Elin’s Wine Pick: 2011 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir

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in: Drinking

Elin Wine Pick Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir

In recent years, Oregon Pinot Noirs have become awfully expensive, with some
topping $100 a bottle. So I was delighted to sample the more-affordable 2011 Ponzi
Tavola Pinot Noir, with its spicy cherry flavors, silky texture and bright savory notes on
the finish.

Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week


2011 Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Pinot Noir

Price: $24

Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 13.3%

Serve with: Roast chicken, mushroom ragout

While this fruit-forward, juicy, recently released red isn’t layered or complex,
it is a gulpable everyday wine that wonderfully complemented a simple dinner of roast
chicken with tarragon, earthy mushroom ragout, and creamy polenta.

Dick and Nancy Ponzi founded the winery 40 years ago. Part of the wave of
pioneers on a quest to produce great Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, they helped
start one of the world’s best wine events, the International Pinot Noir Celebration,
founded a culinary center and wine bar showcasing top Oregon vintners in Dundee, and
even established the state’s first craft brewery.

The second generation is now running things. (Brother Michael bowed out this
year to pursue songwriting.) Luisa, who apprenticed at famed Domaine Roumier in
Burgundy, became winemaker in 1993. She’s always had a delicate touch with Pinot Noir
that some might deem “feminine.” Her aims are classic balance and elegant textures –
both evident even in this entry-level wine.

A Pinot Noir graced by a ‘miracle’ of sun

Ponzi makes half a dozen Pinot Noirs, including an impressive $100 single
vineyard bottling, and first introduced the Tavola in 2003. (“Tavola” means “table” in Italian.)
Vintage 2011 wasn’t a slam dunk. The season was late, and in the last part of August
Ponzi was still wondering whether the grapes would even ripen. As often seems to
happen in cooler wine regions, a “miracle” of sun in October saved the day. Picking was
the latest ever, into the middle of November! The result is wines with lovely intensity of
fruit, combined with very reasonable alcohol levels.

Though their 120 acres of vineyards aren’t farmed organically, the Ponzis are
serious about sustainable winemaking. The new winery, built in 2008, uses solar panels
to provide energy and a reflective metal roof to help maintain cool temperatures in the
cellar. The non-irrigated vineyards and winery are certified LIVE (low input viticulture
and enology), which means a commitment to using non-chemical approaches to weed and
insect control.

All this, and the wines are delicious, too. Drinking the Tavola Pinot Noir is a good
introduction.

Top photo composite:

2011 Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Pinot Noir label and bottle. Credit: Courtesy of Ponzi Vineyards

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