- 2022 Pinot Noir, Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Lot #124, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($12.99 @Trader Joe’s in California)
Thirsty Thursday has rolled around again, and it is time for another Wine of the Week (WoW!). Let’s get started…
In a post a few weeks ago, we were railing about how mediocre most Pinot Noir – especially those under $20 – and the market forces to blame. So here is a rarity is this sea of medocrity. A Pinot Noir that tastes like it should, given the grape, and where it is grown. Bonus: it’s $12.99.
If you are a fan of fleshy, overripe and unnaturally dark-colored Pinots, this is not your wine. But if you are a fan of Pinot Noirs with “typicity” (that is, they taste like they should) you should really enjoy this bottling. If for no other reason than it will teach you what a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir should taste like, which has more in common with French renditions than those grown in California.
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.
Light to medium-bodied, Oregon Pinot is more finely boned than California Pinot, and displays a wide, aromatic range of flavors including strawberry, raspberry, delicate floral notes, and earthier notes like mushroom and truffle. As with other famous regions that produce this Noble grape, Oregon’s Pinot Noir can be as sophisticated and compelling as a fine red Burgundy. While the wine industry in Oregon is relatively young, world-class wines, especially Pinot Noir have come from this cool climate region for years.
The heart of the Oregon wine industry lies in the Willamette Valley, and has a similar latitude and climate as Burgundy. Pinot Noir first made its way to this picturesque region in 1959, thanks to the man who is widely credited as the father of Oregon Pinot Noir, Richard Sommers. He planted the first vines in Umpqua Valley and later established HillCrest Vineyard in Roseberg, in 1961. Pinot Noir is challenging to grow, it’s a small vine with tight clusters (it actually translates to black pine, reflecting the color and cone shape of the grape clusters) and is susceptible to issues like rot and mildew. Known as the “heartbreak grape”, it can be a headache for winemakers and vineyard managers alike, yet is grown all over the world, and can command higher prices than other varieties for this reason.
Rusty ruby in the glass. Earthy nose, with some red fruit. Medium- body, high acidity, powerful but fine tannins. Cherry and raspberry on the entry, followed by minerals and savory notes. Medium-length oaky finish. A more subtle and delicate pinot. Moderate ABV at 13.5%. Would pair well with fattier cuts of meat, poultry, anything with wild mushrooms and the classic: grilled salmon.
Stop back next Thursday (or make it easy and give us a follow) to discover yet another Wine of the Week. We live to Wow! you.
Need More Wine Picks from Trader Joe’s – or Costco?
If your search for this wine lands you in Trader Joe’s, take along our handy Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.
And if your wine shopping excursions land you in Costco, prepare by grazing our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.