Couldn't agree more about '07 Oregon pinot noir
In this month's guest column for Oregon Wine Press, Ken Collura provides a commentary on Oregon's 2007 Pinot Noirs. Collura argues in "Setting the Record Straight" that those criticizing this vintage are most likely seeking a different style of wine, more Syrah-like than a true Pinot. He goes on to describe the 2007 Oregon Pinot Noirs in terms of what they are not (e.g., huge, fat, overripe, etc.) versus what they are (e.g., bright, finesse-driven, food-friendly, etc.).
I could not agree more with Collura's assessment of the 2007 Oregon Pinot Noirs. Although I have yet to try as many '07s as Collura has sampled (75 for him; 50 for me), I wholeheartedly concur with his rhetorical question, "What's wrong with Pinot that looks, smells and tastes like Pinot?" Coming off of the hot, ripe 2006 vintage, it is not surprising to find some folks being downright dismissive of the understated, elegant 2007s.
As I argued in a previous post, pitting the 2007 vintage against 2006 is a false comparison. Like Collura suggests, the comparative analysis should be as to whether or not 2007 defines the Pinot Noir variety in a characteristic manner. I concur that 2007 is a more appropriate style for Pinot Noir than the vintage before it.
If I want a wine to embody the characteristics of a Syrah, then that is the bottle I will serve at my next meal. But if I want a Pinot Noir to complement my meal, then it better exhibit the smells, flavors, and even the look of a wine true to its nature. I emphasize the word, "complement", for like the professional sommilier Collura, wine should not smother or cover food, rather it should amplify and magnify what you are tasting.
Is this a matter of who's right or wrong? No, for at the end of the day it's a matter of taste. While I don't smother my meats with steak sauce/ketchup or fill my coffee cup with sugar/syrup, many folks do. To each his or her own in terms of how they enjoy their food. Like an unadorned steak (salt and pepper only please) or unsweetened coffee (splash of cream), I don't seek wines that have to take center stage when enjoying a meal, for I prefer those that help elevate the flavors of what's on my plate.
For those seeking food-friendly Oregon Pinot Noir, please see the following links to various rounds of reviews and recommendations. As always, I welcome your tasting experiences with these wines, regardless of whether or not your palate is in agreement with mine. Again, it's all subjective; but for those seeking Oregon Pinot Noir in a style more characteristic of its variety, the 2007s are a good starting point.