LAB RAT REPORT: WOOT LAB RAT REPORT: WOOT LAB RAT REPORT: WOOT
Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Reviewers: dsapp and “wife of dsapp”
Wine: 2007 Torii Mor Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Select (USA, Oregon, Willamette), Release Price: $45
Stemware: Reidel “Burgundy Red” Glasses
Decant: limited (15 minutes, then consumed bottle over next 90-105 minutes).
Shipping, Storage, and Temperature: Wine was shipped overnight via FedEx from California to Connecticut. It arrived “cool to the touch” at 1:30 p.m. It was then placed in 56-degree cellar for 4 ½ hours until decant as described above. Not ideal circumstances.
Disclosures: My wife and I greatly enjoy pinot noir and drink quite a bit of it during the fall season (Foxen and Roessler as our typical “daily drinkers” and Sea Smoke and Kosta Browne as our “special occasion” wines). We are most familiar with pinot noir from the Central Coast and Sonoma. We are not very familiar at all with pinot noir from Oregon like the one we are reviewing here, but we are open to trying it and learning more about it. As such, readers should consider us open-minded and curious drinkers of this wine, familiar with the varietal, and enthusiastic about the task at hand.
Comments on Wine with Food Pairings: Our Review
Pre-Meal: “Our First Impressions”
Comments on Wine: While the meal was being assembled, I decanted the wine and poured a couple ounces in each of our glasses. The cork removed cleanly with no issues, and the wine showed no visible sediment. Color was bright ruby to light garnet, with a gold tint. It was a very light-bodied pinot noir in appearance. Nose: for me, it was “library dusty with a little dark plum.” The nose was not red fruit-forward, or cherry cola like we sometimes get from some Central Coast pinot. It was also not the mushroom, earth, mineral, barnyard pinot we get from some Burgundy, and high-end Sonoma. It had a slightly grainy tannin structure. After our first taste, my impression was that this is a very muted fruit pinot that isn’t terribly complex. I wondered if it might be asleep. My wife picked up a slight hint of “green” (specifically not sprouts) and a little unripe raspberry, not sweet, and maybe a little maraschino cherry. No significant flaws.
1st Course: “Pinot with a Nice Stinky Cheese”
Stanser Rotelli, washed rind/reblochon-style cow cheese from Switzerland, purchased at Fairfield Cheese Company (http://fairfieldcheese.com/). No bread or crackers. Ate with a knife and fingers, the way it was intended.
Comments on Wine: My wife remained very open-minded about the wine, hoping that it would develop over time. After 30 minutes in the decanter, she reported something new off the nose: “a hint of cheese mold.” No, it wasn’t from the Stanser Rotelli. I asked if it was “good” cheese mold or “bad” cheese mold, and she said it was faint, but good. She was relieved that the wine was “doing something and showing a little more complexity.” But it took a lot of effort on her part. We agreed that this wine takes a lot of patience and open-mindedness. Fifteen minutes later, I managed to pick up a slight vanilla bean on the nose. The finish remained pleasant: not long, but it was dry and smooth. Again, no significant flaws. The cheese pairing was good, and the wine seemed to perform better with food than it did alone upon initial pour.
2nd Course: “Classic Pairing with Roast Chicken”
Rotisserie Free-Range Chicken with Lemon Pepper Rub from The Pantry (http://www.thepantry.net/). Again, limited use of utensils. Used knife and fingers to separate meat from the bone off fresh chicken.
Cut Green Beans from The Fresh Market. No seasonings.
Parmesan & Thyme Baguette from Patisserie Isabelle et Vincent (http://www.isabelleetvincent.com/). Used to sop up the juices from the chicken. No butter.
Comments on Wine: We continued to try our best to be patient with the wine. With nearly an hour in the decanter, the flavors were still quite muted, and to both of us, the wine’s appearance and style seemed “somewhat watery and diluted.” To make sense of this, we went to the winery’s website and read how the weather upon harvest was wet and that the fruit was a bit swollen as a result. This seemed consistent with what we thought was in the glass. Of course, some drinkers may call this wine “subtle,” but we thought it was overly so. It was “too wet” if that makes any sense. The food seemed too much for it, but it didn’t perform as well without the food. If I had to compare this wine to another one that may be familiar to some Wooters: In style, this pinot reminds me a little bit of the ’06 Roessler La Encantada Santa Rita, but, if I remember correctly, the Roessler was more expressive.
3rd Course: “Finishing Off the Bottle with a Cupcake”
A Gourmet Blackberry Cupcake, Origin Unknown.
Comments on Wine: We don’t often think of pairing pinot noir with either fruit or sweets, but this turned out, to our surprise, to be a successful pairing. After a full 90 minutes in the decanter, the final glass showed its best. My wife picked up some hints of meat, not bacon, but maybe some unseasoned smoked pork or a crock-pot brisket. I thought I picked up some black licorice gum too. It would have been nice for us to save a taste for the next day, given that the last glass was the best. But we didn’t do so.
Final Thoughts: “The Verdict”
We were very excited to have been picked to review the 2007 Torii Mor Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Select. We’ve been ordering wine from Woot! since 2006, and this is our first time being asked to perform this important task. Thanks for the opportunity!
So, what’s the verdict? First, we admit that our personal taste for pinot noir leans towards mushrooms, smoked meats, damp dirt from under a bush, coffee, chocolate-covered black cherries, and even that cherry cola so often present in wine made near Santa Barbara. The ’07 Torii Mor Pinot Noir offered none of that. Is that a problem? No. But this wine is subtle to a fault: so much so that we found that it lacked complexity and flavor. Maybe it is asleep or in a “dumb phase.” It appeared and tasted watery and diluted. That being said, for a very patient and open-minded drinker, this is an interesting wine to try, and I’m glad we did. It was an educational experience. For us, the style seems deliberate and it may in fact be a very nice example of how wine is impacted by weather during harvest.
While I won’t personally be ordering this wine from Woot!, it is an eminently drinkable wine. There is nothing offensive or “off” in its flavor. If you have the patience to decant it for several hours, you may be rewarded more so than we were. It would also be interesting to open this alongside a pinot noir of the same vintage and at the same price point from California to study the differences. I wish I had done so with a bottle of ’07 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir sitting in our cellar. That would have been fascinating!
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