October 30, 2018
We highlight some of the top Oregon Pinot Noirs from the 2011 vintage which showed marvelously. At their best these wines show tremendous tension, range and beautiful earthy tones.
Initially panned as a poor vintage, many wine critics, including myself, were downright incorrect in reviewing the 2011 vintage. What is now in the glass is typically something more linear, earthy and in its best edition, thoroughly intoxicating. It is clear that many of these wines were not ready upon release and needed time to develop in the bottle. I think that 2011 as a vintage, like 2007, is particularly challenging to rate, due to the range of quality in the wines. Originally upon release I saw this vintage as better than most Oregon wine reviewers, rating it 88, as I noted good and even great wines made upon release as well as some lean, bordering watery wines, particularly with some of the value Pinot Noirs that struggled with gaining adequate concentration. I have re-rated this vintage 90 as there are far more wines that are near or exceed 90 points. In fact, I tried a very high concentration of wine that I rated over 90 points.
It is worth noting that when I review Oregon Pinot Noir I do not particularly reward deep and concentrated wines. I feel that a Burgundian style Pinot Noir from Oregon that is complex, layered and shows amazing range has the same potential for a high score than a Pinot Noir that shows marvelous concentration, richness and texture alongside good tension. Obviously with the 2014-16 vintages in Oregon, crafting wines in a Burgundian style is a good deal more challenging than producing wines that show more opulence and ripe fruit.
2011 Panther Creek ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ Pinot Noir- The 2011 ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ by Panther Creek needs more than an hour of air to develop. Once aroused the wine shows pretty red fruits with floral and citrus tones on the nose. I am surprised by the level of minerality to this wine which is quite striking and adds to the mouthfeel. Red cherry candy, guava and citrus rind flavors all come together nicely. This lithe and polished effort is drinking better than when I first reviewed it. Drink 2018-2026- 90
2011 Panther Creek ‘Temperance Hill Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- The 2011 Panther Creek ‘Temperance Hill Vineyard’ Pinot Noir is a really good effort. Similar to the ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ the wine improves following a one hour decant. The Pinot Noir takes on a highly Burgundian nose with orange rind and heavy forest floor elements aromatically. Bright, showing a soft mouthfeel, the wine shows off red currant, blood orange and mouth-watering acidity on the mid-palate. This is evolving quite nicely and still has a long life ahead of it. Drink 2018-2026- 91