Dude Alex

There is nothing better than enjoying great wines with great friends. I’ve written before, and even done a couple of videos, with my wine drinking buddies. We call ourselves “Dudes on the Porch.”

We started about a year and a half ago gathering every 2-4 weeks and drinking some wines. We graduated to theme nights and dinners. We are still doing it and still having just as much fun.

We recently enjoyed our holiday edition of ‘Dudes’ by planning a Pinot Noir night. We had an inexpensive Burgundy, a mid-priced Napa Pinot, and two Oregon Pinots.

We had a spread of some Italian meats, cheese, a great French goat cheese, crackers, and were about as wine geeky as we ever get.

Dude in Training – Cameron

In other words, we had a ball. I constantly encourage wine newcomers to get a group of friends together and drink some new wines, old favorites and just try things!

Let’s go through the four wines and I’ll share the group’s thoughts. I was having way too much fun to play journalist and take “quotes.” But, I did take enough notes to get a good handle on the group thinking about each of the four Pinot Noirs.

We don’t always agree but we ended up with pretty similar feelings about each of our Pinot Noirs. We had four of our five regular Dudes and a 22-year-old college senior who has joined us on a number of occasions.

Bouchard Pere & 2008 Reserve Bourgogne – This would fall into the category of a basic entry-level Burgundy. There was very little wrong with it just not enough right to give it a recommendation.

We opened it shortly before drinking and that was a mistake. The wine did improve the longer it was open. At times the wine just didn’t seem to have much going on – typical of bargain Burgundy. But with a little time we all detected some strawberry. It was very light bodied and a nice cherry red. There was little finish and not the spicy or earthy finish you’d get on many Pinot Noirs.

Dude Patrick brought this one and couldn’t remember exactly what he paid for it but knew it was around $15-$16. (Not Recommended)

Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir – We struggled with this wine more than any of the evening. It had a short decant and improved with all the oxygen it could absorb. Many will see the Beringer name and think only of the supermarket wines. But Beringer makes wines at other price points as well.

Dude Alex brought the Beringer. I found it online anywhere from $16-$24 – and that’s a pretty wide range for the same bottle of juice.

I thought the wine was disorganized. There was no mid-palate but all of us got pronounced oak on the finish – big oak. That is something many people are not going to like but others will appreciate the added structure. For my palate, the Beringer’s oak was just too much. I love oak in Cabs and big, big red wines but want my Pinot really well balanced.

Alex got big strawberry after about an hour of having the bottle open and we all agreed. It had all the hints of expected dark fruit but not much terroir or spice.

Still, this might be interesting in another year or so and with a longer decant, perhaps up to two hours. It wasn’t bad. It’s just not that hard to find better Pinot in that price range. (Recommended)


The Dudes are admitted Pinotphiles and big fans of Oregon Pinot Noir. So we had two great Oregon Pinots at a big price point that really sparked some of our best wine conversation in a long time. Patrick brought a 2008 Cooper Mountain Vineyard Pinot. I dug into my hidden stash of great Pinot and pulled out a 2008 Winderlea Vineyard Pinot from the Dundee Hills.

Cooper Mountain 2008 Mountain Terrior 5 Element Series – We all loved this wine. This is a big fruit-forward Pinot with a really soft finish. The guys were getting a hint of citrus off the mid-palate and back of the palate that was delightful as it was unique.

Patrick described his wine as a Pinot “with layers of dark fruit with a bit of a bite on the back with acid.” I can’t really disagree with that.

Cooper Mountain sits in the Willamette Valley but is one of the closest wineries to Portland in all of the region. This bottle retails around $45 normally but Patrick picked it up as part of a case discount for $36.

This is fruit-forward wonderful Pinot Noir. It’s certainly more widely distributed than the next wine. (Highly Recommended)

The setup for Pinot night!

Winderlea 2008 Winderlea Vineyard Pinot Noir – In the sense of full disclosure, this one of my consistent favorites. I have several favorites actually, but Winderlea is a wonderful story and marvelous wine.

The Winderlea Pinot is a $50 bottle of wine. Alex was the first to utter an opinion and offered “supple” as an adjective. Alex also called it understated.

I loved the floral notes and beautiful dark fruit and finish. This wine shows the terrior of the Dundee Hills … you can just taste that wonderful red dirt that makes these great wines. I gush about the Winderlea because I think it’s just that good.

The Dudes thought the perfect wine would be Cooper Mountian’s fruit forward style with Winderlea’s supple, spicy, and earthy finish. I’d like to taste that wine but for now, I’m glad there is more Winderlea in the wine cooler.

(Very Highly Recommended)

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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