- 2020 Kirkland Signature Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($12.99 @ Costco, California – Item #975274)
No, that subject line is not a recently-spied vanity license plate on the highways here in SoCal. It is short hand for this week’s featured wine from the PNW. (Shorthand for the Pacific Northwest, aka the “other” west coast wine producing region(s).
It’s been a while since we featured the 2017 vintage of this bottling. In the time warp that is the Covid 19 era, we somehow missed two vintages. Some things haven’t changed though. Same winemaker, and same product number at Costco. But there have been some important changes. Firstly, it has had what we in the wine trade refer to as a re-branding. Plastic surgeons would call it a face life. In other words, the labels and foil capsule have changed, and been improved in our opinion.
But wait, there’s more!
Namely, the price has dropped. You read that right, in a time where nearly everything seems to be getting more costly, this particular wine has slipped from $14.99 to $12.99. Nice!
While it might be convenient to lump Washington and Oregon together in one great big monoculture, they are in reality quite different. Of the three west coast wine producing states, Oregon is the most markedly different and struggles the most to achieve ripening.
Simply put, warm temperatures ripen grapes and drive sugar thus alcohol levels up. While the aforementioned 2017 was just 12.5% ABV, this one registers 13.5%. Still low by US standards, but suggestive of a warmer year in the vineyard in 2020.
The Willamette Valley is one of the most influential wine producing regions in all of Oregon as well as the entire Pacific Northwest. The region spans from the Columbia River in the north all the way down to Eugene in the South. It is by far Oregon’s largest AVA and is dominated by plantings of Pinot Noir and smaller amounts of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
Coming from the “WV” where Pinot Noir is king, the Kirkland brand is a solid choice for an every-day, easy drinking wine.
Once poured, the wine in the glass is a color that is a bit paler than the normal ruby shade that one associates with Pinot Noir from warmer areas. It was mildly fragrant with black cherry, plum, and the tyical Dr. Pepper earthiness. These translated smoothly into the flavor spectrum once tasted, and it had nice notes of allspice in the finish. For a great food pairing, try this wines with herb-crusted roasted chicken, pork loin, mild game birds or simple grilled salmon.
When first opened, I found the wine a bit more rustic than when I revisited it the next day, when it was more balanced. So you might consider decanting this one for an hour or so.
Getting oriented to the wine regions of the PNW:
Sarah Cabot is the winemaker for Kirkland’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. While she previously made her mark crafting small production, artisanal wines that did quite well, she is now head of winemaking for Precept Wine’s 100K case Oregon portfolio, which includes the Kirkland Signature Series Pinot Noir brand.
“My objective has shifted over the years,” she says in a recent article. “Now it’s to make the best $15 Pinot Noir—a wine that can line up and perform next to a $25 Pinot in a blind tasting.
Let us know if you think she has succeeded here.