Wine of the Week: 2016 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
by Peg Melnik
“At Thanksgiving, everyone is a chef with big opinions. Everyone knows the best way to concoct savory flavors –– whether to braise, sauté or puree. And those big opinions –– unwieldy and often confrontational –– show up on the table in extraordinary ways. Let’s put it this way: No one goes hungry when feasting on savory dishes. We have a full line-up of food-friendly pinot noirs that bring out the best in a Thanksgiving feast. But the standout was the Argyle, 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir at $27.
This pinot has dark fruit — blackberry and black cherry –– with a hint of red currant. It’s elegant with a purity of fruit. Buoyed by bright acidity, it’s layered with a meatiness and spice. ‘The 2016 vintage is one of the most savory,’ said Argyle winemaker Nate Klostermann. ‘It’s got a beautiful balance of freshness and acidity … the pinot will cut through turkey and meats and fats. It will also go well with cranberry and other vibrant dishes.’ The 2016 vintage was warm and dry during the summer. With little rain in September, the fruit had longer hang time. The Argyle grapes are groomed in three vineyards, and a couple of them have high altitude vines. These vines, in cooler temperatures, allow the grapes more time to develop. ‘We didn’t have Mother Nature telling us when to pick from the rain side of things,’ Klostermann said. ‘Yet there was still a condensed window of about three weeks in September when we wanted to get all the fruit in. If the fruit were to hang longer, it could lose its energy and vibrancy.’
Klostermann, 37, is a Midwesterner who studied at the University of Minnesota, graduating with a degree in Food Science in 2005. He became fascinated with fermentation while in college, beginning his odyssey with food, beer and then ultimately, with wine. ‘When I told my mother I was going to Oregon to make wine, she thought I was going to Oregon to drink wine,’ he said, with a laugh. Klostermann joined Argyle as a harvest intern in 2005, working his way up to winemaker in 2013. ‘My strength as a winemaker is that I make slow, methodical and scientific decisions,’ he said. ‘Being steady is my natural state. I don’t make knee-jerk decisions.’”