Winemaker Tony Soter is a member of that rare club that has made both exceptional cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. I’ve always thought that the approach that each of these varieties requires is so diverse that it makes it difficult to find winemakers that can handle both with equal dexterity. Tony has proved over-and-over again that he can cross that bridge with style. Having known Tony and his wines for several decades now, since he made wines at Spottswoode, I think there is a “Soter-icity” in his wines that have made both him and his wines so successful and respected. The key elements to the Soter style are elegance, un-amplified vineyard character and balance.
For many years Tony has divided his attention between his projects in California and Oregon, but last year he and his family made the trek north on a permanent basis and officially set up housekeeping in Oregon full time. Fortunately for us, his winery in Oregon, Soter Vineyards has been slowly increasing production and more people will be able to enjoy these lovely wines made by Tony and his winemaker James Cahill. However, make no mistake, this is still a very small winery and many releases are essentially sold only on their website.
Their two new releases of pinot noir are the main focus of their production, full of Soter-icity and should be available in most major markets. It’s worth pointing out that both of these wines are under 14% alcohol, which unfortunately has been less common in Oregon lately. They are well worth seeking out.
- 2006 Soter, North Valley Pinot Noir - a relatively new wine for Soter that debuted with the 2004 vintage and they decided to keep. Crafted from a blend of estate and purchased fruit the North Valley delivers the Soter style at a more moderate price and in slightly larger quantities. Typical of the 2006 vintage, the North Valley is forward and fruity with bright touches of cassis and wild blackberries on the nose and on the palate. Graciously silky from start to finish those that like their pinot velvety will be well satisfied. It’ll be better next year, but why wait? (Find online)
- 2005 Soter, Mineral Springs Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District - The Yamhill-Calrton District is proving to be home to vineyards capable of producing rich, voluptuous wines of great character, Shea Vineyard being the most famous example. The Mineral Springs section of that AVA is the leg sticking down on the right if you’re looking north and is an area to watch. Soter’s young Mineral Springs Vineyard, situated high on a hill with a spectacular view of the Coast Range, has all the potential to be a great vineyard, which you will understand when you taste this very fine pinot noir. The color is a rich ruby that is just translucent. On the nose expansive aromas of wild strawberries mix with black raspberries, vanilla and black truffles. The tannins in the finish are wonderful for their silky, but firm character that bodes well for those with the patience to age. A perfect example of Soter-icity. (Find online)
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