This post considers a:
Lange 2008 “Willamette Valley” Pinot Noir ($24)
Syncline 2008 “Columbia Gorge” Pinot Noir ($28).
Here’s the quick bottom line: these are quite similar medium-bodied pinots with relatively high acidity and no harsh tannins. They are better with food than without and probably should be purchased for near-term consumption rather than for cellaring. Neither has any obvious flaws and both are thus Worth Considering. But of the two, the Lange is the better bargain.
If you are used to Pacific Northwest pinots that are just a bit sweet (or even more than just a bit), these wines lean in the other direction. Both are actually a little tart.
Both also benefitted from exposure to oxygen so either open them a couple of hours before you plan to serve the wine or decant them. Both also held up very well over a two-day period when the partially consumed bottles were resealed with their original cap or stopper so there is no need to consume an entire bottle at one sitting.
The Lange offering is a blend made from grapes grown in various vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It has an attractive, reasonably complex bouquet featuring a hint of earth and a touch of spice that opens up with exposure to air so don’t hesitate to swirl this one around in your glass.
On the palate, the Lange pinot leans in the direction of red fruit, but some darker, even slightly woody flavors are there as well. The finish is pleasant, but has a bit of a citric kick to it which is unusual in an Oregon pinot noir.
The Syncline offering, which is made from grapes grown in Washington State’s portion of the Columbia Gorge (part of this appellation lies across the river in Oregon) has a nice bouquet that is a bit more fruity in nature than that of the Lange. It, too, needs exposure to oxygen to fully blossom.
Like the Lange, the Syncline is medium-bodied, contains no harsh tannins and features fairly pronounced acidity.
On the palate, the Syncline pinot is raspberry/cherry focused, but those flavors are usefully offset by some non-fruit flavors including a hint of cedar. The finish is light, but pleasant and just a touch spicy.
Syncline says it expects that its 2008 pinot noir will “really shine” after three to five years in the bottle and while I’m a bit skeptical, fans of this winery should consider putting a few bottles in their cellars to put that theory to the test. I would recommend drinking one every 12 months or so to see how matters are progressing.
I’ve tried Syncline pinots over the past three or four years and I think this one is the best so far.
For the record, the Lange checks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume while the Syncline is listed as being 13.6%. Those are relatively attractive numbers.