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30 October 2005

Shallow Pinot

Have you ever sampled a wine that looked good, smelled good, but then didn't deliver the 'goods'?  I find it rare that I enjoy looking at and sniffing a wine, but then don't discover much to love about its in-the-mouth activities.  Sadly, this was my experience with Chehalem's Rion Reserve Pinot Noir...


The Skinny

Chehalem_rionresChehalem Rion Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 ($50)

  • From Oregon's Willamette Valley
  • Semi-opaque ruby in color with a light copper rim
  • Enticing scents of strawberry, eucalyptus, mushroom, and vanilla
  • In the mouth, Rion Reserve started out impressively with tart cherry and cocoa flavors.  However, in the mid-palette, the wine began to lose its grip.  It is a medium-bodied wine, but the tannins seemed light & sparse.  Then, sadly the wine was done.  Finished.  Now I'm not one to hope for Pinot Noir fruit bombs.  I enjoy delicate Oregon Pinot.  Yet the lack of acidity, structure, and complexity in this wine left me a bit disappointed (especially considering the fifty-buck price tag).

**.5 (2.5 stars out of 5)

In spite of the let down in my mouth, this Pinot was quite good with Ms. Juice's roasted duck and my grilled prawns.

I've not tasted other vintages of the Rion Reserve.  I would be curious if others have, and what their experience was.

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Comments

Mithrandir

I haven't tasting that particular wine, but I'm familiar with Chehalem, as I live within spitting distance. In general, their offerings disappoint me. Their Five Elements Pinot Noir is pretty good, but most of their other offerings seem rather ordinary and over priced. Chehalem is a name I try to avoid.

Just a little down the road from Chehalem are Oak Knoll and Ponzi, both of which are very solid. Oak Knoll is sort of a value-segment producer. They make a $12 Pinot Noir that deserves a much bigger price tag. Ponzi is a big, well-known producer of the usual northern Willamette varietals.

The contrast between the three is interesting, given their physical proximity.

beau

I'm glad you voiced your opinion on Chehalem. I was wondering if I was being too tough on the wine. But, at $50, I think all wine lovers would expect more.

I've enjoyed Ponzi very much in the past, and I plan to do a mini Ponzi tasting (with all 2 of their Pinots that my wine shop carries) in the near future.

I've not seen Oak Knoll wines locally, but the next time I'm out and about, I'll see if I can find some.

Dan B.

Oops, Mithrandir is talking about Cooper Mountain if they're taking about "Five Elements". Wonder if the whole comment "Chehalem is a name I try to avoid" is actually attributed to Cooper Mtn??

Beau, grab a 2002 Chehalem Reserve Pinot Noir sometime (they dropped the Rion name after 2001 vintage). A world of difference and IMHO a benchmark for Oregon PN.

beau

Good point Dan. I'll ask Mirthrandir if that's indeed what he meant. And, I'll see if I can't rustle up and '02 Chehalem Reserve.
cheers, beau

Mithrandir

Ack! That is indeed what I meant. Too many hills that style themselves as mountains with C-names and vineyards!

As penance, I'll have to make sure to visit Chehalem the next time I'm out tasting.

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