Gorgeous aromas of wild berry, crushed blue-and-black fruits, and minerals, with a hint of new wood. Juicy, rich, and expansive on the attack, with a layered mix of blueberry, red cherry, and plum, tinged with white pepper.
After reports of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were published in the early 1800s, pioneers flocked to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, following trails that had been cut by fur traders and mountain men. They discovered a beautiful 150-mile swath of land surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges — the Oregon Coast Range to the west, the often-snowcapped Cascades to the east, and the Calapooya Mountains to the south.
The valley was remarkably fertile, thanks to a series of massive ice-age floods that flowed from Lake Missoula in Montana and across Eastern Washington, sweeping topsoil down the Columbia River Gorge. Geologists speculate that the inundation backed up and filled the valley with water — 300-400 feet above sea level. The lake gradually drained, leaving behind fine layers of sedimentary soils.
As we learned during an absolutely riveting stay in Willamette Valley last October, those sedimentary soils give birth to the most exquisite Pinot Noir this side of Vosne-Romanée — few richer, more muscular, and more Burgundian in makeup than the 2014 White Rose Estate.
If you’ve never visited Oregon, plan a trip for next summer. Book three nights at The Allison Spa and Hotel above Newberg, one of the most beautifully appointed vineyard getaways anywhere on the coast. Spend your days winery-hopping, tasting luscious Pinot Noirs from the ultra-ripe 2012 and 2014 and soon-to-be-released 2015 vintages in tasting rooms that, as in Burgundy, are often manned by the same family members who tend to the vines and the cellar.
For the splashiest setting, head to the Dundee Hills and Domaine Serene. For the sheer beauty of Oregon’s rolling hills, don’t miss Bernie Lacroute’s WillaKenzie Estate. And if you’re on the lookout for what the critics believe to be the Willamette Valley’s most exquisite old-vine Pinot Noir, do NOT miss the beautiful tasting room at White Rose Estate. You may never go home again.
In the summer of 2000, Greg Sanders knocked on the door of an old farmhouse perched at the top of the Dundee Hills, just up the road from Domaine Serene. A small vineyard, planted to wide spacing and self-rooted in 1980, surrounded that farmhouse. The Pinot Noir off the vineyard was known for its deep color, concentration, and muscled structure, and had been bottled in superb vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs by Panther Creek, St. Innocent, and Torii Mor. It wouldn’t be long before Sanders purchased the vineyard and farmhouse and began pouring a small fortune into White Rose Estate.
The 2014 harvest in the Dundee Hills brought the critics to their knees. Wine Spectator dropped a blazing 94-97 points on the vintage overall, fueling the fire every week with each new score of 94 points or more. Soon after, Antonio Galloni’s Vinous came on in a paragraph titled “Another Vintage of a Lifetime? Maybe Two in a Row?”, emphasizing that 2014 is “a vintage that’s at least the equal of 2012.” The warm, dry growing season made for an early harvest of small-berry clusters of Russian River-like concentration, still buttressed by textbook Burgundian backbone. The 35-year-old vines at White Rose Estate performed like never before, making for one of the top three Pinot Noirs — at ANY price — of our stay in the valley.
Brilliant ruby. Gorgeous aromas of wild berry, crushed blue-and-black fruits, and minerals, with a hint of new wood. Juicy, rich, and expansive on the attack, with a layered mix of blueberry, red cherry, and plum, tinged with white pepper. Finishes with energy and tension, speaking to these deep-rooted 35-year-old vines. Drink now-2025.
93 points from Wine Spectator, the publication’s Top-Rated Willamette Valley Pinot Noir of the vintage under $40/bottle. Just $36/bottle today.
It needs time to breathe. My first glass after about 15 minutes of air was very nice, but for the price paid also very disappointing. After an hour + of air it CAME ALIVE.
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