Pinot Noir is produced in almost every region around the world, but it can be difficult to find a bottle that really delivers. It would be a mistake, though, to dismiss all Pinot Noir iterations as rote or predictable. A few regions stand above the rest, such as Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Its wines, including the Grochau Cellars “Commuter Cuvée” Pinot Noir, are always solid.
The cool, maritime Willamette Valley, which stretches south from the city of Portland, is known for making a style of Pinot Noir that falls somewhat between that of Burgundy and California. It is more richly fruited than the former but more structured and earthier than the latter. Within the Willamette Valley, however, there are actually quite a few different mesoclimates that produce different styles of Pinot Noir, which is why the region is divided into six different sub-appellations as well.
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The sustainably farmed Commuter Cuvée is the epitome of classic Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The nose is slightly confected but fresh, with concentrated cherry-cola-like aromas supplemented by notes of mint, cinnamon, and red flowers. Plentiful earth also comes through, showing as rich, dark, wet soil. There is definitely some weight to the palate, and it’s much spicier than the nose, with a sweet baking spice finish that envelops the lush fruit, lingering in a comforting way. If that weren’t enough to make this a go-to bottle of Pinot Noir, there’s also a charitable component at work here; a portion of the proceeds of each bottle of Commuter Cuvée goes to No Kid Hungry. How’s that for responsible drinking?