We spent a week last fall in the Willamette Valley tasting our way through the offerings from about 30 wineries, many of them internationally acclaimed with gleaming new tasting rooms in idyllic settings, overlooking lovely rolling hills dotted with small farms and acres of grapevines. But the best Pinot Noir we found was from this storefront winery in Dayton, a sleepy little town, featuring one traffic light and a few restaurants. Seufert Winery is a small room stacked with barrels, winemaking equipment, a makeshift tasting bar and features the winemaker’s 5 yr. old daughter chatting up the guests. It also includes a lineup of single-vineyard wines that, to my palate, are among the best in the valley. They have the earthy complexity and silky mouthfeel that I look for in Pinot Noir—if I were blind tasting these wines I would guess Burgundy Grand Cru.
One reason these wines are special is that winemaker Jim Seufert holds back his wines refusing to release them until they are ready. This is an expensive proposition for a small winery but it guarantees every wine sold is drinking at its speak. So the current lineup of available wines will include many back vintages like this 2009 that was still available last Fall.
Light ruby in the glass but with some copper highlights just beginning to show signs of age. The nose is well-developed with pungent mushroom and coffee aromas and a touch of caramel beginning to overshadow the dark cherry aromas. A hint of volatile acidity gives character to the wine reminding me of some aged Barolos. The evolution on the palate is lovely—an introduction of silky, plump fruit swells and tightens as the acidity kicks in, surrendering to a long, sensuous finish on soft, gentle tannins. The mouthfeel is dead on—what Pinot Noir should be.
These are small production lots so particular vineyard designate wines may sell out quickly. But all five versions of Pinot Noir I tasted had the fully-developed, earthy quality and graceful mouthfeel that I find so intriguing.
For silky, earthy accompaniment, the very sound of Pinot Noir, there is none better than Miles, “There is No Greater Love”