After thirty years as a winemaker in Napa Valley, Tony Soter and his wife Michelle returned to their native state of Oregon in 2002, intent on producing world-class Pinot Noir. Tony had already established a name for himself as both the founder of Etude wines in Napa as well as consulting winemaker for some of Napa's most respected wineries. But while some winemakers thrive in the role of hired gun, embracing the challenges of dealing with diverse challenges in disparate settings, Soter was more enchanted by the possibilities offered by attention to a bounded, unique locale.
Not only was Oregon home, but it is also one of the heartlands of Pinot Noir production in the U.S., as the climate and latitude of the Willamette Valley match that of Burgundy. Tony's attachment to the Pinot Noir grape comes from its ability to transmit the characteristics of the land into the finished product. "Pinot Noir is the most appropriate vehicle with which to study winegrowing, precisely because of its demanding nature, but also for its delicacy and transparency," according to Tony.
The Soter North Valley Pinot Noir 2006 blends fruit from multiple sources in the Willamette Valley to ensure consistency and balance. Rather than paying growers by the ton, Tony pays them by the acre, which allows growers to prune for lower yields, ensuring grapes with higher concentration. The result is a blended Pinot Noir that can hold its ground against many single-estate Oregon Pinots.
The wine is bright red in color, with fresh raspberry and blackberry aromas offering fragrant, jammy appeal. The nose also integrates a dusty minerality. Pliant red fruit flavors give this wine an appealing, juicy character while silky tannins add gentle grip and focus to the redcurrant-flavored finish.
Pair this wine with roasted cornish game hens served with an herb and shallot butter.