There is something silky about the finest Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. It is softer and rounder than its Burgundian counterpart, but it still manages that wonderful delicacy which makes the variety produce the most delicious wine. Tony Soter knows a thing or too about winemaking. Originally from Oregon, he made a name for himself down in the Napa founding Etude in the early 1980s and eventually working as a consultant at a variety of places in the valley including Araujo, Neibaum-Coppola and Shafer.
Discussing vibrant attractive Pinot Noir leads me neatly into Oregon’s Willamette Valley. A delightful bunch were on offer last week at the fair. Three estates new to me stood out – Brooks Wine, Anne Amie and Soter Vineyards. All produced lovely Pinots across the board. More on Anne Aie and Soter later as the story behind Brooks deserves a post to itself. I doubt you’ll find a more powerful or inspirational tale in the world of wine.
This year the London International Wine Fair celebrates its 30th birthday. For a number of years the event has been held at the ExCel centre in London’s docklands – a vast aircraft hanger of a place en route to Beckton deep in London’s once industrial East End. It’s a well organised event, and impressive in scale – the UK wine trade’s version of the Birmingham Motor show – but it’s also an alarmingly tricky place to taste wine. It must be something to do with the multitude distractions, the thousands of people or the weird lighting that makes it a tough job for even the finest wine to sing in this setting. That said there were a number that looked good on the first day here.