When it comes to Oregon Pinot Noir, you’ll have no problem finding memorable wines if you’re willing to spend about $50 or so. But in these days of uncertainty, many of us will probably think twice about dropping that kind of cash on a bottle we haven’t tried before.
That’s why it’s worth considering Ponzi Vineyards’ 2017 “Tavola” Pinot Noir. This is what Ponzi calls its “table” (in Italian “tavola”) Pinot Noir, and while it may be the entry-level label from the famed Willamette Valley producer, it rises above the description.
With a suggested price of $27, it’s the least expensive wine in Ponzi’s Pinot Noir portfolio (other current releases range up to $100 or so). Still, it offers a good deal of complexity and a sense of place. Red berry notes, including cherry and cranberry, present themselves as the wine opens up — the fruit was still emerging a couple of days after I opened it, so this is definitely one to decant an hour or so before you serve it. There’s a good deal of herb, mineral, and earth in the mix as well.
Ponzi’s “Tavola” Pinot Noir is produced from grapes from Ponzi’s own vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains area of the Willamette Valley, and from other vineyards there and in the Yamhill-Carlton and Eola-Amity Hills AVAs.
With a chill, it’s an excellent wine for all kinds of grilled foods, from steak and lamb to chicken and salmon — all in all, a top Pinot Noir for summer drinking and beyond.
For those who like their Pinot Noirs on the more austere side, as is often the case with wines from Burgundy, for example, this one comes through. Alcohol is a modest 13.7 percent and the wine was aged for 11 months in French oak, just 20 percent of it new, so the oak influence is muted. With its screw cap, it’s clearly intended for current drinking but will benefit from a year or two in the cellar if you so choose.