I’m taking a brief detour from my tour of Panther Creek’s estate Pinot Noir vineyards. (If you haven’t followed along thus far, do take a look at these: Maverick, Kalita, and Lazy River. And don’t forget the oh-so-fun Pinot Noir-Chardonnay white wine blend. [know, right?]) No, today I’m featuring their estate Chardonnay—a Chardonnay actually worth drinking. I have a hard time with Chardonnay: it can be bland and boring, or completely unbalanced with all the winemaking things you can do to it. Ah, but here we have subtle simplicity holding hands with a solid structure. Drink it on its own, drink it with food, but either way drink and enjoy.
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.
BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!
**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.**
Are you following along on my exploration of the Willamette Valley via Panther Creek Cellars? If not, check out these single-vineyard offerings from Kalita, Schindler, and De Ponte vineyards. (And why not take a peek at their Chardonnay and Pinot Gris for a few Willamette Valley white wine options?) Next stop: Carter Vineyards…
Today we’re taking a venture over to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the greater Willamette Valley, Oregon. Another beautiful Pinot Noir from Panther Creek and—sorry, no—this one does not come with a slice of pizza. (Though, it totally could.)
I am on a Chardonnay kick. Wait. Let me edit that. I am on a QUALITY Chardonnay kick. As in, recently, I threw out 3 bottles of Chardonnay after the first sip because they are still adhering to the old-new world expression: over-oaked, buttery spread. But trends are changing: everything that’s old is new again and that goes for the “Chablis-style” Chardonnay. I recently attended a panel discussion of winemakers making wine in this style (please read The Chardonnay Style Spectrum) and I am so pleased that the industry is headed this direction. And much of this is headed by the Oregon wine industry. Chardonnay may be the most widely planted white wine grape in California, but it is creeping up the Oregon ladder (currently still behind Pinot Gris) — and these guys are doing it right. Case and point: Panther Creek Cellars.