Monday, May 23, 2011

Panther Creek Cellars Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir (2006)

It was two years ago that I married by beautiful wife, Clare, who I call my Angel.  On our honeymoon, which I have talked briefly about in prior blog posts, we visited the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  We made our base McMinnvile, Oregon and, from that little town, toured about one dozen  vineyards and wineries throughout the northern part of the valley.

I learned a lot from our tours, but, the one thing that never occurred to me is that there are winemakers out there who produce wines without a vineyard.  Whenever I saw a wine, I simply assumed that the winemaker grew his or her own grapes.   This was an assumption that I harbored for most our tour, as we went from one winemaker to the next, each with its own  vineyard, whether just a couple of acres or hundreds of acres. However, the last winemaker we visited, Panther Creek Cellars, does not own its own vines.  Instead, Panther Creek purchases the grapes that it uses in its wines from other vineyards. With these grapes, Panther Creek is able to make some great Pinot Noir wines, like the Shea Valley Pinot Noir (2006).  

Panther Creek has a tasting room, which both Clare and I visited in McMinnville, Oregon.  My parents had recommended that we add Panther Creek to the list of vineyards and wineries.  We were able to taste about six wine and relax amongst dozens of barrels of aging Pinot Noir.  Like most Willamette vintners, Panther Creek produces a couple of white wines, like its Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, but it is really known for its red wines, with ten Pinot Noir wines. 

We both loved the wines and purchased a couple of bottles to take home with us.  One of the bottles that we bought was the Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir. The grapes used to produce this wine come from the Shea Vineyard, which is located in the Yamhill/Carlton District.  This appellation is a subdistrict of the Willamette Valley AVA, which was once known for orchards, livestock and wheat.  Now, it is known for its wine, with approximately sixty vineyards and winemakers producing some great Pinot Noirs, like the wine that we bought.

The Shea Vineyard (2006), which is produced from Dijon, Pommard and Wadenswil clones, pours a nice crimson to burgundy red, which is very nice in a Pinot Noir.  The winemaker says there are aromas of plum, blackberry, anise, leather and vanilla.  Apart from the leather (which I can never sense in a wine), I did get the blackberries, anise and even some vanilla.  The winemaker also notes that the wine has flavors of, in addition to blackberries, black cherry, cocoa, orange peel, black pepper, currants and earth.  I have to say that my palate is still developing and I did not get all of those flavors.  However, I did get blackberries and black cherries, with some spice, especially in the finish.  There was definitely some residual black pepper that stuck on the tongue long after the wine is gone.

This wine is available at the Panther Creek Tasting Room and online at the winery's website.  If it is still available, it sells for about $43 a bottle. 

ENJOY! 

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