De Ponte Cellars Review
Address: 17545 Archery Summit Rd. Dayton,Oregon 97114.
Phone Number: 503-864-3698
Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Dundee Hills AVA, Oregon
Reviewer: Rob Boss
Review Date: 5/18/2012
Reviewer: Rob Boss
Perched inconspicuously on a hill in the Dundee Hillshidden among the opulent operations of Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Sereneis De Ponte Cellars, who have been quietly producing some of the best wine in the Willamette Valley for over a decade. Its easy to make the mistake of passing them by on the way to the more flamboyant press darlings, but to do so is to overlook one of Pinot Noir‘s most elegant and gracious representatives. In fact, in the world of overblown ripoffs or even understated bargains in the Valley, De Ponte is a steal.
Thats not to say the place is rustic because it most certainly is not. The De Ponte grounds are beautifully landscaped, the tasting room is elegant and inviting, and the patio is fabulous. The staff leads visitors through a lighthearted tasting full of menu/time/place/guest selections of the wines. They know their stuff and they want to know you. Its a very welcoming place, with stellar, world class wine.
Melon de Bourgogne is the tart, crisp white grape from which Muscadet is made (Muscadet being an area, not a grape). De Ponte planted it on their property and the result is a delicious summer wine full of melons, honeysuckle, tart citrus and star fruit flavors. The 2011 Melon is perfect for salads and other warm weather fare, but pleasant to drink on its own.
Even easier to drink was the 2011 Rose. Simple, perhaps but the strawberries in the nose and palette were beguiling.
Theres a pervasive element of good times at De Ponte. Pouring the 2010 Clay Hill Willamette Valley, our tasting room guide said, This is the school night wine, before introducing us to a new enological term: the cellar buffer. Its what we drink when we dont want to get into our really expensive stuff. Still, the nose full of briar, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, the nice cherry and raspberry flavors, and the remarkably beautiful ruby color seemed awfully rich for the price point.
2009 has not been a finesse filled vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir. The bright red fruit flavors are accessible and will bring in many new drinkers from competing varietals (Cabernet drinkers, for one); the vintage has been maligned for its broad brush strokes. De Pontes 2009 Dundee Hills is better than any 09 Ive tasted. While it shows big, crushed fruit in the nose and bold, vibrant flavors, theres a focus and definition that other wines of the vintage have not had. The cherries, raspberries, strawberriesindeed, all things redare intense but theyre polished, pretty and distinct.
More of a classic beauty, the 2010 Dundee Hills showed much the same profile as the 2009. But it was more shy and tightly wound. The elegance and refinement that kept the delicate, silky cherry on a reign will loosen up over time. This one will grow up prettier than the 2009 but it still needs some time, whereas the 2009 is ready to drink now. Right now. A lot.
Its always hard to leave a place like this, and actually, you dont have to: De Ponte Cellars Vineyard Retreat is an enormous, 4500 square foot guest house. Like everything else, its well appointed and gorgeous. It might be hard to leave the grounds for more tasting, but its a great place to come back and end the day, and stay for a weekend. In fact, its easy to come back to De Pont Cellars, over and over again.