The first thing you see when you visit the website for Patricia Green Cellars is this note:
“Patricia Green Cellars enthusiastically and unapologetically produces more individual bottlings of Pinot Noir than any winery in America.” (In ALL CAPS no less!)
As a longtime fan of the wines I’ve often noted that it’s quality more than quantity that makes this more than a dig-me boast. The biggest challenge for any winery producing a big lineup of Pinots from the same vintage is making each of them distinctive, stand-alone wines. When it gets down to single clone or block selections, all too often I taste a good component rather than a complete wine. The remarkable achievement at Patty Green Cellars is that the dozens of different cuvées are all distinctive and compelling, no matter the vintage.
On my most recent visit to the winery I was well aware of their track record for multiple Pinots – as many as a half dozen estate bottlings and many others singled out by clone, block or vineyard. But even I was gobsmacked to walk into the tasting room and find a lineup of 36 – yes 36! – 2021 Pinot Noirs staring back at me. How to proceed?
As I surveyed the lineup I noticed that there were six different wines from the Freedom Hill vineyard alone. That seemed to be the perfect focus for a 90 minute tasting, one that would put the winemaking team of Jim Anderson and Matthew Russell to the test once again. Matty and I tasted through all six, giving them as much time as possible. Those tasting notes are re-published below, along with half of the wines I brought home.
My preference is always to taste at home, where I can return to the bottles over the course of several days. Although the Freedom Hill wines remained with the tasting room, the rest of my reviews are the result of multiple visits to every bottle over the course of three or four days.
I am not saying that there aren’t plenty of other wineries that can put out a well-made and varied portfolio of Pinot Noirs. Of course there are. Let’s say 8 – 12 wines per vintage is about average for many Oregon (and California) Pinot specialists. Most often they are differentiated by vineyard. In the case of a winery attached to a specific vineyard, such as Shea, you’ll find a number of block selections representing different clones, different soils and/or different vine ages.
What makes Patty Green unique is not only the sheer number of cuvées, but the fact that each and every one is distinctive, balanced and complete. By complete I mean that there are no holes in the palate. Furthermore they are balanced throughout, aromatically interesting, generally low alcohol with exceptionally long, trailing finishes.
Do you have to dig down a bit to find the differences? Sometimes yes; other times, as with the 2021 Balcombe Vineyard Pinot Noir and Balcombe Vineyard Block 1B Pinot Noir, the differences are stark and immediately apparent. In any event I find these wines fascinating, and never tire of them. Many showed best on the second day, so decanting is strongly recommended for early drinking.
Given the sheer number of wines and the time and attention I am happy to afford them, I’m publishing just the first half of my reviews today. The second half will be up in a week.
You may purchase most of these 2021 Pinots here. Click on the individual entries for many of the wines listed and you’ll get a full page of technical information on the vineyard and the winemaking. Oh, and check out the prices. $37 – $45 – $48 for some truly sensational, cellar-worthy wines.
Freedom Hill Vineyard
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Freedom Hill Vineyard
This is the least expensive Freedom Hill offering, a mix of Wadensvil, Pommard and Coury clone fruit from younger vines. Compared with all the others this lacks comparable specificity but the reward is that it piles on the flavors. Dark fruits, coffee and spice add up to a big, flavorful wine that is, quite honestly, a steal. Previously featured as my Wine of the Week on April 21st. 13.3%; $37 (Willamette Valley) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Freedom Hill Pommard Clone Pinot Noir
Still young, tart mix of cranberry, raspberry and a little black cherry. Some spice and chewy barrel tannins. In particular it is showing strong phenolic flavors right now, with notes of stem and soil. All in all it’s a nicely woven wine that should develop beautifully with more bottle age. 13.2%; $48 (Willamette Valley) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Freedom Hill Dijon 115 Clone Pinot Noir
I found compelling freshness, sparked with good acidity and tangy cranberry/cherry fruit. Spicy, sharp and deliciously deep as it dives into darker flavors of black cherry and chocolate. Great persistence through the finish. 13.6%; $48 (Willamette Valley) 94/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Freedom Hill Wadensvil Clone Pinot Noir
From a 1998 planting, this is aromatically captivating, spicy, with highlights of clean earth, graphite and black cherry fruit. Impressively dense with a slightly chalky mouthfeel, the accent components of bark and earth are perfectly proportioned. The overall focus, depth and detail are very impressive. Previously featured as my Cellar Wine of the Week on May 5th. 13.8%; $48 (Willamette Valley) 95/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Freedom Hill Coury Clone Pinot Noir
This stunning effort is loaded with black fruits and tannins that taste like tea leaves. It carries itself with a delicate lightness, seemingly both elegant and powerful. The long, lingering flavors mix berries, dried leaves, hints of citrus and tannins that build gracefully into a cascading finish. 13.5%; $75 (Willamette Valley) 97/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Freedom Hill Perspicacious Cuvée Pinot Noir
This cuvée is compiled from a different clone every year – recent vintages have cycled through Dijon 115, Coury, 115 again and currently Wadensvil. It’s a barrel selection, 100% whole cluster fermented in a Grand Cru style. In sum this is bigger, darker and more tannic than the other Freedom Hill expressions, and clearly built for the long term. That said it was a bit too stubbornly closed to really get a handle on it in my time-limited tasting, so no score for now. 13.3%; $150 (Willamette Valley)
Wines from the Chehalem Mountains AVA
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Chehalem Mountain Vineyard Erath Clone Pinot Noir
Oregon wine industry founder Dick Erath planted this vineyard in 1968; this particular block went into the ground a decade later. Back in the day mysterious clones might have arrived in suitcases, but this, like the Coury clone, is recognized as unique and distinctive. There’s an earthy quality to this wine, putting the flavors squarely in the soil as much as in the fruit. The tart flavors of wild berries are complemented with mixed savory/earthy notes, cut tobacco and dried almonds, all balanced against supporting tannins. 13.4%; $60 (Chehalem Mountains) 92/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Chehalem Mountain Vineyard Wadensvil Clone Pinot Noir
Calling Wadensvil “the queen of our cellar” the winery notes that when sourced from marine soils (uplifted seabed) this clone produces “incredibly intriguing and complex wines.” No argument from me. This is a wine to dive into deeply, noticing its layered flavors of orange peel, rhubarb, pomegranate, truffle, toasted almonds and touches of chocolate-covered marshmallows. As luxurious as all that may sound, it’s still young, tight and focused, not over the top in any way. It asks for your focused attention, and it offers pure enjoyment in return. 13.4%; $60 (Chehalem Mountains) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Corrine Vineyard Wadensvil Block Pinot Noir
Sourced from a 1991 planting, this evocative wine is miles apart from the companion ‘Anklebreaker’ Corrine vineyard bottling. It’s scented with berries and bramble, light yet lingering, an elegant wine with some tannic muscle through the finish. It may well be one of those Pinots that outlives its bigger brethren, for it is already in perfect balance and nicely captures the essence of classic Pinot Noir. 13%; $48 (Chehalem Mountains) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Corrine Vineyard Anklebreaker Block Pinot Noir
Originally this site was part of the Jacob-Hart vineyard, first planted 35 years ago. More recently this piece was owned by John Olenik; and now by Cooper Mountain winery, who renamed it. This particular block is a 2007 planting of Pommard in a very rocky part of the vineyard, hence Anklebreaker. It’s been a Patty Green designate for seven or eight of the past dozen years. In 2021 25% of the barrels were new, the rest neutral. The rocky soils complement the naturally fruit-forward Pommard, adding to the wine’s depth with a mineral underpinning around dark and chewy tannins. Black fruits are here in abundance, and there’s a toughness and an unrestrained quality to the wine, which seems to be pulling at its leash. Aerate and let it run free. 300 cases; 13.2%; $60 (Chehalem Mountains) 94/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Lia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
Lia’s was originally part of the Jacob-Hart vineyard planted in 1988. This multi-clone cuvée saw two out of 16 new barrels. Many if not most of the Patty Green wines are value priced, but this is especially noteworthy. Complex, detailed, elegant, savory and tightly wound, its cascading red and black fruits are supported with bitter herbs and tangy blood orange acidity. A long finish reveals more and more details, including a trailing seam of cinnamon. A sensational value. 400 cases; 13.3%; $37 (Chehalem Mountains) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Medici Vineyard Pinot Noir
From an archetypal vineyard, first planted in 1976, this wine brings together blocks from both the original and later plantings. If you like the flavors of fresh, forward fruit (as I do) this is a good wine to know. Fragrant with floral notes, tasty red and black cherry fruit, this is a well-structured Pinot Noir with a savory underpinning. The balance and length are superb. A seam of licorice runs through the finish, which continues to add such unsuspected touches as chicken stock and dried Italian herbs. This continued to drink beautifully on day two and day three. 250 cases; 13.2%; $55 (Chehalem Mountains) 96/100
Wines from the Dundee Hills AVA
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Balcombe Vineyard Pinot Noir
This is another site planted to Pommard clone more than three decades ago. Plump and juicy with lush red berry fruits, this is one of the most affordable wines in the Patty Green lineup, and also one of the most instantly accessible. It’s bursting with fresh berry flavors backed with snappy acidity. Flavors linger through a lightly peppery finish. Re-tasted after 24 hours the fruit has become downright explosive. It’s just a sensational value. 13.7%; $45 (Dundee Hills) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Balcombe Vineyard Block 1B Pinot Noir
This block selection highlights the grapes from a section of the vineyard with thin, rocky soils. Significantly darker, riper and fleshier than its companion Balcombe vineyard bottling, this brings more assertive minerality, texture and power. The fruits run from berry to plum to black cherry, threaded with savory herbs and a touch of five-spice. One quarter saw new French oak. As with so many Patty Green wines, the distinctions among different cuvées from a single vineyard are meaningful, interesting and well-defined. This tasted as good on day three as on day one, so feel free to stow a few bottles in the cellar. 13.8%; $75 (Dundee Hills) 95/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Balcombe Vineyard 25th Anniversary Pinot Noir
This limited production wine is labeled with a drawing of vineyard owner Joyce Baker Cooke. Not listed on the website. It’s a lovely bottle, with a mix of strawberry, raspberry and Bing cherry, a hint of dried straw, good texture and length. Drinking nicely as soon as the cork is pulled, it opens gracefully and walks a fine line between fruity and savory, with excellent texture. 13.6%;(Dundee Hills) 93/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Durant Vineyard Madrone Block Pinot Noir
This family-owned vineyard dates back a half century; this block was planted in 2000. Domaine Drouhin, De Ponte and Sokol Blosser are adjacent vineyards. The Dijon 115 clone yields a firm, sculpted wine, with savory framing. The red fruits are compact, tart, restrained. Just picked wild raspberries come to mind. It’s tight but balanced, though showing plenty of acidity. Try this with grilled salmon. 13.5%; $45 (Dundee Hills) 92/100
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Durant Vineyard Bishop Block Pinot Noir
All Pommard planted a half century ago, the broad fruit flavors are annotated with lemon thyme, parsley and a hint of mint. This block selection exhibits the structure and dense detail that are hallmarks of Patty Green wines. The pure berry/cherry fruit flavors hold down the center and promise medium term aging potential. 13.5%; $48 (Dundee Hills) 93/100
…and one more…
Patricia Green Cellars 2021 Hyland Vineyard Pinot Noir – Though not labeled as such this is the Coury clone bottling. I visited Hyland recently and can do no better description than this from the winery website: “It’s an amazing old vineyard and the idea that someone either was crazy enough or had the temerity to plant a vineyard this far out in the middle of nowhere in 1973 is spellbinding.” Now owned by NW Wine Co. and farmed biodynamically by Bruno Corneaux, this exceptional site is a perfect addition to the Patty Green portfolio. Half the barrels were new, keeping this young wine tightly wound. About 40% of the grapes were from the original planting. What can I say? This is extraordinary, deep, detailed, and demanding with a lovely mix of black berries, cherries, coffee grounds and chocolate, exotic spices and firm, ripe, toasty tannins. If you are tasting it now, decant it. Over time the tannins got more aggressive suggesting that the best window here is the next six or eight years. 400 cases; 13.1%; $75 (McMinnville) 95/100