Passionate about Pinot

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Contrast: There are some stylistic differences between the 2009 and 2010 Pinot Noirs from Stoller Family Estates. | Supplied photo

Explore the rolling landscape of Dundee Hills in Oregon, one of Willamette Valley’s six American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), and you will discover more than the geology. What makes this region unique is the dedicated and enterprising families who are committed to pursuing the perfection of Pinot Noir. One such recognized figure is Bill Stoller of Stoller Family Estate.

Quiet, resolute and passionate about Pinot Noir, Bill grew up near Yamhill Valley, Oregon, spending his childhood on his family’s turkey farm. He left to pursue a successful career as founder and vice chairman of an employment staffing firm, Express Employment Professionals (EEP), and CEO and founder of Xenium. Wanting to return to his origins, and realizing the unique potential of Oregon’s land, he returned to his roots, becoming co-owner of famed Chehalem Winery with Harry Peterson-Nedry in 1993.

In the same year, he purchased a 373-acre turkey farm from his father and uncle where he would establish Stoller Vineyards. Bill recognized that his property of southern facing slopes with well-drained rocky Basalt bedrock, referred to as Jory soils, would be conducive for cultivating Pinot Noir and he went about planting this vineyard with the assistance of Nedry. His first vintage was released in 2001 and five years later he opened North America’s first LEED-gold certified sustainable and solar-powered winery. With the talents of Melissa Burr as winemaker, and Rob Schultz as vineyard manager, Bill is placing his signature on Pinot Noir grown in the Dundee Hills of Oregon.

Stoller Family Estate rests at an elevation range of 220 - 600 feet with 190 acres under vine; 120 acres are planted to Pinot Noir and 50 acres to Chardonnay, along with a token amount of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, etc. Currently Stoller produces a more approachable junior vine “JV” designated bottling of Pinot Noir along with a Senior Vine ”SV” Reserve designated Pinot Noir from the best vineyard blocks on the estate.

An interesting comparison is tasting the 2009 and recently released 2010 Reserve Estate Pinot Noir side by side. Mother Nature carefully carved out a stylistic difference between these two wines. The 2009 Stoller Family Estate SV Pinot Noir has a more classic Dundee Hills expression with a heady strawberry spice component, a creamy mid-palate and some candied notes in the finish. The lower acids and supple tannins reveal more immediate drinkability. The 2010 Stoller Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir has a brooding opaque color and is built for long-term aging. The aromatics are complex with pronounced Asian spice and underbrush leading to a silky texture of framboise and minerals. The tannins are firm and youthful showing the future potential of this wine. Regardless of your vintage preference, your expectations and enjoyment of these Pinot’s will leave a lasting memory.

2009 Stoller Family Estate SV Pinot Noir: $44.99

2010 Stoller Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir: $44.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits. Email him at wphoyne@att.net.