Hamacher Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014

Medium ruby color; cherry, plum, whiff of cedar on the nose; cherry, plum, black cherry, raspberry, red fruits, minerality, red licorice on the palate.

Hamacher Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014

Dry; medium body, rich texture for an Oregon pinot. Silky but firm tannins; good acidity (3.6 pH) that contributes to minerality notes. Well played oak influence thanks to 18 month in French wood, 30% new. Another impressive Hamacher effort, this was built for aging and seemed a tad harsh/closed-up on the pop-and-pour. But, wait there is a solution.

Naturally, as faithful readers know, I decanted after first swirls and sips, and decanting revealed nuances, depth, and complexity. A tasty illusion of sweetness presented on a long finish, thanks to ripe fruits. Hamacher has an entry-level label—“H” that sells for around $25. This effort is Hamacher’s step up at roughly twice the price. It also evidence of Hamacher’s commitment to quality Willamette pinot noir.

Pinot noir is superb food wine, and Hamacher’s reserved approach to alcohol—this is 13.6% ABV—enhances its food friendliness. When alcohol soars well past 14.5%, then the wine demands to be the star of the meal and the food becomes a bit player. You will not have that issue with this tasty, well constructed Hamacher effort.

Eric Hamacher

Eric Hamacher started out on a career path to become a doctor but switched to making wine after working a wine harvest. He attended University of California Davis and earned a degree in viticulture and enology in 1988. Over the next seven years he gained experience at various wineries including Mondavi, Chalone and Etude, finally ending up in Oregon in 1995.

Eric and his wife, Luisa Ponzi, started Hamacher Wines in 1995. Eric was the driving force behind the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, a “green” LEED-registered cooperative winemaking facility that opened in 2002 and is now home to as many as twelve different wineries. Eric and Luisa spent several years lobbying to change the Oregon law that prohibited multiple winery licensing in one facility. The 15,000-square-foot gravity flow winery is a partnership between Eric and his wife Luisa Ponzi, winemaker at Ponzi Vineyards, and Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin of Lumpkin Construction in Seattle and Lazy River Vineyard in Yamhill, Oregon.

Hamacher Wines produces about 2,000 cases a year, the Hamacher website boasts: “possible Oregon’s slowest growing winery!” He also is the winemaker for Ghost Hill Cellars and is a consulting winemaker for several other brands. The website claims: “With his focus and dedication to old vines and small lots and due to his uncompromising commitment to quality, Eric Hamacher has become one of the most respected and sought-after wine producers in the region.”

Hamacher Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014 is elegant, sophisticated effort, especially after decanting. Still young after five years, this is a bottle you can put down for another five years or more, but I didn’t have that patience. Excellent, delicious fruit becomes better the longer it swirls in your big glass. Decant to get the most out of this beauty. Pair with all the usual pinot noir suspects—salmon, turkey, roasted chicken. With its tannins, this will work with duck, game birds, casseroles, stews such as beef bourguignon. Gruyere cheese is classic pinot pairing. $39-50

Hamacher Wines website

Hamacher Wines vineyard
Hamacher harvest
Founder and winemaker Eric Hamacher at work
Luisa Ponzi tasting pinot