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One of my work trips later this year will take me to Portland, OR for a couple of weeks in August, which will of course include a weekend roaming around the Willamette Valley.  In preparation, I’ve been on the look out for Willamette Valley wines that I’ve never heard of in the hopes of finding a few jewels to add to my list of wineries to visit while I’m there. deponte-pinot-noir-20063

Last night my wife and I went to dinner at River Stone Chophouse and had the chance to try a new (new to us) Willamette Valley producer – De Ponte Cellars.  Our server recommended this particular producer because she’s visited the winery and blah blah blah she really liked it – that was good enough for me since it fit my criteria for the evening – one, it must pair well with my pork chops, and two it should be a Pinot from the Willamette Valley. 

De Ponte Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir

De Ponte Cellars located in the Dundee Hills AVA in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Real cork closure.  14.2% alcohol.  $68/bottle restaurant price, about $38 retail.  Nice light purple color with tinges of pink at the rim along with bright raspberry, mint and dust on the nose.  Heavier in the mouth than expected for a Pinot with pronounced oak influence which seemed to overpower the dark cherry and plum tastes.  This one was much better the next morning when I tasted it (just a quick taste, no swallow).  Thankfully, in Virginia, restaurants will recork a wine to take home if you don’t finish it.  The next morning, the wine showed more finesse – the fruit and tannins seemed better integrated with a nice red fruit and earth finish.