Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir 2014:

Translucent ruby color; strawberry, cherry nose; vivid flavors of strawberry, raspberry, black cherry, plum in light-medium mouth, sip of cola slides into the flavor profile, too;

polished, plush, ethereal; silky tannin, nice acidity, reserved oak helps knit everything together.

“Whole cluster” basically means grapes are not crushed so fermentation mostly happens inside the grape, creating very bright fresh fruit flavors. Wines made this way often are compared to Beaujolais, and there is a similarity, but this has more depth and complexity—although it is a straightforward pinot play. Simple, but with some depth: pinot always is perplexing.

Willamette Valley Vineyards owner Jim Bernau has been at it since 1983, making him one of the founding pioneers of Oregon wines. Willamette Valley Vineyards is one of the state’s largest operations—a large operation by Oregon standards. WVV is not a wine factory and WVV vineyard-specific and technique-specific offerings consistently deliver distinctive quality and value; they are not focus-group driven to fill a demographic niche on a supermarket shelf.

The winery also is environmentally responsible. Since 1997, WVV has been certified sustainable through LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology—the international standard for sustainable agriculture) and Salmon-Safe. In 2011, Salmon-Safe recognized Bernau with the first “Hero of Salmon” award for implementation of a high-impact Salmon-Safe “Sip-Save”campaign in print, retail, web, and vehicle wraps. Delicious wines, responsible winemaking. Nice. $19-22

Willamette Valley Vineyards website

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley Vineyards