The Wine Cellar: International Pinot Noir Celebration--the Wines
by Rene Corton
The tenth annual International Pinot Celebration featured wines from the 1993 and 1994 vintages. Both vintages were good to excellent in California. The 1993 vintage in Oregon started late and developed slowly until record warm weather in September and October ripened the fruit nicely, and harvest conditions were mostly dry. The resultant wines are aromatic and well balanced with good acidity and tannins.
In 1994, rain during the flowering season decreased the crop size, and the warm dry growing season resulted in very ripe concentrated fruit picked under ideal conditions. These wines are big, densely colored, and have ripe fruit flavors with moderate acidity and soft tannins.
In short, the '94s are big forward attention-getters, while the '93s are probably more classic and ageworthy.
Remember that vintage comments are only guides; making great pinot noir is partly science and partly art, and variations between producers can be much more important than vintages. Of the over 100 pinot noirs evaluated, I have selected some from Oregon that serve as outstanding examples and illustrate particular points.
Other outstanding wines: 1994 Tori Mor, 1994 Eola Hills Winemakers Reserve, 1994 Drouhin, 1994 Chehalem Reserve, 1993 Cameron Abbey Ridge, 1993 Bethel Heights Flat Block, and 1993 Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve.
- 1994 Panther Creek Freedom Hill Vineyard: Dense purple color, nearly opaque. Huge blackcherry nose and taste with plenty of concentration and substantial tannins and acid. Drink in 5 to 10 years.
- 1994 McKinlay Special Select: Even deeper purple tone and density with raisin ripe fruit character reminiscent of port. Very prominent alcohol. An impressive wine, but more like a late harvest zinfandel than typical pinot noir.
- 1994 St. Innocent Seven Springs Vineyard: Purple tone with medium density, a big rich blackcherry nose with round full taste with some complexity and a long finish with soft tannins.
- 1993 Oak Knoll Reserve: Purple-red color, medium density, earthy blackcherry and strawberry nose, rich taste with soft tannins and balanced acidity. Ready to drink now to 2001.
- 1993 Ponzi Reserve: Red tone with medium density. Red and black fruit smell and taste with good balance and long finish. Elegant classic style. Drink now to 2004.
- 1994 Brick House: Very dense purple tone with barnyard blackcherry nose and taste. An extremely concentrated wine harvested at very low yields (0.85 tons/acre). My favorite 1994. Talking owner Doug Tunnel out of a few bottles was no small feat. The wine was distributed in Washington.