Bottle Notes, Buying Wine, Pinot Noir

Thomas Winery: The Best Pinot Noir You Have Never Heard Of

One of the most collectible Pinot Noirs made in all of Oregon is from a winery you’ve probably never heard of: Thomas Winery. Located in Carlton, Oregon, winemaker John Thomas has been releasing small amounts of wine from the Thomas Vineyard since 1988. I don’t recall ever seeing ratings from the Wine Advocate or the Wine Spectator, and I don’t think Thomas has ever hosted a public event. It truly is an undiscovered gem.

The Thomas Winery is a one man show: John Thomas tends the vineyard, makes the wine, runs the mailing list and answers the phones. If you want to get on the mailing list you need to send John a letter (they don’t have a website) and he’s understanding if you need to pass on an allocation. Last Fall the mailer included the note: “If you’d like to pass on ordering this year but wish to remain on the mailing list for future vintages, please enclose a loincloth-clad photo (knife between teeth optional) in the return envelope.” It’s refreshing to see a winery not taking itself too seriously these days!

The wine itself is exquisite, and the bottle of 2004 Pinot Noir opened by the Zinfandel Chronicles team was no exception:

Brick red in color. Almost translucent. 13.4% ABV. Aromas of cherry and earth. Lithe and silky. Earth, tea, rhubarb, cranberry, bing cherry and mushroom on the palate. The wine gains complexity and weight with time in the glass. Drink over the next 1-3 years. A success from a difficult vintage.

My rating: 92 points.

Thomas Pinot Noir makes a brief appearance at Portland-area shops soon after release, and is priced right around $45 per bottle. I’ve had the opportunity to taste bottlings going back to the late 90’s, and think the wine shows best 7-10 years past the vintage date. You may still be able to secure a few bottles of the recently released 2011.

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