Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Privé Vineyard Le Nord (2006)

I've written a few times about my honeymoon with my Angel in Oregon and Willamette Valley.  I planned the honeymoon to provide us both with an opportunity to not just taste wine, but to learn about the process of making wine.  Oregon's Willamette Valley provided an excellent backdrop for this adventure and we were fortunate enough to be led by a very knowledgeable and friendly guide, Mike Thomas of Wine Tours Northwest.

Mike took us to over a dozen vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms throughout the valley, but the one that he considered to be the "prize" was a visit to a very small, artisan winery called Privé Vineyards.  Privé is a family owned and operated winery located in the Chehalem Mountains, where there is the Ribbon Ridge American Viticultural Area ("AVA") and the Chehalem Mountains AVA.  An AVA is the American version of a wine appellation; however, unlike the European counterparts (like the Italian DOC or DOCG), an AVA simply defines the geographic area where eighty-five percent of the grapes must come from when making the wine.  An AVA does not limit the types of grapes grown or the making of the wine.

Privé Vineyard consists only of two and one-half acres, divided into two plots named Le Nord and Le Sud.  Le Nord is a plot of one and one-half acres, while Le Sud is a plot of one acre.  The winery plants Pommard (Burgundian) clones in both plots, which are on Jory (or red clay) soil. 

Privé Vineyard is not open to the public; there are no tour buses pulling up and unloading dozens of people trying to live the Sideways experience.  Instead, we were fortunate enough that Mike was able to arrange a wine tasting with the winemaker, Tina Hammond, at the vineyard, one that both Clare and I believe to be the best wine tasting of the entire trip.

One of the wines we tasted was the Le Nord, which is a Pinot Noir made exclusively from the grapes of the Le Nord plot.  We loved the wine so much we bought a bottle of the Le Nord (2006), as well as other bottles, to take home with us.  Well, on New Years Eve, 2010, we opened our bottle of Le Nord, and drinking the wine brought back many good memories for both of us. 

The wine pours a deep, ruby red, which is suggestive of the nose and taste to come.  The aromatic aspects of the wine are full of cinnamon, cherries and other, more earthy scents.  I could sit and take in the aroma of the wine all night.  As good as the aromatics of the Le Nord may be, they are surpassed by the taste of the wine.  When you taste the wine, you get a strong cherry and blackberry taste, with some hint of pepper and spice.  Moreover, the wine is very smooth to drink.  I keep catching myself while drinking it to make sure that I don't drink it too fast so that I can enjoy this wine properly. 

Le Nord is perhaps one of the best Pinot Noirs that I've had from Willamette Valley.  I strongly encourage people to try this wine if you have the chance.  The wine is not widely distributed, as there are only about two hundred cases produced for a given vintage.  However, if you find yourself in Oregon and/or are lucky enough to come across a bottle, my suggestion would be to buy it immediately.  Then, when you have a special occasion, open the bottle and enjoy it with someone special.


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