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Red Rehab to Relapse

Denison Label
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Musings from the West Side Wine Store

(from one of my previous jobs, yet also my favorite with so many good memories)

About a year ago I realized I was utterly “burned-out” on pinot noir. For some people, this happens and is an understandable palate change on our wine tasting journey. However, for someone working in the wine industry, living smack-dab in the epicenter of Willamette Valley pinot noir country, this was a travesty. I mean, for goodness sake, about a third of our reds at the wine shop are pinot noir because of all the local wineries who harvest the grape. I was backwards. My palate needed help.

I went into rehab (of the wine sort) to get me turned back on to reds. So I spent some time timidly trying out the heftier red wines of our northwest region, and even foreign vintages, delving deeper into the fuller and richer, darker and heavier reds that I couldn’t “handle” during my year-long pinot noir love-affair. I welcomed the change, and appreciated that my nose, tongue, and stomach didn’t reject the more complex reds as before. And I settled into a happy, red routine once more.

Until Tim Wilson came along.

I had moved on from my monogamous relationship with pinot noir. I was thoroughly enjoying my romp with various reds from around the world, and I wasn’t about to relapse into another liaison with those medium-bodied, wanting wines. But the label was so pretty. Oh, but it wasn’t just the classy, handsome label. Randy had me try it. Wise oenophile that he is (and my boss), I figured the $38 pinot noir must have something going for it. So I swirled and sipped…

And swooned. (You know that part in Ratatouille where the fireworks happen because something tasted so painfully delightful? Yeah. I had that. A lot of that.)

Oh, Denison Cellars Pinot Noir! Where have you been all my life?! Just a hop, skip, and a jump away, apparently. Tim Wilson, owner and winemaker for Denison Cellars, uses grapes grown by the Kiff family in the Yamhill-Carlton area, a matter of miles from where he and his family reside in McMinnville.

Initially a graduate of economics, Tim Wilson managed to surprise us all here at West Side Wine (and our surrounding community) with a 2009 Pinot Noir, whose inaugural vintage rivaled even the best 2006 and 2008 pinots I had the pleasure of drinking over a year ago. And, as most Willamette wine lovers know, the year 2009 wasn’t expected to produce anything as superb as its predecessors. But there I sat. Mind blown. Happy belly. Wanting more.

I’m thrilled to have one of the 2009 pinots for a special vacation this weekend. Now sold out, it’s something I’ve been hanging on to for a while now. Fruit-forward and full in the mouth, mature tannins, savory dark fruit and some hints of spice, and smoooooth on the finish. Easy to drink with or without food, too. I’m absolutely giddy about popping this rarity.

Although fresh out of 2009, don’t be discouraged: Tim just released his second vintage, the 2010 Pinot Noir from Kiff Vineyard, which blew my hair back just as much as the first vintage. So drinkable now, yet undeniably better as it ages. I immediately bought two, and continue to eye the ones on the wine shop shelf while my mouth waters longingly. You may have been one of the fortunate few to have experienced this most recent release at West Side Wine Store’s Open House on August 28th, where Tim was kind enough to pour his pinot noir, along with his first rosé and pinot gris. All delicious. His 2010 Pinot Noir just earned 91 points from the Wine Industry Insider (published by the Wine Spectator). No wimpy pinot here, folks. Man’s got skills.

Needless to say, Tim Wilson converted me. Converted me back to pinot noir, that is. (There are worse relapses to have, so I’m not embarrassed to admit it.) Nothing else compares to what Tim has going for his wine. Not to say that all other pinot noirs are “bad” and to “not drink anything but Denison”, but that’s what my palate likes. Everyone is different, thank goodness, and we’re all free to drink what we love. As for me, I’m more than happy to represent a local friend and winemaker on my travels this weekend, shamelessly flaunting my treasured bottles of 2009 and 2010 Denison Pinot Noir wherever I go.

(Denison Cellars is sold exclusively at West Side Wine Store for the Salem area. More information about Tim Wilson and Denison Cellars can be found at

♣♣♣♣♣ 5/5

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One Comment

  1. Kelcie Grace Kelcie Grace

    Oh man Max and I just went wine tasting in Dundee and we definitely got pinot-ed out!I feel you! Great post can’t wait to try this one.

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