A couple of blog posts back, I wrote about visiting Oregon’s wine country in just over a week. Tonight I opened a bottle of Lange Winery Pinot Noir and it brought back memories of last summer.

I visited the Willamette (rhymes with dammit) Valley which has become home of some of the best Pinot in the world. As noted in that posting, these wines are outside the range of the normal under $20-25 wines I generally write about. But I think it’s important to talk about the next level once in awhile as well.

I brought back three bottles of Pinot from Lange mostly because of a fun book I read by Brian Doyle. Doyle spent a year following the wine making process and learning all about it. “The Grail: A year ambling & shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world.” A long title, but a great book.

Doyle wrote several pieces for the soon-to-be-released Winter Issue of Wabash Magazine. He has a simple and direct writing style that is as approachable as Lange’s wines.

He spent his year at Lange Winery. I visited Lange last July and intend on going back next week. Tonight I wanted to open one of my Oregon Pinots to judge how they had improved with nearly a year of storage. The Lange 2006 Reserve was still young but a beautiful wine.

The most impressive thing about this wine is how wonderfully balanced it is with a clarity, nice fruit, and beautiful finish. Now I did give it some time to breathe before pouring and did a lot of swishing around in the glass to open up this really nice Pinot Noir.

The wine was a modest 13.5 percent alcohol that is aged 10 months in French Oak.

The Lange family made 2500 cases of this particular wine and the handcrafted nature shows through in every sip. It’s just a great wine that’s approachable for most people at $32.

Oregon’s Pinot is not cheap. And frankly, the $32 Lange wine I enjoyed this evening is about as low as you’ll find. They do make another at the $24 price point that was out of stock when I visited the winery.

I scratch my head over last summer’s visit and the incredible wines at every stop. I’m really anxious to return. I didn’t taste one bad Pinot in about nine winery visits.

I’ll be blogging April 8 and 9 about my visits. So as I usually recommend, if you don’t find Lange wines at your wine shop I suggest you look for Willamette Valley wines if you’re shopping for great Pinot. I would strongly suggest you try any from the Dundee Hills region. It’s really great, great wine!

Another beautiful thing about this finicky grape is that the wine goes well with most any food.

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