Pale ruby color; cherry, blackcurrant, forest floor on the nose; black cherry, plum, fig, tart raspberry, spice on the palate.
Dry; tasty, subtle, polished tannins; balancing acidity (3.70 pH). Dark and muscular for an Oregon-Willamette Valley pinot noir; 13.6% ABV. All the grapes come from a 12-acre hill planted entirely in Pommard clone grapes. Pommard Clone 5 is noted for its ability to produce pure, dark fruits and also is known as a “stand alone” clone—which is the case with the Right Bank effort.
Medium body. Reserved oak notes. The wine was fermented 50% French oak and 50% stainless steel. It then aged 19 months in French oak. Pommard Clone is more closely associated with California pinot noirs, and this approaches Russian River Valley style rather than the more etherial, strawberry, pomegranate found in other Willamette Valley efforts, even others by Left Coast. Tart finish. Savory elements; assertive fruits rather than smooth easy drinker.
Suzanne and Robert Pfaff purchased bucolic acreage in 2003 with a vision of establishing a winery committed to quality, sustainable farming, and attention to producing wine that reflected the terroir of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Then they brought in lead viticulturist and general manager Luke McCollum from Napa Valley, then winemaker Joe Wright. It has worked out quite well.
In 2016, the Pfaff’s son, Taylor Pfaff, became CEO. He brought experience of six harvests and an MBA in Wine and Spirits from the Kedge Business School of the University of Bordeaux. Daughter Cali—for whom this Cali’s Cuveee Pinot Noir is named—is a licensed landscape architect who currently is involved in a master plan for the parks of Vancouver BC. Cali also is left-handed—three out of five Pfaff family members are left handed, which is part of the Left Coast story.
Daughter-in-law Christina Aragon (Taylor’s wife) holds a degree in human kinetics from the University of British Columbia and is earning her master’s in hydrology and watershed management at Portland State. She works as a lab technician at the winery and is involved in Left Coast’s oak savanna restoration and other restoration and preservation projects. A wine-focused, environmentally-focused, sustainable agriculture-focused family. Bravo, Left Coast.
With an estate of 350 acres, 150 acres under vine, Left Coast is one of the largest contiguous vineyards in the Willamette Valley. The cellar’s website notes: “There is not one terroir at Left Coast Cellars but many, allowing our wines to showcase multiple personalities of Willamette Valley wines, bound together through the thoughtful work of Luke McCollum in the vineyard and Joe Wright in the cellar. Left Coast Cellars is known for its cooler micro-climate, owing to its location at the head of the Van Duzer Corridor, an east-west valley that creates a break in the coast range of mountains that shields most of the Willamette Valley from the Pacific Ocean.”
The winery is LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon Safe certified. It participates in the Salud program that guarantees basic healthcare to seasonal field workers. The winery and vineyard are 90% solar powered, the second-largest agricultural solar operation in Oregon.
Left Coast Right Bank Pinot Noir 2015 is a hedonistic, dark fruit power play. Balanced, good complexity and structure. More assertive than you expect from a Willamette Valley. Interesting hint of tartness, especially on the finish. Pair with salmon, red meats, grilled vegetables. $36-42