The Erath Oregon Pinot Noir 2016 is sourced from vineyards all over Oregon, the Willamette Valley AVA is the one that everyone knows, but there is also the Rogue Valley AVA and the Umpqua Valley AVA. Erath Winery is one of the Chateau Ste Michelle family of wines and this is their “Taste of Oregon” Pinot Noir, they produce several different Pinots including high-end single vineyard Pinot Noir. The stated goal for this wine is “to make the best Pinot Noir in the world for under $20” and they just may have pulled it off since both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator awarded this sub-$20 Pinot, 90 points. For me giving a wine a point score is essential if you are purchasing a $150+ wine and want to insure you are buying one of the elite wines, for under $20 value priced wines points don’t mean as much. But, both those publications have well-respected, talented critics and while their palates may not been in tune with yours or mine, they do know how to identify quality in the vineyard and in the winemaking. So a good score for a value wine does indicate top quality, if the wine appeals to you or not is another story. The 2016 growing season in Oregon was cool and long, just what Pinot Noir grapes need to excel. 20% for this wine was aged in new French oak, they didn’t specify if it was oak barrels or other means to impart oak seasoning. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is clear, see-thru garnet red. The nose is delicate and complicated, herbs, cherry, mushroom, baking spices, black pepper, raspberry, and a whiff of dark chocolate. This is a light to medium-bodied wine, the flavor profile starts off soft, then builds, very cool. It tastes of ripe cherry, a slap of pepper, some not sweet cola, candy spice, and herbs. The mid-palate shows tart cranberry with cream, orange zest, a quick hit of milk chocolate, and smooth plum. The tannins are sweet, you sense them, but there is no bite. The acidity is solid, you don’t get these many flavors unfolding in a sip of wine without well-balanced acidity acting as a backbone. The finish engages you palate and then slowing fades away.
The Erath Oregon Pinot Noir 2016 is an excellent Pinot Noir, no need for a “for the price” qualifier. It has flavor galore, it has structure that holds the wine together, but also stays out-of-the-way of you’re sipping pleasure. I used to say that the Willamette Valley AVA produced my favorite Pinot Noirs, but I think from now on I will simply say my favorite Pinot Noir comes from Oregon.