I'm glad to see Oregon producers are working hard to craft beautiful Pinot Noirs that retail under the $20 price point. This year, some wonderful new discoveries such as Klee, Roots and Domaine Coteu have set the bar for QPR wines, joining established benchmarks like Willamette Valley Vineyards or A to Z. Oregon Pinot Noirs at higher price points have shown consistent quality, and how incredible the Pinot Noir grape can be. But the lower price point Pinots have been elusive.
Tonight's selection of Left Coast Cellars comes from Rickreall, Oregon. Left Coast is doing some great work around sustainable farming and "green" wine making. In 2008, Left Coast Cellars installed large solar panels arrays, thanks to a large USDA grant for renewable energy.
The 2004 Left Coast Cellars Cali's Cuvee is estate grown and bottled. The nose is pretty muted, not only upon opening the bottle, but after 30 minutes I'm not getting much fruit aromas on the nose. It has more of a rubbing alcohol scent with faint dried cherries. On the palate, I'm still not getting much fruit-It has more of a soapy finish. Pinot can be a beautiful expression of the soil the vines are growing in. Even at the $20 price point, there should be some semblance of fruit. I'm searching for nuances and getting some faint vanilla notes from the oak and hints of tangerine. Not sure how old the vines were when this was produced, but compared to some of the other $20 Oregon Pinots I've had this year, I'd probably try this again in a few years to see if it was young needing more cellar time. Sometimes wines can be in a "dumb" stage of evolution. Not sure if that's the case here, but I'm always willing to come back to revisit. Right now, the 14% alcohol seems to be a bit out of balance either from picking the grapes too late or by not using the right barrel program. Hit me back if you've had different Left Coast Cellars vintages with your thoughts. Cheers!