2013 Ribbon Ridge Pinot noir

This wine was extensively reviewed by Michael Alberty and we just can’t top his description.  Here you go:

It has been years since a new Cameron Pinot Noir came out (much less a single vineyard designate) and this one is causing quite a buzz. It’s made with grapes from a vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA up near the Trisaetum and Brick House wineries and it has an interesting story.

The vineyard is owned by Alan Foster, a fellow who is well known in these parts for starting up Oregon’s first cidery  in the 1980s. White Oak Cider was legendary in these parts but roughly ten years ago Alan made the decision to to get into the grape growing business. Sections of his property were cleared to plant Pinot Noir and, thanks to John Paul’s persistence, a small amount of Nebbiolo. Alan may still be selling some of his prized apples to Wandering Aengus, but for all intents and purposes he is a vineyard owner.

The reason this wine is just called “Ribbon Ridge” is nobody has taken the time to name the vineyard. Alan just shrugs his shoulders and refers to it as “Dunno” Vineyard while the merry pranksters at Cameron have dubbed it Foster Farms Vineyard in honor of chickens everywhere. What I can tell you is it is located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA on some prime property, surrounded on all sides by highly regarded wineries and vineyards.

The Ribbon Ridge AVA is usually a bit drier and warmer than the Dundee Hills and that difference in microclimate is reflected in this wine. That old Burgundy saying about the “iron fist in the velvet glove?” Meet the iron fist.

The label says 12.5% but as I’m sitting here looking at its dark crimson color I have to wonder about the accuracy of that claim. Then the first scents drift up and out of the glass and I have new information to process. The wine has a nice floral character, with violets, thyme, wet hay and scrub pine blending together to create a form of Ribbon Ridge garrigue. That is followed up with bursts of black cap raspberries, black currants and bit of seared meat fat.

The first sip engulfs the palate with a heady combination of chewy tannins and juicy acidity. The tannins are ahead in this contest, but not by much. The same dark fruit flavors from the nose are to be found here, but they are joined by exotic notes of beeswax and almonds. The odd thing is despite the weighty mouthfeel, the Cameron Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir seems slippery in the mouth, as if you loaded up a Wham-O Slip’N Slide with Pinot Noir instead of water and went for a head first dive across the backyard. Finally, there is a minerality here that I have yet to encounter. It’s like black slate, but somehow it is even darker. If rain water dripping off a piece of polished onyx had a taste, perhaps it might approximate this mineral note.

The Ribbon Ridge’s only serious shortcoming is its tiny supply. There were only four barrels made (all French, only one of which was new) and I count myself lucky to get a small handful of cases. When ordering please keep in mind I’ll do my best but I probably won’t be able to satisfy all orders.

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