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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oregundian Trail: Rex Hill, Pinot Noir 2002 Carabella Vineyard

If you love Pinot Noir as much as I do a trip to what can be affectionately referred to as the Oregundian Trail in Oregon's Willamette Valley is a mandatory trip! You have to see it, experience and best of all taste these wines from what I would call the new "mecca" of Pinot Noir wonder and goodness this side of the pond!

Some may wince at this statement, saying Oregon Pinot has become too fruit forward and syrupy, and we prefer wines with far more restraint and austerity, well okay if that's what you like this review will not change your mind. But for everyone else who actually would like to taste something other than dirt and mushrooms read on.
This particular wine was found sitting clumsily in an old wine barrel at the Rex Hill tasting room, where my wife and I were quaffing our way through the tasting menu way back in 2004, on our own pilgrimage to the Willamette Valley. I queried our tasting room attendant about the "marked-down" bottles and she said, "that is the island of misfit wines", their labels are on crooked or wrinkled, so we discount them. This wine was not available for tasting but upon the word of the tasting room attendant, we decided to take the misfits with us and boy we were glad we did! When we got home we put away all our wine treasures from our Orgundian Trail experience and really forgot about this misfit we purchased until October of 2007. A beautiful fall evening here in San Diego, with a wood fired pizza cooking on the barbie, along side a spinach salad and rummaging around in the cellar, I found the misfit! The Rex Hill Vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir Carabella Vineyard 2002 (USA ...; slumbering gracefully amongst the Bergstoms, Patricia Green and Owen Roes waiting to be opened and relished.
First Swirl: After opening the bottle of misfit wine, this Pinot Noir glistened and shimmered in the glass like gentle rose petals falling upon a silken pillow. The color was a lithe shade of crimson in the core fading to a silky cerise rim.
First Sniff: The aromas of barnyard type rustic smells wafted effortlessly from my glass, with a strong under currant of rich spices and fragrant red berry's enveloped my senses and tempted my palate with forthcoming pleasure.
First Sip: Rich black cherry, raspberry, with a dusting of earthiness. Very sweet, ethereal entry. Seamless, immediately expressive rich sandalwood spice, black cherry, fruit tart explosion. Really nice balance, acidity and elegant mouth-feel, departing with a wondrously long finish.
The Vineyards: A selection of 17 barrels from south and southeast sloping blocks of this vineyard located approximately 5 miles SE of the Rex Hill Vineyards Estate Winery.
Composition:
Composed of 100% Pinot Noir grapes from the Carabella Vineyard in the Willamette Valley.
Alcohol Percentage: 14.2 % Just a little hot! But after decanting for an hour before consuming it was hardly noticeable.
My Recommendation: This wine is long gone as far as I am able to research, but Rex Hill still has a few of the 2003 which WS says's is even better! WS gave the 02, 87 points and the 03, 90 points. If possible I would grab a couple of the 03's from Rex Hill's library collection. It is definitely worth the $55.00 entrance fee. If you see any other Rex Hill wines give them a swirl, I think you will be glad you did.
Other Voices:
PINOT NOIR CARABELLA VINEYARD

92
Wine Entusiast 5/06
90
Wine Spectator “Insider” 5/31/06
From
: the
The PinotFile Archive 2002 Rex Hill Carabella Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 13.6% alc.. (not sure where he got the 13.6 %, as I still have the label clearly marked 14.2%)· Actually my second favorite of the tasting but not many tasters agreed. This wine had the whole package - five spice nose, silky mouth feel, and a lasting finish of spice-tinged cherries and berries. Reviewed March 27, 2007 ARTICLE »
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