Fullerton Three Otters Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016

Pale ruby color; cherry, blackberry, dried herbs on the nose; cherry, raspberry, blackberry on the palate.

Fullerton Three Otters Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016

Dry (5 g/L RS); average acidity (3.75 pH). Soft, very smooth, very little oak—75% fermentation in stainless steel, remainder in neutral French oak; 100% pinot noir grapes. Light in the mouth; firm tannins assert themselves mid-palate, but are not harsh or grainy; some earthiness. Straightforward, relatively simple, nice example of Willamette Valley pinot lightness for the price. Plenty of fruit flavors continue in mid-palate and finish. This is Fullerton’s entry level pour.

The winery started in 2012 by Eric and Susanne Fullerton; their son Alex Fullerton is the winemaker today. They specialize in pinot noir and chardonnay, the great grapes of the Willamette Valley, sourced from their estate Ivy Slope vineyard as well as fruit from other vineyard partners. Viticulture is organic, biodynamic, and sustainable. The winery’s entire production is modest 4,500 cases. This bottle production was 650 cases.

Fullerton family–Eric, Susanne, Filip, Alex, Caroline

Eric was introduced to wine when he worked as a cellar hand in Germany. Eric and Suzanne met in Stockholm—where Eric’s Jewish family had escaped to during WW II (visit the Fullerton website to get more of the story). Alex graduated from the University of Oregon in 2010, at about same time Eric and Susanne began to seriously consider going into the wine business. The business started in the family garage in 2012 with a few barrels of pinot noir made with a family friend. The next year, Fullerton Winery was born. Meanwhile, Alex followed the family interest in wine after graduation, working for Penner-Ash Wine Cellers in Oregon, Dryland Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Bergström Wines in Oregon before joining the family business.

Winemaker Alex Fullerton

The Willamette Valley in western Oregon is one of the nation’s most important non-California AVAs. The valley stretches for 120 miles eastward from Portland and covers some 3.3 million acres. Pinot noir and chardonnay are the principal grapes.

Fullerton Three Otters Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016 is fruit-forward, enjoyably light, very easy drinker that will not challenge you with acidity or tannins. Good entry-level wine for those just getting into red wines; also entry-level price. You can drink much more sophisticated, complex, and etherial Willamette pinots, but you will pay two or three times as much for the privilege of doing so. This also grows on you the more you sip, so consider decanting, which I did not do (that may surprise longtime followers of my tasting notes). As you would expect from a pinot noir, this will pair with wide range of foods. I would tack toward lighter fare: roast turkey, roast chicken, maple-glazed chicken breasts with mustard jus, fennel-garlic pork roast, salmon, sea bass, stuffed eggplant with lamb and pine nuts, vegan enchiladas, bruschetta, whole wheat rigatoni with roasted vegetables. $18-20

Fullteron Wines website

Fullerton’s Ivy Slope vineyard
Alex Fullerton gives tour of Lichtenwalter Family Vineyard
Susanne Fullerton (l), Alex Fullerton (c) during winemaking
Fullerton Wines tasting room