I'll second the welcome to winemaker Dan Rinke. I liked his voice note and agree that the Holy Grail of Pinot is the ineffable combination of elegance and restrained long-lived power that one finds in grand cru Burgundy.
A bottle of the 2009 Johan Nils Reserve Pinot Noir turned up and, on (what for some is) the Glorious Twelfth, received my attention, and that of SWMBO and my eldest daughter (aka D1), who has been tasting wine since her pre-teens.
All of us like Pinot Noir, especially good Burgundy, and have come to appreciate Oregon Pinot Noir equally with the better California Pinot Noirs from Carneros, Sonoma Coast and Russian River AVAs. None of are fans of the overripe, high alcohol style of some California Pinot Noir of recent years.
We waited about 15-20 minutes after opening the bottle, and pouring tasting amounts into glasses, before sampling.
We tasted and made our notes separately, without talking to each other. Then we discussed our impressions and the wine over dinner.
The color was crystal clear with little in the way of 'legs' - the first impression was that the body would be on the lighter side. D1 made no notes on the color; SWMBO thought it was slight 'yellow' around the edges, which I would have described more as 'brick'.
rpm: not strongly aromatic, perhaps faint cherries, with a slightly floral note (violets?), almost a little alcohol (surprising given the 12.7%) and something earthy, almost tarry (or was it tarweed?) in the back of the nose. Pleasant oveall.
SWMBO: simple, but classic Pinot nose. nice nose, but closed.
D1: small nose. perhaps currents with an undertone of caramel(?)
rpm: modest, Pinot flavors - earthy, rather than fruity. light body.
SWMBO: closed. Pinot.
D1: smooth entry
rpm: good firm middle for a light bodied wine. Cherry flavors towards the back of the mouth.
SWMBO: no specific note
D1: green pepper in the middle palate
rpm: mid-length, a nice mix of acid and tannin.
SWMBO: short finish
D1: cherry finish, but tannic.
[NB. In discussing, we thought this was the same thing I described as the back end of the middle palate.]
rpm: Definitely a food wine; it worked pretty well with the steak dinner we paired it with. It did not open up nearly as much as we would have liked/hoped. Nor did it show the complexity we look for in high end Pinot - which might be a result of the wine needing age or might not.
SWMBO: simple [NB: we have been drinking the 2009 Winter Hill, another Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with pleasure over the past several months. We happened to have half a bottle open from Thursday evening. SWMBO got a glass of it halfway through dinner and passed it around. The bright fruit Pinot aromas were much more pronounced. SWMBO strongly preferred the Winter Hill to the Johan.]
D1: wish there were more of a nose. Definitely needs food. slightly sour taste. lingering finish on the tongue is nice.
Consensus: Often one thinks of a wine as more than the sum of its parts; this one was in a way less. It didn't really 'gel' or 'knit' for us, though individual parts were nice. It didn't open significantly during the evening, or even the next day (there was a glass left). It seemed to us the rough equivalent of a simple Burgundy, the sort available from large negociant houses like Louis Latour. Now, to get Burgundian from Oregon (or California) is a complement. Perhaps we're hyper-critical (who me?), but we wanted more from this wine than we got. I probably liked it best of the three of us.