Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Expensive Disappointment

I don't often write about wines that I find disappointing. With so much good wine to review, and only so much time, I would rather focus on the great finds that you can make in your local wine store, rather than listing all the wines that I'm less thrilled with once I've opened them. I also do a fair amount of research and go to a lot of tastings, so I'm less likely to wander too far away from wines that I have a reasonable expectation of liking.

There are times when I pop the cork only to discover that the wine inside the bottle doesn't live up to my expectations. This is even more aggravating when I've spent more than usual. I found a bottle of the 2005 Adelsheim Pinot Noir for a great price, and was excited to try it. (Red Carpet Wine, $24.83; available elsewhere for between $23 and $34) There is a lot of positive buzz about this winemaker, the WineScamp loved this wine, and I'd never had one before. I love pinot noir. It all looked good!

It turned out to be an expensive disappointment.

The 2005 Adelsheim Pinot Noir had aromas of funky earth, acetone, and stewed cherries. There were flavors of earth, pine, and sour cherry. The wine was reasonably complex, but the flavors and aromas didn't hang together and that acetone note was hard to get past. It made the fruit fade into the background, and the wine lacked balance as a result. For this price, I didn't feel that QPR was there, so poor QPR on this bottle.

I don't drink much Oregon Pinot Noir, it should be said, and I'm not the world expert on wine chemistry either. Anyone who is reading this who'd like to chime in with their experiences with this wine, or to let me know whether this may have been flawed by volatile acidity, please do so. Otherwise, I'm just chalking this up to experience.


Anonymous said...

I think I would have steered clear of this just based on the unappealing label. Yes, I am THAT superficial!

Try the '05 Dom Drouhin Pinot Noir for a good Oregon effort. Though I don't know if $45 and good = Dr. Debs style QPR.

MonkuWino said...

Hey Jill, maybe that's Ms. Adelsheim on the label and you insulted her.. when you try to buy from her in the future it will be "NO ADELSHEIM FOR YOU!!" haha.. You know, the most disappointing wines I have tried in general have been pinot noirs from this side of the ocean. I've been fortunate to have some excellent Burgundies so I know what the grape can do, but too often it ain't being done! Thanks for the heads up, Dr. Debs.

Velvet Fog said...

I felt the same way about this wine.

Jeff said...

Your post made me a little nervous. I have a bottle of this in my cellar that I paid $29.99 for. Hope I'm not disappointed. I wonder if something was up with your many CellarTracker people really seemed to like it!??

Anonymous said...

Eeek, sounds bad. But I ahve to say, I've had the exact same wine twice, without any "acetone" flavors. And it sounds like you had a bad bottle. I could be wrong, but after working at a winery, and still working in the industry, it sounds like a bottle variation, cause I've had that wine and it rocked my socks...twice. I have to say that the natural acidity from the wine is incredibly high, which, I think, is nice.

Anonymous said...

Adelsheim is one of the top tier producers in Oregon, in my opinion. They make three "types" of Pinot - this one (their entry-level wine), a wine called Elizabeth's Reserve which is a blend of wines from their various vineyards, and then a series of about 5 single vineyard bottlings (probably not all of which deserve to be bottled as single vineyards). Tasting many bottles over the past five years, and after a visit to the winery, I think that their best wines year after year are the Elizabeth's Reserve ($40) and the single vineyard Quarter Mile Lane ($44). The regional wine you drank is usually pretty good, but I agree that it wouldn't make me too eager to try more of their wines. That said, with acetone it might be that your bottle was overheated during travel and/or storage (and since the new release is 06, there has been at least a year of storage - who knows how some stores keep their wine?). Although 05 saw higher acidity in Oregon Pinot than in the previous bunch of vintages. Don't give up on Adelsheim cause of this bottle - especially if you are curious about Oregon Pinot.

Anonymous said...

Dr. D, I'm so sorry you had a bad Adelshiem encounter! It really sounds to me like you got a bottle with acetic damage -- that acetone note is really indicative of VA.

Volatile acidity can damage a wine in the vat, the barrel, or even in the bottle, so I wouldn't condemn all Adelsheim 2005 WV Pinot Noir... the bottle I tasted was delish!

By the by, I couldn't find out if Adelsheim filters their wines before bottling, or what filtration method they use, but filtering can evidently help keep acetic damage to a minimum.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for all these great comments. I'm definitely not giving up on Adelsheim or Oregon Pinot. Looks like there might be both bottle variation AND VA issues, and I just got a bad bottle. So, fingers crossed Jeff! Hopefully yours will be a good one. And Jill, I've only spent that much on wine a couple of times and only on wine I knew I liked but I'll file it away for future reference.

WonderBunny said...

I recently did a bit of a self guided wine tour of this area in Oregon in August. I'm not much of Pinot fan and my other half is just starting to learn about wine but we discovered that the soil chemistry really can effect the flavor of the wine. If I'm remembering correctly there are two types of soil in the area and one is volcanic and the other is something else (which I can't remember). I do remember that every wine we tried that was in the volcanic soil was a little... acidic and bitter to us. I'm sure there are some amazing wines that we just didn't find but we visited about 8 different wineries and without fail, we'd try the wine and then find out what soil the grapes were grown in. If hadn't like the wine the common factor was always the volcanic soil.

Hope that helps a little. I just found your blog and I'm so excited to read your reviews. :)