Every summer I pack up the car and take my family on a road trip because that’s the way we roll. My kids and I have an agreement: in even-numbered years we throw one of each of their friends into the car with us and stay in an old log cabin beside Dutch Lake in Clearwater. In odd-numbered years I get to choose our destination, and they have to tough it out with only their old mother and each other for company. I like to change it up and I have yet to choose the same destination twice.
This year our trip was to the Oregon Coast. Why? Because I had heard that it is beautiful. As a person who has been to the west coast of Vancouver Island numerous, numerous times (and would go again in a heartbeat… though preferably to a yet-undiscovered destination) and Haida Gwaii once (and have been longing to return ever since), the Oregon Coast was a definite temptation for me. Ocean, beaches, nature… yes please! My children, however, were puzzled. Yet, being the lovely and cooperative people they have so far proven themselves to be, they wondered only amongst themselves as to why their mother would choose to go somewhere so untried. Finally, after observing my week-long Snoopy Dance around the house because I had booked us a little cabin on the beach, my son asked me, ‘Mom, why are we going to the Oregon Coast?’ Then my daughter chimed in, ‘Yeah, I don’t get it… why are we going to the Oregon Coast?’ I momentarily stopped my gleeful cavorting and leveled my gaze at the pair of them. I haughtily replied, ‘Because it is beautiful!’
Oh, and it is! I had found a little group of cabins right beside the ocean in a town called Oceanside (how fitting), and that turned out to be the headquarters for my Great Oregon Pinot Noir Experience. It’s funny. I went to the Safeway in Tillamook determined to buy three bottles of Pinot Noir. For those of you who don’t know about this miracle, grocery stores in the United States actually sell wine. I intended to consume one of these bottles while at our cabin beside the ocean and the other two were supposed to come home with me. Um… let’s just say that Oregon wineries make incredibly delicious Pinot Noir… and that somehow it happened that there were no bottles remaining to take back with me from that Safeway in Tillamook, when I was ready to re-enter Canada. I am chagrined. The worst part is that I don’t even exactly remember what the bottles of wine were because I was so busy just glorying in their silky appeal. The only in-depth analysis that happened in those five days was possibly a starry eyed utterance of mmmm….
So if I were to talk to you about the Pinot Noirs I experienced I would tell you about them like this: all three of the bottles I bought in Tillamook were from Oregon’s Willamette Valley which is a long, narrow strip of land along the Willamette River running south from Portland all the way to Eugene. The preface to my discourse is this: the Willamette Valley is best known for its Pinot Noir and every winery there (to the best of my knowledge) focuses on this varietal. The wines I had were all very similar to each other, which is what I expected since they are all from roughly the same area. They can best be described as ‘bright’. By this I mean they were light to medium bodied with lots of fresh fruit flavours reminiscent of red cherries, red currants, and strawberries. They were low in tannins and had appropriate acidity to enhance their fruit, with just the merest suggestion of spice, pepper, and earthiness to play a minor, supportive role.
Thanks to the magic of my iPhone4 and the internet, I know for sure that I savoured a bottle of 2009 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir, and I am pretty sure the other two Pinot Noirs were from Panther Creek Cellars and Erath Winery. I am also almost certain that those bottles were 2009 vintages. Another certainty is that we stopped at the Safeway in Tacoma on the way home so that I could buy two more bottles of Pinot Noir to take back across the border with me. One of those has since disappeared and I sincerely cannot recollect its origin. The final bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a 2009 Duck Pond Cellars which is precariously resting in its temporary home: the wine rack in my foyer which is situated far too close to my eager corkscrew!