97% Pinot Noir 3% Syrah
- If it’s good enough for the President of the Philippines and Hillary Clinton, it’s good enough for you! What am I talking about? Well, the Primarius Pinot Noir was recently served at a June luncheon at the Department of State in Washington DC. Check-out the full menu at the bottom of this post.
- It’s only been in the last 2 years that I’ve started to grow an appreciation for Oregon Pinot Noirs….I should probably correct myself there.…I’ve always liked the wines….it’s just the prices that are sometimes hard to swallow (no pun intended)!
Good quality and affordable are two completely two separate concepts when it comes to Pinot Noir in Oregon. Usually the good ones are rarely affordable, and the affordable ones are most frequently just not that good,….but you could probably say the same thing about Pinot Noir from anywhere (since it’s a notoriously “finicky” and expensive grape to grow). Therefore, the starting rung on the “Oregon wine ladder” should be the generic “Oregon-state” wines (as with the Primarius), who source their fruit from multiple vineyards.
- In case you were wondering, the 3% Syrah in this wine is probably just being used to add color and the tiniest amount of body to the Primarius. This kind of blending is used by a great number of Pinot Noir producers, and “other grapes” can sometimes can go as high as 25% (depending on the rules and regs of the state).
- The Latin translation of Primarius is “distinguished.”
- The 2010 Primarius received a gold medal in this year’s Oregon Wine Awards and the 2009 appeared in the Wine Spectator’s “Top Value Pinot Noirs”.
- 60% of the grapes for the Primarius come from the Willamette Valley.
- Oregon has over 840 vineyards planted. It’s third in the United States for the number of wineries, and fourth (after California, New York and Washington) in the country for gallons produced. Oregon currently has over 450 wineries (based on 2011 stats).
- Wine has been part of the Oregon landscape since the 1840s, but only really started gaining significant momentum since the 60s. Obviously Prohibition (1920-1933) didn’t help matters too much!
- Since Oregon is a cooler region, the wines are heavily influenced by the weather, and there is often quite a lot of variation between vintages. This is usually too much of a concern with wines such as the Primarius (since they’re sourcing from multiple appellations throughout Oregon and can pick and choose their grapes accordingly), but the single-vineyard wineries had some real challenges presented to them in ‘09, ‘07, ‘05, ‘04 and ‘03.
- It goes without saying that Pinot Noir is the heart-and-soul of the Oregon wine industry with 20,500 planted acres (about 32 sq miles) in 2011.
The Primarius certainly bears a very light, almost pinkish color (if would have been a hell-of a-lot darker if they had added more Syrah). The taste matches the color, with bright red cherry, cranberry and ripe raspberry; but the soft and delicate earthy and dried herb notes aren’t that far behind. Very mellow, with a beautifully long finish. It will change before your eyes/palate if you give it a little time in the glass. A great intro to Oregon Pinot (potentially also red Burgundies) for the novice, and a perfect every-night “glugger” for the already inducted.
The Primarius would pair perfectly with smoked meats or sausage, veal, turkey or duck. Also give thought to dishes with complimentary ingredients such as red fruit reductions, mushrooms, truffles, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.