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?
This was literally a case of, “Do you want a red or white wine with dinner tonight?” The fact of the matter was the meal could have easily paired with either. So, I thought, heck, why not try this (for me) experimental blend I just received in my latest allocation of Panther Creek new releases. It’s a cool concept: Take off the skins of the red wine grape and ferment it like a white and then, blend it with another white. No reason it shouldn’t work…
Biodynamic wine anyone? Honestly, you may be sipping on more biodynamically farmed and made wines than you realize, as many who do don’t necessarily advertise it. (Hello, Tablas Creek.) Anywho, that’s not actually why I gravitated to this wine—it was the fact that Troon is consistently in pursuit of planting with vineyard specificity, replanting and grafting new vines appropriate to their Applegate Valley estate. Thus, more Rhone varieties are being planted, Rhone-style wines being made. This is the first release of this white blend, made in partnership with fellow biodynamic farmers and winemakers, Barbara and Bill Steele of Cowhorn Vineyard.
Another Panther Creek Pinot Noir? Yes please. Because each vineyard is remarkably different. Here’s what the Lazy River Vineyard has to say. (Hint: It’s not lazy with flavor or texture…)
About the Wine: The Panther Creek 2016 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from Lazy River Vineyards, located in the Eloa-Amity Hills AVA, located in the greater Willamette AVA in Oregon.
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Panther Creek 2016 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir, and breathe in fresh damp soil, herbs like basil, a bit of damp oak wood bark, hints of chocolate, and boysenberries — fully plump, ripe, with their vegetation attached, fallen to the ground, mushed into that fertile earth.
This Pinot Noir is very royal in its maroon-shade. Like velvet — the velvet cape that belongs on a queen. In the glass: Yes, deep, rich maroon, fading out to a light rouge color, but the wine is penetrable from core to perimeter.
Initial aromas are of rich bush berries: raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, wild strawberries, and you can already sense the acidity that means these berries are fresh and fully alive. Swirl and release some of that herbaceousness — perhaps a bit of eucalyptus or spearmint (not so much basil as before). If you dive deep you can find some of those more decadent, richer notes, like cacao, maybe some vanilla, and just a dash of cinnamon. But the brightness of the fruits are definitely the dominant trait.
The palate is soft, yet textural, with a touch of tannins just gently tickling the tongue and an acidity that truly drives the force of this wine. Dominant flavors are certainly of those fresh bush berries: blackberries, boysenberries, even those wild strawberries. I would add here a bit of just under-ripe red plum as well — that tartness, sourness that comes with the vibrancy of the young fruit. Let the wine linger and you can taste a kiss of oak and, again, those kind of eucalyptus-like sensations come through. The finish is a long one, as the tongue continues to tingle, yet those tannins add a solidity, a finality as they, too, coat the tongue, yet do so with a grace and an elegance that is neither cloying nor drying. It is, instead, intriguing and invites another sip.
Food Pairing: I paired the Panther Creek 2016 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir with, well, a pizza. As we know, my theory is that you can’t go wrong with a pizza and Pinot pairing. One of the reasons I like to do this is also because it levels the playing field, especially when comparing multiple vineyards from the same producer, to have a common comparison. Also, pizza has a bit of every food group attached to it, encompassing a well-rounded variety of flavors and textures.
So what I learned from this pairing is that the Pinot Noir from Lazy River Vineyard, with its dual vibrant acidity and confident tannins structure is that it is best paired with something that is creamy (maybe cheesy) with some earthiness attached to it. Were I to cater a meal specific to this wine, I would go with a mushroom and truffle risotto, seasoned with fresh thyme and rosemary. Yes, indeed.
More Info: I received the Panther Creek 2016 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir. (Cheers Madelaine!) Price: $45. For more information about Panther Creek, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Panther Creek Cellars website.
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**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**