It's conventional wisdom that Pinot Noir is an extremely versatile wine with food, and that virtue was on full display at a recent charity dinner I attended. However, we also bumped up against the wine's limits.
The dinner, held at iCi Restaurant in Brooklyn, benefited ioby, an organization that supports local environmental projects through web-based crowd-sourcing initiatives. (Disclosure: my wife, Sara, was chair of the event committee.) The draw was a range of Oregon Pinot Noirs from Roco Wines, owned and run by Rollin Soles of Argyle and his wife, Corby Stonebraker-Soles. The delicious locavore menu paired three courses with four different Pinots.
The first course, an assertive salad featuring dandelion greens and pea shoots, nearly drowned out the 2009 Willamette Valley cuvée, but the wine stayed lively, matching the intense bitter herbs with crisp cherry fruit. The main course marriage was heavenly. Slow-roasted pork shoulder with grilled spring onions and a ramp puree had a rich, savory character that nestled beautifully into the smoky, mineral notes of Roco's 2008 "Private Stash." The wine had both the volume and the focus to complement the strong flavors of the dish. I rated the wine 92 points, non-blind.
But even the vibrant, berry-filled 2010 Marsh Vineyard bottling was no match for an intense goat-cheese cheesecake served for dessert. The honeyed sweetness turned the wine tart and bitter. Never mind. The 35 guests simply drank up the wine, then cleaned their plates. It was a happy ending to a lovely event for a worthy cause.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Roco Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains Private Stash No. 6 2008 (94 points, $75).
Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Oregon Pinot Noirs.