My latest shipment from Panther Creek Cellars came with single-vineyard Pinot Noir from each of the winery’s estate vineyards. Super fun. I had the chance to compare the vineyards last year, so was so pleased to get to experience the 2017 release this year. The new kid on the block: Maverick Vineyard. In fact, this vineyard, located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon was only planted seven years ago, in 2013. For those of you unfamiliar with a vine’s growth cycle, typically the first three years of a vine’s life does not produce any fruit (or at least not enough or enough quality fruit to make wine). So, I imagine, 2017 was really the first harvest that yielded enough fruit to make enough sellable wine. And even then, only 150 cases were produced. So, how did the new kid fare?
About the Wine: Panther Creek Cellars 2017 Maverick Vineyard Pinot Noir, Dijon clone (943)
150 cases produced
Appearance: Breaking the rules here and saying that this Pinot Noir is somewhere in between a pale and medium ruby. While you can clearly see through the wine at its very core, there’s a depth of ruby red that I just can’t justify as 100 percent pale.
Aroma: Initial aromas are youthful with medium (+) intensity. Aromas include red cherry, anise, blackberry, cedar, eucalyptus, smoke or toast, bramble, and just a hint of chocolate or coffee (mocha?)
Palate: The palate is dry with high acidity, medium level of alcohol, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (-) overall body. Flavor is medium (+) in intensity and includes those aromas listed above, but with more intense anise notes and more intense black fruit than red fruits than initial expected based on the nose. The cherry presents as black cherry, and the blackberry and bramble notes come forward more assertively. As does that chocolate/coffee/mocha note that, together with the black fruits almost has a kind of cola quality to it.
The finish is long, with the black fruits, cola, and mocha lingering for an exceptional amount of time.
Conclusion: I teetered here, and am still teetering as I reminisce about this wine. Even using the WSET criteria. So, I’ll cheat and give a spectrum once again and say that this wine is good to very good. One could argue that the intensity of the acid and the lack of tannin (and thus body) does give the wine a bit of a thinness. With this slight imbalance, I found that the wine was more enjoyable with food (see notes below). The fruits, though present, were not as voluptuous as maybe one would have expected. But, that being, said, I believe that, as a consumer, this wine has a time and place. I would not say it’s suitable for extended aging. The lack of depth does not lend itself to cellaring, although a bit more complexity may come out within a year or two, again I have to point to the tannin level and say that this is a wine most suitable to drink now.
Food Pairing: I paired the Panther Creek Cellars 2017 Maverick Vineyard Pinot Noir with a seared salmon served with a strawberry and herb salad. What I loved was the salmon with the wine. The innate oilyness of the fish actually helped round out the mouthfeel of the wine, making it feel fuller and those fruits more voluptuous. What I struggled with was the strawberry, as the strawberries themselves were quite acidic and didn’t lend itself to the lighter body and higher acid of the wine. BUT I also had some sugar bomb tomatoes in the mix and those with a slice of crusty bread and a sip of wine definitely worked out. So, I recommend pairing this wine with an overall “lighter dish,” like a salad with a protein, and just make sure that you’ve got some fat and and smoother textures to help round out the wine. Hope that makes sense…
More Info: I received the Panther Creek Cellars 2017 Maverick Vineyard Pinot Noir as a sample for review (Cheers!). Suggested Retail: $45. For more information about Panther Creek, their wine, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Panther Creek Cellars website.
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