Honest Pinot For the People

Pike Road Pinot Noir

 

I am consistently impressed by the quality and variety of wine coming from Oregon – without any hesitation I call Oregon the best place in the US to get wine from – the sticking point is price since the cheap seats start in the twenties and quickly go up from there. So, it was nice to find this wine: reasonably priced, quality minded, and tasty as all get out … and from a respected producer in Oregon. If Pinot Noir at a great price is your thing; welcome to the Pike Road Pinot Noir.

 

Quick Tidbits

 

  • Sourced from Elk Cove Vineyards & other sources in the Willamette Valley
  • Handpicked Grapes, Hand Sorted, and Small Production

 

About the Winery

 

Pike Road is the sister winery to the more famous Elk Cove Vineyards. Born out of a necessity to provide wines of a high quality and at a low price, the winery was spun off as its own thing though there is lots of crossover between the two (similar winemaking team, vineyard sources, etc). For me, as a complete outsider, it makes perfect sense for a ton of reasons (read more below if you want to geek out) and this is exactly what the modern winery needs to do … although it's hard to do correctly. The grapes for this wine come from four sources: Elk Cove, Shea Vineyards, Fairsing, and Zenith – all super great places to get grapes and rare to see the resultant wines this cheap. In the end, this wine has the making to be excellent and it is, indeed, excellent.

 

What It Tastes Like

 

Bright. That is the immediate word that pops into my head. Bright and cherries with touch of vanilla. Think of the flavor that you’d get out of an old school Cherry Coke (without the added sugariness) and that might be pretty close to this wine. It’s pure Pinot Noir and unabashed in its simplicity; light bodied and easy like Sunday morning. Our number one selling Pinot Noir is the Klee from Roots Wine Co and while from a business standpoint it may seem silly to have two competing at similar prices, the wonderful thing is that they are two sides of the same coin. The Klee is full of tart cherry and oaky smoke while the Pike Road is richer and fruitier and, maybe, a bit more delicate – I can very clearly see both of these wines being successful dependent on your mood or what you’re having for dinner. Pike Road is exactly why Oregon can’t be beat in the “quality for your money” arena. We bought a good chunk of the wine too and got the price down to a fantastic seventeen dollars.

 

Wee Bully Pulpit

 

Over the last couple of weeks there was a small scandal in Oregon over a wine company using some misleading language on their wine labels. (Read about it here if you wish). In short, Oregon has the toughest wine laws in the US - it’s one of the only places that has 100% rules: if the label says Pinot Noir … it’s gotta be 100% Pinot Noir, if it says Willamette Valley … it’s gotta be 100% Willamette Valley. No messing around. The story of why that is important and how it impacts this wine is fairly nuanced but be safe in knowing that there is an honesty in the Pike Road that is clear on the front label. Pinot Noir and Willamette Valley.

In the coming years we’re going to see more and more misleading and dishonest tactics used by wineries and companies. Oregon is known for quality and with that quality comes an increase in what can be charged for a bottle. That is a win-win for people making wine in Oregon today (the groundwork was laid and the hard work done by the earlier wineries) but it also opens the door for people who weren’t there previously or are just buying their way up the ladder – they get to reap the rewards. Nothing against that at all but when you use dishonest or misleading practices, you should get called to the floor. Part of the reason I, and thanks for reading my little rant, want to make this all known is that this wine is about as reasonably priced as I’ve ever seen for Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and being so, affectionately, cheap the logical leap is that there is something wrong, dishonest, or off with it. That is not that case here … the underlying reasons for this wine’s price are myriad but Elk Cove/Pike Road were “in a position to make more wine while still supporting the farms and vineyards (Eyrie just did something truly commendable) without compromising the law nor their integrity. At the end, things are changing for Oregon and I’m glad to support Pike Road just as I am glad to support lots of other producers in Oregon through this change. Buy this wine with confidence. It is honest and honestly tasty.

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