Tasting Notes: Planet Oregon Pinot Noir

This past weekend, Kevin and I made a trip to Edenton, North Carolina (close to the Outer Banks) for the wedding of Kevin's good friend. Edenton is a very picturesque and quaint town, but for about an hour or so before Edenton, there isn't much around. We were going to be in the middle of nowhere at dinnertime, so we did some TripAdvisor searches to see what was around at various stages in our trip. We came across this cute restaurant in Tarboro, North Carolina, called On the Square that had a great wine selection and yummy sounding dinner menu, so we decided to stop there. The owners of the restaurant have impressive resumes and are Advanced Sommeliers themselves, so it was a great hidden gem to come across! The sommelier on staff recommended this wine with our meals, so we went with it.

The Facts

  • Producer: Soter Vineyards
  • Region: Oregon; Majority in Willamette Valley
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Restaurant
  • Price: $20 retail
  • Eyes: The color of this wine was more toward a "masculine" Pinot Noir with deeper purple colors and a darker red than others. I was surprised by the deepness of the color and was relieved since I don't always enjoy Willamette Pinot Noirs.
     
  • Nose: The sommelier had described this wine as being fruit forward and having more cherry aspects than the earthiness that can come with Oregon Pinot. I found that to be true on the nose with definite aromas of cherry. There were also notes of blackberry and raspberry, which I love!
     
  • Mouth: The aromas that came through on the nose definitely showed up when I tried the wine. I picked up on the "cherry cola" flavor the sommelier mentioned and also picked up on the dark berries I caught in the aroma. I didn't get much earthiness, which was a relief since that's my preference. The wine was acidic, but not overly so.
     
  • Thoughts: This wine was a pretty good pick, but I would not say the sommelier hit it out of the park with what I described to her. I used words like "bold", "spice", and "bite" and she didn't really hit those notes. The wine lacked that spiciness or tannic aspect, but overall was fruity and a good pairing with the chicken. I liked the story behind the wine... The grapes are sourced from certified sustainable vineyards and are bottled in a certified  sustainable winery. Also, for every sale, $1 is donated to the Oregon Environmental Council which safeguards the health of those in Oregon by working for clean air, clean water, and healthy food. Overall, would I get it again? Probably not in a restaurant, but I wouldn't rule it out totally. Is it a good price point? Absolutely, $25 in a restaurant with retail at $20 is awesome. If you like Pinot Noirs with a little heft to them, but not too much, I think this is a great choice for you! 

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Note: I'd likely give this 2.5 bunches if I wanted to get technical. I wasn't wowed but it's definitely not a full on two bunches either. It was just a little too Oregon-y for my taste.

Tasting Notes: 14 Hands Stampede Red Blend

As you know, one effort of this blog is to taste wines that are widely and easily available. Now, I am a big fan of local wine shops because of their knowledgeable staff and carefully curated wine selections, and I love Total Wine because of their wide range of grape and region offerings and price ranges. But the bad news? There isn't always a wine shop or Total Wine around! Sometimes Harris Teeter or Kroger or Publix or whatever your local grocer may be is the best choice around. For that reason, I make it a point to purchase options from these places, and this choice was one of those selections.

The Facts

  • Producer: 14 Hands Winery
  • Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Red Blend - Syrah, Merlot, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre 
  • Where I purchased: Grocery store - Harris Teeter
  • Price: $11.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a deep red color with some purple in it. Definitely not as deep as a Syrah or even a Cab, which makes sense now considering Merlot and Viognier (a white grape) is included.

    As a sidenote, I was surprised that Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay) was included in the red blend, but after a quick search, I found that it is actually not uncommon. Viognier grows alongside Syrah in the Northern Rhone Valley in France and French wine laws allow the combination. Viognier is very aromatic (think peach, pear, and floral), so it is blended to give the other wine an aromatic boost. 
     
  • Nose: Despite the Viognier being in the blend, I would not say that this wine had those typical aromas. As expected, I picked up on the berry and cherry aromas, but I also got vanilla or a syrupy smell on the bouquet. It reminded me of the smell of a flat cup of Coke... heavy, a little sweet, and it kind of lingered.
     
  • Mouth: When I tasted this wine, I primarily tasted two things: berries (blackberry and cherry) and vanilla. There was a hint of spice, likely from the Syrah, but overall, the wine wasn't overly complicated. The wine bottle touts cedar, but to be honest with you, I still need to decipher what that smells and tastes like. I didn't pick up on anything overly "woodsy" but maybe that is also where the spice or bite comes from. I guess I need to go find some cedar to smell!
     
  • Thoughts: This wine was decent for a red blend at this price point. I listened to a podcast on the red blend trend from Wine For Normal People (you can listen to it here or check it out on iTunes), and Elizabeth mentioned how lower tier red blends tend to be what's left over versus an intentional blend (ex: Dave Phinney's Prisoner or Chappellet's Mountain Cuvee, which are both delicious). This causes the wine to be flat, lacking character of the grapes, and usually on the sweeter side. That was eye opening to me, and I definitely pick up on that in cheaper red blends. This wine had some of that, but I actually thought this one was better than most. The vanilla was a little strong in my opinion, but the hint of spice helped it be a step above others I've tried. Will this be a consistent purchase in our household? No. However, I know the 14 Hands brand is widely available, and this isn't a bad choice when my options are limited.

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Tasting Notes: Wild Oats Shiraz

The recovery process from a cold and bronchitis has been long, but I am back at it! I've had a good return to wine with this Australian Shiraz.

The Facts

  • Producer: Wild Oats by Oatley Family Wines
  • Region: Central Ranges of New South Wales (NSW), Australia
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Shiraz
  • Where I purchased: Harris Teeter. I hear it can be found at World Market, too.
  • Price: $13.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a very pretty color! It was a very deep red with some hint of purple. The wine was opaque, so paired with the fact that this is a Shiraz, I expect this wine to be full bodied and fruit forward.
     
  • Nose: This wine's aroma was very fruity, but not sweet smelling. I picked up on some blackberry and cassis (liqueur made from black currant berries). It also reminded me of chambord, the liqueur made from red and black raspberries. I also picked up on some spice notes, which is typical for the Syrah grape. The spices reminded me of what is referenced in the wine world as "baking spices", so think cinnamon, allspice, etc.  The aroma was very pleasant and definitely made me want to try it, which is always good!
     
  • Mouth: The wine had great flavor of ripe berries (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry) with notes of pepper. It had a great texture where it was smooth and easy to drink but had a little "bite" to it. I enjoy tannins, so this was a great addition. I didn't detect anything herbacious or earthy, which speaks to it being an Australian Shiraz as opposed to a Syrah from the Old World.
     
  • Thoughts: I really enjoyed this wine. It was a great bottle to open after being sick and will definitely be purchased again in our household! We had steak with some roasted vegetables and potatoes, and I thought it went wonderfully with that meal. It's fun to have something that can give depth and flavor without a huge price tag, so this was definitely a win! It's a screw top, which I am coming to love more and more for the convenience factor. I actually opened it, poured a glass, and let it sit for a few minutes by chance, and I think it really developed good flavor after opening up for a bit. However, if you don't like spicy wines, I would skip over this one.

    Wondering what the difference is between Syrah and Shiraz? There is none! It's the same grape variety that came from Europe and Australians simply call it Shiraz. If you'd like to learn more about New World Shiraz vs. Old World Syrah, check out this article by Wine Folly! 

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