A Drink A Day: 2012 Trousse-Chemise Pinot Noir
As a writer you often hear “write what you know. Write about what you love or have a passion for”. Today, I am taking that advice and sharing a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. If I have had a conversation with you about wine for more than three minutes, I have most likely mentioned I have a deep, long standing crush on the wines of the Willamette Valley. The Pinot’s (both Noir and Blanc) that have been produced there over the last ten years are some of the most beautiful, delicate, approachable and fairly priced wines in the North American market today. Their Rieslings and Sauvignon Blanc’s are pretty damn fine too.
One of the main reasons for this is that the region. Many people who are fans of the region are quick to draw a comparison to Burgundy. I used to be one of them, but the more I look into it, the more it fells almost an unfair comparison. Not that its bad to be compared to Burgundy, but there is enough amazing, unique things happening there that they deserve recognition of their own. To be fair, there are some pretty serious similarities. They are about the same latitude and soil content, and elevation. However the slightly warmer summers in the Willamette Valley usually bring out a bit more of the fruit flavors of Strawberry and Red Cherry that have become an almost calling card for Oregonians Pinots. The even warmer summers further south in California, bring out even more fruit flavors in many wines. That is the number one reason many people say that California wines are so “Fruit Forward” as the warmth of summer brings those fruity notes out in a wine, which tend to overpower the minerality and finer points that can come from the wine making process.
Ok, now that you have a bit of a background, lets get back to this kick ass wine that has a great story. The maker of this wine, Anne Sery Martindale, grew up on the island of Rèunion. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with it. It is an obscure island about 500 miles off the coast of Madagascar. Her parents were diplomats and loved to drink fine Burgundy wine (coincidently and almost similar upbringing to Joe Strummer from the Clash). She ended up studying at the Facultè de Bordeaux, afterward relocating to the Willamette Valley where she continued to study and has gone on to be a winemaker at another regional company. One of the great perks of this job is having an open door to some of the most prized and kick ass grapes from the Willamette before anyone else can lay their paws on them. We are talking about vineyards such as Hyland, Gran Moraine, and Zena Crown. Basically, that’s like owning your own music label and having Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, or Frank Zappa offer you their music before anyone else even hears it. So yeah, its pretty amazing. So with such access, she did what any aspiring wine maker would do, and started to make their own small batch wines.
The first thing you notice when you pour this is how dark, ruby like this wine is. Not because the color is off, it is just darker then what most think of when they think of Pinot Noir. The nose is also not what one would think of when you think West Coast American Pinot Noir. While it does show you fresh wild cherries right out of the gate, it also has some citrus, cinnamon, and fennel (which honestly was a big surprise). As this bottle opened up, it showed so much more depth and complexity. This is not a wine to drink fast and recklessly. You will miss out on a ton of things if you do. Not only in the nose, but also in the weight (A fuller and rich texture, for a Pinot Noir at least) as it develops.
The palate on this wine is one of the most giving I have had from the Willamette. It did have black fruit and red fruit flavors as well as that distinct cola flavor of well made Oregonian wine. Usually when you see cola as a plate description, it is a combined result of citrus, cinnamon, and vanilla. Two of which we saw on the nose so it made sense to taste on the back end of this wine. All of those elements are combined into this smooth, precise, and elegant wine that has a finish that seems to last for hours. Buy it, drink it, and enjoy it. Maybe throw a few in the basement for 2019 but that’s about as long as I would hold this in the collection.