The Castle Rock Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2014 is sourced from vineyards located in the Willamette Valley AVA of Oregon. The Willamette Valley is my favorite Pinot Noir region, I know I am supposed to think Burgundy in France is numero uno, but for me, it’s the Willamette Valley. Most of the wineries in the Willamette Valley are small production, boutique facilities and therefore the price of Oregon Pinot is rarely $10.99 (on sale). So how does Castle Rock price single premier AVA wines at a price point where most producers source grapes from multiple AVAs? First, they have long-term contracts with quality area vineyards (they have wines from 12 AVAs and 40 growers, not just Willamette Valley). Then, they rent excess space in local wineries (far cheaper than building and maintaining your own facility). And they have a winemaker whose wine career started in 1984 that oversees production from vineyard to bottled wine. These are the same grapes, from the same vineyards, produced in the same facilities as far more expensive wines. To top that off, Wine Spectator gave the 2014 vintage 89 points (the 2015 vintage got 88 points), there are plenty of Willamette Valley Pinots that sell for 3 times as much that did not score higher. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a see-thru garnet red. The nose is pretty cool, it has a mix of cherries, with mushroom, bacon fat, smoke, herbs and a little menthol. This is a silky, light to medium bodied wine with just enough interesting textures and flavors to hold your attention. It starts with black cherry, ground pepper, ripe plum, and exotic spice. The mid-palate adds sour, tart cherry, a little vanilla, and a late slap of ripe blueberry. The tannins are smooth and the acidity is nicely balanced, not as supremely balanced as some Burgundian Pinot Noir, but pretty solid. The finish is subtle and lengthy.
It is hard to do better for an everyday Pinot Noir than the Castle Rock Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2014. I like Willamette Valley Pinot, so this one hits the spot for me. I run into many value-priced Pinot’s (mainly from California) that are pretty good, considering the price. Maybe not as good as the more expensive wines, but well worth 10 bucks. The Castle Rock IS a real Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, no need for qualifiers here.