Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Organic Wine Week, Part 2: Pinot Noir

My second organic wine pick for this week involves Pinot Noir--which still seems to be everyone's favorite red variety. There's a lot to like about it, so it's not surprising. They're flavorful, rich without being heavy, and pair well with a wide variety of foods.

So when the folks at Cooper Mountain asked if I'd like to try their latest vintage of Pinot Noir I said yes. Cooper Mountain Vineyards are in the Willamette Valley, perched on the slopes of an extinct volcano in Oregon. Robert and Corrine Gross started the vineyards in 1978 and began bottling their own wine in 1987. Robert Gross always explored alternative methods of treating his medical patients--he's a psychiatrist, a homeopath, and an acupuncturist--and his fondness for the road less traveled in his career can also be seen in his wine work. Within a few years, Gross became interested in sustainable, alternative farming and began to convert the vineyards to organic methods. They were certified organic in 1995 (the second vineyard in Oregon to achieve this status), and four years later received their biodynamic Demeter certification.

The wine I sampled, the 2006 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Cooper Hill Pinot Noir, was a light bodied, cheerful wine with excellent QPR. ($15-$17 through online merchants) Made with organic, biodynamic grapes, the wine tasted very pure to me, with lots of cherry and raspberry aromas and flavors that were intense and lively. The wine had Pinot's distinctive silky character, and after you swallowed down all those fruity flavors there was a nice fresh taste in your mouth that reminded me of the smell of a wet garden. Like most Oregon Pinot Noirs that I've tasted, this wine is not opulent and rich but cool and restrained--like Grace Kelley. It's a young wine, with refreshing acidity at its core and I found that the cherry had turned to black cherry and the raspberry to blackberry after I recorked it and left it on the counter for 24 hours. This suggested to me that this is a wine that will continue to develop with age. But it's delightful right now, so you shouldn't wait to try this one. And the price is amazing for a wine that is organic, small production, and so darn tasty.

We had the Cooper Mountain Pinot Noir with some BBQ shrimp and cheese grits made with shrimp tossed in some homemade red sauce with bourbon and spices and some creamy grits laced with extra sharp cheddar cheese. The acidity really cut through the red BBQ sauce, and the purity of the fruit flavors didn't clash with the spices. This summer, if you've got plans to BBQ, get yourself some of this wine.

Cooper Mountain makes a wide range of organic, biodynamic wines including Pinot Gris, Malbec, and several different Pinot Noirs. If you want confirmation from another blogger that Cooper Mountain is a winery to watch, check out Jeff Lefevere's review over at Good Grape. This is a winery that may not be on your radar screen, but it should be. Their wines are further proof of the numerous affordable, delicious choices that are out there if you would like to make organic and biodynamic wine choices.


momoko said...

nice blog
nice article
keep it up

momoko said...

can we do some link exchange with my blog?

Leigh said...

I love your description of this Pinot Noir - cool and restrained - like Grace Kelly. Sometimes the PN's are tepid and watery - very disappointing. This one sounds like an excellent value.

enobytes said...

Cooper Mountain makes some pretty good wines, don't they? I recall trying their 1999 Willamette Valley organically grown Pinot Noir and it had aromas of violet and black cherry accented by a spiciness of cinnamon; nice wine with complex earthy terroir with a velvety long finish. I'm not sure if the same tasting room guy is at Cooper Mountain, but back in 2006, they had and extremely entertaining tasting room host which was quite the comedian!

Pamela @ enobytes