Wine of the week: Argyle 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

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This Week's Blind Tasting: Savvy Pinot Noirs

TOP PICK

Argyle

Argyle, 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9% alcohol, $27. ★★★★

A savory pinot noir with gorgeous high-toned cherry fruit on the mid-palate. Meaty, with herbs and spices in the mix. Tangy fruit and a hint of caramel on the finish. A steal for this caliber of pinot.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Emeritus Vineyards, 2016 Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9%, $44 ★★★★: An impressive pinot with bright red fruit –– cherry and cranberry –– racing through it. Buoyed by crisp acidity. Lingering finish. Smart.

Goldeneye, 2016 Ten Degrees, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $125. ★★★★1/2: A lush pinot that’s complex. Notes of cherry, red plum, white pepper and caramel. Seamless texture. Nice length. Striking.

Halleck Vineyard, 2016 Clone 828 Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.2%, $65. ★★★★1/2: This is a well-crafted pinot with depth. It’s complex, with notes of cranberry, pomegranate, mineral and herbs. Supple texture. Impressive.

Scott, 2017 Estate, Arroyo Seco, Monterey Pinot Noir, 14.7%, $22. ★★★1/2: A pretty pinot with aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry, toast and toffee. Ripe tannins. Lively, with bright acidity. Elegant.

Boutique winemaking conjures up images of family-owned wineries, small vineyards and artisan bottlings.

At Argyle in Oregon, the winery offers a unique glimpse of boutique winemaking with a complex puzzle of 400 1.5-ton fermenters, each doing its magic to transform small lots of grapes into wine.

“We continue to ferment this way because it allows us to keep all of our blocks fermented separately and allows for gentle, silky extraction,” explains winemaker Nate Klostermann. “Having that many small fermenters allows us to experiment with all sorts of percentages of whole cluster as well, creating underlying complexity and freshness.”

Klostermann is behind our wine-of-the-week winner –– the Argyle 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir at $27. It’s a savory pinot noir with gorgeous high-toned cherry fruit on the mid-palate. This pinot is meaty, with herbs and spices in the mix. It has tangy fruit and a hint of caramel on the finish. It’s a steal for this caliber of pinot.

“Stylistically, we are aiming for pinot noir with delicacy, silky texture, vibrant acidity and ageability,” Klostermann said. “The fruit profile can range based on the vintage, moving between red and floral into dark and spicy, but often some combination of all of these.”

Pinot noir, known as the finicky grape, is complicated to produce when it comes to the pick, according to Klostermann.

“Since 2014, as the growing seasons have gotten warmer and dryer, the biggest challenge has been getting all of the pinot noir picked in a much more condensed window of ripeness, to maintain that balance of freshness and depth,” the winemaker explained.

Klostermann, 37, is a Midwesterner who studied at the University of Minnesota, graduating with a degree in food science in 2005. He joined Argyle as a harvest intern in 2005, working his way up to winemaker in 2013.

Fascinated with fermentation while in college, Klostermann began his odyssey with food, beer and then ultimately, with wine.

“I got a taste of winemaking in Minnesota, but I knew I had to move out West to do it seriously,” he said. “I got lucky and landed a harvest internship with Argyle and had the opportunity to work in both the cellar and laboratory. A three-month internship turned into a full-time gig, and I fell in love with the combination of creativity and science while getting a boots-on-the-ground grad schooling from our founding winemaker, Rollin Soles.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This Week's Blind Tasting: Savvy Pinot Noirs

TOP PICK

Argyle

Argyle, 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9% alcohol, $27. ★★★★

A savory pinot noir with gorgeous high-toned cherry fruit on the mid-palate. Meaty, with herbs and spices in the mix. Tangy fruit and a hint of caramel on the finish. A steal for this caliber of pinot.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Emeritus Vineyards, 2016 Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 13.9%, $44 ★★★★: An impressive pinot with bright red fruit –– cherry and cranberry –– racing through it. Buoyed by crisp acidity. Lingering finish. Smart.

Goldeneye, 2016 Ten Degrees, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $125. ★★★★1/2: A lush pinot that’s complex. Notes of cherry, red plum, white pepper and caramel. Seamless texture. Nice length. Striking.

Halleck Vineyard, 2016 Clone 828 Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.2%, $65. ★★★★1/2: This is a well-crafted pinot with depth. It’s complex, with notes of cranberry, pomegranate, mineral and herbs. Supple texture. Impressive.

Scott, 2017 Estate, Arroyo Seco, Monterey Pinot Noir, 14.7%, $22. ★★★1/2: A pretty pinot with aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry, toast and toffee. Ripe tannins. Lively, with bright acidity. Elegant.

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