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Jenise

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WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by Jenise » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:23 pm

So a bunch of friends amiably gathered on Sunday to see whether or not Joe Wagner brand wines are as goopy as we think they are, a result of several people following the controversy over his manipulations being in flagrant violation of OR wine law, regardless of what is legal in California. So among a bunch of boutique Oregon producers, blind, would we be able to pick them out? Oh, let's throw in some CA wines, too. The wines were bagged in a back room by the hostess and given an alphabet letter identity. Some were put in decanters.

After the note taking, pre-reveal, four of us were tasked with determining which were most likely the Wagner wines and trying to match each to a product name. I identified most of the Wagner wines in the blind tasting but couldn't match up the wines to the wine names--since I don't drink them. There was remarkably little difference between the CA and OR origins.

Also, guests were asked to grab the bottles of 'favorites' so those were revealed first. As a group we all agreed pretty much on the top six or seven. No Wagner wines were favorites.

2016 Boen Wines Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
Extracted, black plum, toffee. Eh....

2016 Ayoub Pinot Noir Memoirs Dundee Hills
Tight, closed. All awkward end notes, no front or middle, just overt sweetness and acidity. Def not a Wagner though.

2014 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Dundee Hills
Very good, earthy, layered red fruits, has all the right stuff. A favorite.

2012 Colene Clemens Pinot Noir Margo Chehalem Mountains
Blind, was sure it was California, but it was very elegant and balanced--nothing Wagner about it.
Anyway, I brought this bottle: very interesting evolution from the dark monster it was three years ago. A favorite.

2016 Stoller Pinot Noir Reserve Dundee Hills
Obviously a baby; but classic OR character with sturdy plum fruit, Asian spice, forest floor, and a few violets on the nose. (Stoller's a winery I've only come to know recently, and I've been very impressed every time I've had one, this was no exception.)

2012 Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Willamette Valley
As another taster said, "Central Casting for Willamette Valley Pinot Noir."
Indeed, everything's here in perfect proportion. Captivating at this stage but should cellar another five years easy. Everybody's top favorite. (I brought it, and am proud to have the rest of a case.)

2017 Willametter Journal Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
More blue than red fruit, a lot of grip. California? Somewhat rustic. A Wagner wine, though the rusticity threw me off and I did not peg it for his.

2014 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Dairyman Russian River Valley
Over the top blueberries and black plum. Heavily extracted, inelegant. Boo hiss. Must be a Wagner.

2011 Noel Family Vineyard Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains
Full tertiary, obvious age. Tea flavors, orange rind, mushrooms, potpourri. More developed than it should be but welcome for being so different. Not many present recognized old pinot.

2016 Marshall Davis Pinot Noir Marshall Davis Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton
Good spice and balance with a brown sugar note that will be caramel down the road. For that reason it seemed Californian, though not in the Wagner ways.

2015 Elouan Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Reserve Oregon
Interesting. Very balanced initially but a lot sweeter, too sweet, on the second pass. Too sweet. Was on the fence about whether or not it was a Wagner.

2016 Elouan Pinot Noir Oregon
Unbalanced. Some tannins but no acidity. Very sweet, and it's simple sugar-sweet not fruit-sweet, with lots of viscosity. Tastes artificially pinot flavored in the way Orange Crush doesn't actually taste like oranges. Gotta be a Wagner.

2014 Willamette Valley Whole Cluster, Oregon
Pretty nose and on the palate. Balanced, clean and Oregonian.

2013 Patton Valley Winery West Block, Oregon
Peppery, excellent spice with plummy fruit and tomato skin. (I brought this.) A favorite.

2017 Tuli Pinot Noir Sonoma County
Blueberry notes, smooth like a milkshake. Probably a Wagner.

2015 Citation Pinot Noir Oregon
Sweet fruit, a bit overextracted with some annoying vanilla notes but overall shows well enough for Oregon, non-Wagner.

2009 Coelho Winery Pinot Noir Paciência Willamette Valley
Nasty, cooked flavors.

2014 Welsh Famiy Wines Pinot Noir Robinson Vineyard Eola - Amity Hills
Good bones but at present very tannic, grippy. Needs more time.

2016 Blue Grouse Pinot Noir Quill Vancouver Island
Taupe-y color, cherry and raspberry fruit, herbaceous/tomato leaf, thyme, great balance and palate presence. A favorite.

2015 Erath Pinot Noir Oregon
Just okay. Vit B nose, herb and raspberry fruit, light body.

2015 Elouan Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Reserve Oregon
Big, extracted and purple with evident alcohol and vanilla. Must be a Wagner.

2011 Siltstone Wines Pinot Noir Guadalupe Vineyard Dundee Hills
Authentic, red fruit with bright acidity, dried thyme. Complex and evolved. A favorite.

What did I learn? Well, that Elouan wines (which I've avoided) are just what I thought they'd be. With one exception the Wagners stood out as much as one would hope they would.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by Brian K Miller » Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:03 pm

Sounds like the Wagners are to Pinot what the Wilsons are to Zinfandel (and other hot climate grapes). Avoidable.
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by Jenise » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:20 am

They play to neophyte tastes. Goopy, extracted, sweeter, low acid, and they are suspected of liberally using MegaPurple and other flavoring additives for consistency.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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kasey.dubler

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Re: WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by kasey.dubler » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:35 am

The first time I tasted an Elouan wine was blind and my exact response was, "taste like Meiomi"

They have a style and they stick to it, not even mad at them for it. I just know to avoid
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Re: WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by Jenise » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:58 am

Kasey, I remember the California Wagners, both Meiomi and Belle Glos, for tasting like strawberry milkshakes and was surprised these didn't. But obviously, they were outliers nonetheless.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Hoke

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Re: WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by Hoke » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:49 pm

As you can well imagine, Wagner is largely persona non grata here in Oregon. Partly for the attempt to claiming/implying these were true Pinot wines from the Willamette Valley, partly for the attempt to homogenize (and therefore eliminate) the fingerprint of Oregon, and partly because his vindictive response to cancel his Oregon contracts right at harvest time---oddly enough, affecting the Rogue River Valley AVA more than the Willamette--- and partly because he's been such a dick overall.

So thanks for the blind tasting review. Interesting that you had basically a small area of the Willamette showing (Chelalem-Yamhill/Carlton, Dundee Hills), but you still made your point crystal clear. So thanks.

Couple of comments:
Give Ayoub a little time, I suspect that should firm up, lose the baby fat, and become more impressive.

Stoller? Hell yeah. Also Cristom. Add Cameron. JK Carriere,

For you specifically: Lavinea (Currently Temperance Hill and Tualatin Valley SV 2016), Domaine Divio (!!!!). Chardonnay and Pinot from both are topnotch.

Also, our mutual wine friend, Vincent Frisch, is making some killer pinots under the Vincent label. Snag some if you can.
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Joe Wagner vs. the (Oregon) Volcano

by Jenise » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:01 pm

Hoke wrote:As you can well imagine, Wagner is largely persona non grata here in Oregon. Partly for the attempt to claiming/implying these were true Pinot wines from the Willamette Valley, partly for the attempt to homogenize (and therefore eliminate) the fingerprint of Oregon, and partly because his vindictive response to cancel his Oregon contracts right at harvest time---oddly enough, affecting the Rogue River Valley AVA more than the Willamette--- and partly because he's been such a dick overall.

So thanks for the blind tasting review. Interesting that you had basically a small area of the Willamette showing (Chelalem-Yamhill/Carlton, Dundee Hills), but you still made your point crystal clear. So thanks.

Couple of comments:
Give Ayoub a little time, I suspect that should firm up, lose the baby fat, and become more impressive.

Stoller? Hell yeah. Also Cristom. Add Cameron. JK Carriere,

For you specifically: Lavinea (Currently Temperance Hill and Tualatin Valley SV 2016), Domaine Divio (!!!!). Chardonnay and Pinot from both are topnotch.

Also, our mutual wine friend, Vincent Frisch, is making some killer pinots under the Vincent label. Snag some if you can.


There were around 20 people in attendance here. I brought the Cristom, the Colene Clemons, the Patton Valley and a Maysara sparkling pinot for a starter. I know the hostess threw in five. On reflection, some must have shown up empty handed since she and I accounted for so many. Speaking of Vince, I DO have his wines. Got on the list this year. But they'd just arrived and I decided not to risk showing a shocked bottle. A little concerned about wasting wine on less experienced guests, I also pulled back my one and only '13 Ayoub Estate which I've been patiently waiting to die over, and a legendary Thomas. For host Amber (blogger, Spitbucket) and her wife Beth, I'd pour anything; just wasn't sure about everyone else.

Thanks for the reccos.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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