Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One for the Road: This Pat Green's Not from Texas

On a recent trip to Oregon, my wife Lindsay and I visited Patricia Green Cellars. The winery is located outside of Newberg and is tucked away off of a dirt road on a beautiful hillside. No sign marks the winery is there and they work off of appointments. When you get there you will be amazed by their tasting room and gift shop. Not really. They don't have one. But they do make kick ass Burgundian-style Pinot Noirs. 

I wasn't even sure we were at the right place until we walked into the cellar and saw the PGC logo on a box on the floor. Then this dog came charging at us at full speed barking like crazy, only stopping when he got right up to us, where he sat down and patiently waited for some lovin'.  We found out later that this Korgy-Border Collie is none other than Chompers the 'guard' dog. 

As we walked a little further into the facility we saw a guy dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans talking to a few people over a small wooden table covered in wine bottles and wine glasses.
He was friendly enough and greeted us warmly. We told him we had set up an appointment and that we had come all the way from Texas to taste all Patricia Green Cellars had to offer. He pointed to the rack of glasses and and started talking about the history of Patricia Green Cellars. 

It turns out that he is Jim Anderson, Patricia Green's partner of 14 years. They met while both working in wine sales for different companies and struck a lasting friendship. 

Now they make killer award-winning Pinot Noir and produce two Sauvignon Blancs. Their approach is truly Burgundian; on all 15 of their Pinot Noirs, the vineyards from which the grapes originate are more prominent on the labels than the PGC logo. They have several Pinot Noirs that are from estate grown vineyards that they own, while several Pinot Noirs come from vineyards that they oversee. 

They make some really amazing wine and Patricia and Jim are truly hands-on people. They work the fields, make the wine and run all facets of the business. 

After Jim let us try all of their current wines in production, he let us try some barrel samples using a wine thief. 

I was very surprised by the barrel samples. They were already quite drinkable, showing nice fruit and smooth, mouth-filling tannins. It was really interesting how each barrel sample from each vintage was a truly different tasting experience. 

Patricia and Jim explained to us that they use grapes from vineyards that are miles apart, which, in the Willamette Valley, means the grapes come from different micro climates and are grown in soil that varies depending upon location in the valley. While they use the exact same methods to make their different Pinots, they ultimately let the grapes' terroir speak for itself, resulting in Pinots that have their own unique identity. 

Case in point: they did a little experiment and made and a Pinot Noir using grapes from Sonoma, California. Interesting, right? Jim didn't tell us we were tasting the Sonoma Pinot Noir to see if we noticed. Both Lindsay and I mentioned that it was very different from the 13 or 14 other Pinot Noirs we had already tasted. Of course, once Jim let us in on the California secret, it made perfect sense. The Sonoma Pinot had a nose and finish that was reminiscent of tomato juice and rootbeer. I kid you not. 

Some Patricia Green Cellar wines that you must try are:

2007 Pinot Noir Notorious ($70)
This is a vivid red with powerful bouquet of berries and dark fruit, rose petals,vanilla and spices. Tasting the wine reveals raspberry and blackberry flavors that have hints of floral and cola. This is a well-structured wine with smooth tannins and lingering notes of berries and floral spice. It is extremly balanced and is the only wine that has been exposed to 100% new oak barrels.

2007 Pinot Noir Croft Vineyards ($30)
Bright red color with a nose that is a blend of cherry and red berries. The bouquet is also complemented with nice notes of licorice and violets. Tasting this fine Pinot you will notice cherry skin flavors, minerality and silky tannins.

2007 Pinot Noir Estate Vineyards ($36)
This is their second largest production wine with 1900 cases produced. It displays medium red color and has a nose that is earthy with hints of floral and cherry. This wine is a powerhouse, displaying dusty tannins with layers of spice and cherry skins.

Patricia Green Cellars
15225 NE North Valley Road
Newberg, Oregon 97132
*Be sure to check out their website – it's hilarious.

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