Wine Review: Roco Winery “The Stalker” Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013

roco the stalkerThis is a fascinating, distinctive wine. While many winemakers add whole grape clusters to the fermentation tanks to add complexity to the finished product, the presence of stalks can introduce green, twiggy flavors that mask the fruit flavors making the wine seem dull. Roco’s legendary winemaker Rollin Solles solves this problem by storing the grapes while he air-dries the stalks, a modification of the traditional method of drying grapes used in Italy’s Valpolicella region. The result is a savory Pinot Noir with edgy, spicy tannins and a unique finish that mimics the prickly, crystalline finish of a good sparkling wine—which is not surprising given that Solles was co-founder of the great Oregon sparkling wine producer, Argyle.

Bright raspberry fruit with floral top notes burgeon from the glass and are woven with the Willamette Valley’s characteristic crushed rock aromas. A few moments in the glass bring more earth tones to the foreground. On the palate the wine is lithe and willowy with a complex evolution that travels from fruit to swelling waves of minerality eventually introducing an impression of fresh spring water before the spicy tannins begin to bristle and plume.

A wine for people who like their delicacy with an undertone of kinetic energy.

It has the structure and balance to enliven rich dishes with some mild flavor components —I enjoyed it with smoked salmon tossed with cream and parmesan served over pasta.

Playing in the background you will want something energetic and quirky such as Lionel Loueke’s “Nonvignon”

Score: 92

Price: $50

Alc: 14%

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