2019 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The velvety Ribbon Ridge Pinot From John Paul, the Oregon legend, at Cameron Winery starts with some classic earthy funky reduction on the nose, but opens beautiful with its exceptional dark and deep color in the glass and seamlessly unfolds on the medium bodied palate with silky dark fruits led by black cherry, along with tart currant, plum, briar laced blackberry and creamy oak notes. The textural quality and mouth feel impress here as this wine opens, usually these young Cameron’s can more wound up and hard, so this Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir welcomes youthful drinking, especially after the nose blows off and the wine gets a few swirls, though it really excels with food and gains depth, complexity and adds a full sense of completeness. I had thought this would be lighter and brighter in form, though it adds rich details over the hour or so I had it open and is very poised, making it a beautiful value for fans of this winery and those that are familiar with Paul’s style, which is very old world influenced. The wines from Ribbon Ridge are known for being deep and powerfully structured and the upper echelon of producers here, like Beaux Freres, the late Patty Green, Brick House, and Cameron, make wines that are built to last, they are very much collectable wines to cellar with most getting better over a decade or more. This vintage has a lot of appeal and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the Pinots perform, especially Cameron’s top bottlings like the iconic Clos Electrique and one of my personal favs, the Arley’s Leap, a wine I always save my pennies for and put away for a few years!

Cameron sourced the grapes from the White Oak Vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA from the region’s marine sedimentary soils and hillside parcels that allow for deep flavors and the notable darker hues these wines always seem to have. Each of Cameron’s vineyards, all of which are dry farmed and use sustainable practices exhibit, as the winery notes, the area’s unique terroir and therefore show individual characteristics when done as solo site efforts, which Cameron does, so depending on your taste, preferences for either can vary significantly, with this wine is an interesting single site expression that nicely contrasts its ripe fruit with spicy and savory elements. Alan Foster, who grows the grapes at White Oak Vineyard, has added blocks of special Martin Ray clones of Pinot Noir, and John Paul, who brought some of Mount Eden’s cuttings to Oregon, says his fans should really stay tuned for some incredible wines from this site in the future.This 2019 just feels right and elegant, even now, though it should develop more floral intensity with another year or so in bottles as it only hints with faint rose petal notes in the background, though mostly hidden behind the forest floor and truffle earthiness. The celery wood, vanilla and brambly spices are well judged here and a good sense of refined natural acidity, plus the low alcohol, at 12.4% give this wine a Burgundy like grace. All of the wines are fermented with the indigenous yeasts in open top tanks aged in small oak cooperage for a minimum of 18-20 months, with this one seeing mostly used barrels. Cameron has a great set of wines with some of the Willamette Valley’s most sought after Pinots, plus Chardonnay, as well as their wonderful Italian inspired collection of whites and the awesome Nebbiolo, it is a great time to explore these wines.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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