Oregon Pinot presents me with challenges. While the structural qualities of these wines pleases and bodes well for future development, the often sappy fruit turns me off. The wines do well with bolder food flavours but they rarely for me reach the elegance of truly great Pinot Noir.
All that said, Cameron offers close to the best example of what Oregon is currently capable of. These wines not only embrace the savory side of Pinot, but they age extremely well. With age, their aromatics move into the ethereal realm that distinguishes great from merely good Pinot Noir.
Biochemsitry and Vineyard Age
I pin much of the Cameron uniqueness on their cellar, which was seeded with spores to create a microbiological ecosystem. Jean-Paul, the owner, likes to remind that the father of bio-chemistry, Louis Pasteur, was actually a wine chemist who discovered important fundamental principles of chemistry by studying tartrate crystals in wine. Jean-Paul is a biochemist and carefully studied the cellar environment necessary to create wine of real intrigue and complexity. He combines this with careful respect for the vineyard ecosystem, dry-farming farming organically with careful use of rotating cover crops since the 1970’s.
The Abbey Ridge Vineyard is among the oldest in Oregon. Its first Pinot Noir clones were planted in 1976. It is known to make elegant wines. This was true of the 2006, which was perhaps the most aromatically beautiful Oregon Pinot I have had. Incredible florals such as roses, with bright red berry fruit and sous bois. On the palate, the wine is fresh and lightly textured with very nice elegance. My only criticism is the shorter finish and slightly hollowed out mid-palate. But those are minimal complaints when there is so much beauty in the glass.
This stood out head and shoulders above a tasting of older Oregon Pinots from White Rose, St. Innocent, and Drouhin among others.
It was also much improved from when I first tasted it back in 2009.
Now I await the rest of Oregon to approach and improve on this level of wine.
~$70 for current vintages at Marquis Wine Cellars