Saturday, July 14, 2012

King Estate Winery – A Pinot Noir Heaven in Eugene, Oregon


On the second day of my trip to Oregon I left the Applegate Valley and headed further north on I-5 to the southern end of the Willamette Valley. I then headed southwest of Eugene Oregon to the community of Loraine. My one and only stop that day was at King Estate Winery where I toured the facility and tasted some absolutely spectacular wines. 

--> The King Estate Winery was founded by Ed King, Jr. and his son, Ed King III. The family winery has been producing wine for over two decades southwest of Eugene, Oregon. They are dedicated to certified organic and sustainable farming methods and they specialize in producing Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir as well as a small amount of Chardonnay.

King Estate is the largest production winery in Oregon and is one of the most beautiful as well. The hill top winery has stunning views of the valley below as it is perched on top of a hill overlooking 1,033 acres which includes 470 acres of organic vineyards as well as 30 acres of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The architecture of the winery and restaurant is designed in a French style but some of aspects of it remind me of the Spanish California Missions as well. King Estate provides a fascinating tour of their facilities in which you’ll walk amongst their towering stainless steel tanks and smell the “angel’s portion” of wine in the barrel room.

While visiting I did a tour of the winery and then sampled the following wines:

The first wine was the 2011 Acrobat Pinot Gris. This wine has aromas of granny smith apples and lemons, on the palate it is somewhat tart with a hint of minerality with crisp and refreshing medium (+) acidity followed by a lingering medium (+) length finish. This wine is an excellent value at $12 a bottle.
The second wine was the 2011 Signature Pinot Gris. This wine is similar to the Acrobat Pinot Gris in fruit profile, crispness and acidity but it is not as austere or tart and it has a rounder mouth feel with a very long finish. It is an excellent wine for only $17 a bottle.

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I then tasted a number of Rosés side by side:

The first was the 2011 Luminous Pinot Gris Rosé.  This wine is light pink in color with aromas of watermelon and rose water followed on the palate with refreshing medium (+) acidity, and a lengthy finish that has a hint of spice. A beautiful wine for $21 a bottle

The second was the 2011 Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir which is very similar to the previous wine but displays additional hints of strawberries and cranberries. Surprisingly this wine sells for only $15 a bottle.

The third was the 2011 Signature Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, a Rosé wine that is slightly darker than the previous two wines, salmon pink, is more fruit forward on the nose and on the palate is seemingly off-dry, less tart and additional aromas of watermelon candy and cotton candy (without the intense sugary sweetness). Of the three Rosés this one was my favorite, it sells for $18 a bottle. 

I then sampled side by side two Pinot Noirs from the Acrobat line:

The first was the 2008 Acrobat Pinot Noir. This wine displays a classic Pinot Noir fruit profile of black cherries, subtle earthy notes followed by cola. On the palate it has medium intensity, bright acidity and a medium length finish. This wine is an absolute steal at only $20 a bottle. This is a classic vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir and you will NOT find a California Pinot with this profile in this price range. I brought three of them home.

The second as the 2010 Acrobat Pinot Noir. This wine is similar to the ’08 but with additional hints of smoke and crispy bacon. A great wine for only $20, I brought six of them home.

Following the Acrobat line, I tasted the 2007, 2009 and 2010 from the Signature series side by side. They each sell for $29 a bottle. Generally, the profile of these wines is similar to the Acrobat series except they have greater intensity of aromas, flavors and a longer finish and the 2010 has great aromas of bacon fat. So you’re paying $9 for the extra “Wow!” factor and it is well worth it! I have never found a Pinot in California of this quality at this price range. I bought three of the 2010 vintage.

My final side by side tasting was three Pinot Noirs that were the crème de la crème! These wines are a major step up in quality and price from the previous wines and are sourced from a single block of the vineyard.

The first was the 2009 Domaine Pinot Noir Block 4A. This wine was somewhat subdued at first on the nose, but given some time in the glass and a lot of swirling this is a very complex and multilayered wine that needs time in the glass to fully open. On the nose and palate it has layers of root beer, raspberry, sour cherry, and plums and the acidity, tannin and body of this palate is extremely well balanced and the flavors come together harmoniously. This wine is a bit pricey at $60 a bottle.

The second wine in the final side by side comparison was the 2009 Domaine Pinot Noir Block 4AC. This wine has subtle nuances that distinguish it from the previous, the key differences are more strawberry notes, more acidity, a slightly creamier nose and it is slightly more pronounced and focused on the mid palate. A superb wine, I brought one home for $60 a bottle.

My final wine was the 2010 Pfeiffer Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine are sourced from Pfeiffer Vineyard (which I visited the following day). The profile of this wine is radically different from the previous, it is more earthy, almost stinky, with notes of barnyard, tar, burnt rubber tire, followed by black cherries, spice, cola, and a lot more smoke. To many, this wine may seem more Burgundian. It has medium acidity and a medium (+) length. This wine sells for $55 a bottle.

I was very impressed with the beauty, quality, value and the hospitality of King Estate Winery. The only thing I didn’t do was sample the menu in the restaurant, but I’ll be sure to do that on my next trip. So, if you are ever visiting the area, King Estate Winery is a “must visit”!

To see more pictures, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

To visit or for more information:

King Estate Winery
80854 Territorial Highway 
Eugene, Oregon 97405
Phone: 1-541-942-9874

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