold (in order to best enjoy the lovely aromatics).