Willamette's White Rose Estate
By Jordan Carrier
There are more opinions out there on Pinot Noir than the Oxford comma (on which I don’t personally have a stance - pro, con or otherwise). Many New World Pinot-fans seek body and purity of fruit, dismissing the more subtle, earthen notes of Euro-Pinot as “Old Sock” (one of the more popular and curious descriptors I’ve encountered – would they prefer New Sock?). Burgundy-philes reject Californian Pinots in particular as rooty-tooty pancake syrup, placing greater value on the light-to-medium layered textures, tannins and crisp acidity (they would call it Freshness) found in traditional bottlings. Brothers and sisters, can we get along?
Yep, over a glass of White Rose.
There is bold fruit here, balanced among the flowers and spices, further amplified by the whole-cluster pressings that they’re famous for. In the glass, though, it looks and acts like Pinot, unapologetically medium-bodied and racy (lower weight does not equal lower intensity, if unconvinced, see: Barolo). Tucked in behind Domaine Serene in the Dundee Hills, White Rose has tried to maintain a low profile while a cult built up around them; ultra-low yields (hence the intensity), super-gentle pressings (it’s more like a neck rub), natural yeast fermentation and neutral barrel aging – this method of winemaking couldn’t be less interventionist if it were performed by tree nymphs.
And they really don’t make much of it, we’re lucky to get any at all. I’m not sure why we get it at such a relatively low price either, but I don’t want to look too closely at it in case it’s a mistake.
White Rose Pinot Noir 2015
Cult Pinot at a mainstream price. One could be forgiven for calling this catch-all “Willamette” appellation bottling their “entry level” wine, but it doesn’t drink like one. Vibrant red fruits, singed herbs, cardamom, clove, orange peel. Medium bodied and zippy, focused and long, this is mega-happy-juice for well-informed patios. Sells for $40 USD at the winery. 5 cases available, $46.49 +tax
White Rose “Dundee Hills” Pinot Noir 2011Loved it so much last time, I brought it back. This is the sneaky, re-labelled wine the Americans call “The Neo-Classical Objective” that was imported into BC under the generic “Dundee Hills” label so that the Oregon peeps wouldn’t get mad about us getting it cheaper. Jeepers creepers, I love this sleeper vintage, I fell in love with the misunderstood 2011s when I was down there last summer. Like the unusually late harvest, these wines just needed more patience to start coming around. Now they’re around. Boy are they ever. Dried flowers, white pepper and allspice surround the bright raspberry and strawberry notes. Layers and layers on the palate, good fruit intensity, a very Burgundian lift just on the end. Sells (as “Neo-Classical”) for $80 USD at the winery. 6 6-packs available, $64.99 +tax