John Paul Kaminga
Pinofest Destiny: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Wanna make Thanksgiving wine easy? Choose Pinot Noir.
If you start looking into typical Thanksgiving wine recommendations, you will surely find Pinot Noir quickly. A great pairing for all sorts of roasted poultry, Pinot makes perfect sense for our annual turkeyfest. You'll find beautiful Pinot from all over the world, but for Thanksgiving we are very likely to recommend a Willamette Valley Pinot. One might generalize and say that Willamette Pinot bridges the gap between Burgundy and California, but that ends up being a vague and rather meaningless idea; the matter of Pinot and its preferred terrains is just too complicated. The easy way to justify choosing Willamette is to assert that there is incredible value to be found. There are $25 wines that deliver delicious and clear expressions of the region's cool climate, and at $50 you can find wines that compete with storied crus in Burgundy. Check out a couple fabulous turkey wines below:
Evesham Wood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2019 - $25
One of our favorite producers in the Willamette Valley, Evesham Wood makes a fresh and earthy style of Pinot Noir, a style that really showcases how Oregon is different (read: cooler and wetter) than California. Their 2019 Willamette is one of the best vintages in recent memory, full of crunchy stone fruit and berry notes, as well as nuances of pine needles, smoke, flowers and spice. Lively and bright on the palate, with an easy dusting of tannin and wonderfully tangy acids, it is a wine built for the table. Superb value here; not a lot of $25 wine we'd rather be drinking.
St. Innocent Pinot Noir 'Shea Vineyard' 2016 - $50 (previously $60)
Mark Vlossak founded St. Innocent in 1988 and has long been one of Willamette Valley's most celebrated winemakers. A primary focus at St. Innocent is to express a sense of place, and Mark makes a number of single vineyard bottlings. His Shea Vineyard bottling is perhaps his most prestigious wine, but we sometimes shy away because of the price. We just got a fabulous deal on the 2016 vintage, and could not resist. Rich and dense, as Pinot goes, this is just starting to enter its prime drinking window, but will certainly evolve positively for many more years.
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