One of the historic Oregon wineries, Panther Creek was originally founded by famed winemaker Ken Wright in 1986. He gained national attention for his wines sourced from the Freedom Hill and Shea Vineyards. In 1994 Mark Vlossak of St. Innocent fame took over as consulting winemaker and produced some marvelous wines until he focused his talents on his own winery. The winery was acquired by Bacchus Capital in 2013 which led to the appointment of superstar winemaker Tony Rynders as consulting winemaker. This was a true game changing moment for Panther Creek as the quality of the wines immediately increased. In the last two years of releases I have seen a marked quality in the overall lineup as Rynders imparts his signature style that balances the tight rope between richness, texture and tension in the wines. The new wines are seriously good across the board. If you have not tried the Panther Creek lineup in years, these are definitely worth a look.
A downright killer value is the 2017 Panther Creek ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 91) which is a blend of great vineyards across the Willamette Valley and shows off a silky texture and wonderful minerality and ripeness. I absolutely loved the new 2016 Panther Creek ‘Kalita Vineyard’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 93) which has amazing earthy terroir and bright red fruits. Make sure to give this beauty some air before enjoying. Learn more about this outstanding producer of Oregon Pinot Noir at http://www.panthercreekcellars.com Here are the beautiful new wines by Panther Creek.
2017 Panther Creek ‘Willamette Valley’ Chardonnay- The 2017 ‘Willamette Valley’ Chardonnay is another great new wine from this storied Oregon winery. On the nose this shows toasty oak that wraps around orchard fruits and shades of kumquat that all connect in the glass. The palate has good freshness and a lovely, soft mouthfeel. Ripe pear and apple flavors lead the way on the palate, as this finishes very strong with vanilla cream. Enjoy this delicious wine over the next seven plus years. Drink 2019-2025- 90
2018 Panther Creek Chardonnay-Pinot Noir- The 2018 Chardonnay- Pinot Noir was entirely aged in stainless steel and is a sleek new release by the talented Tony Rynders. The aromatic expression is quite profound, ranging from melon tones to lemon zest and shades of salted Marcona almond that all give this a lifted presentation in the glass. The palate reveals a soft and silky mouthfeel, unveiling ripe cantaloupe, Pink Lady apple and Meyer lemon cream. Outstanding in its youth, this will evolve well for the next decade. Be sure to enjoy this at a warmer temperature for better aromatic and flavor range. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2017 Panther Creek ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ Pinot Noir- A blend of a host of Willamette Valley vineyards, the 2017 ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ is another silky Pinot Noir release from this Oregon winery that has shown a marked increase in quality since Tony Rynders took the helm. The aromatics are both bright and quite pretty, ranging from rose water to red cherry preserves and a semblance of cola with lighter peat moss undertones that mark the nose. The palate has great freshness and energy unveiling medium-bodied red cherry, red raspberry and cran-orange flavors with earthy undertones. Outstanding in its youth this will evolve well over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 91
2016 Panther Creek ‘Kalita Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- The ‘Kalita Vineyard’ is a Yamhill-Carlton AVA vineyard that is set on Willakenzie soils. The nose evokes some seriously good range, from smoky undertones to a bright saline streak and intense sour red fruits that mingle with citrus zest on this impressive nose. The palate is round and extremely well-balanced. Cran-pomegrnate, ripe strawberry and guava combine with a lighter flinty and wild mushroom element on the mid-palate. Tasted over a period or several hours, this wine only gets better and better. Highly gratifying in its youth, this downright delicious bottling will evolve well or another decade or more. Be sure to give this an hour decant prior to enjoying. Drink 2019-2029- 93
2016 Panther Creek ‘Schindler Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- Located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, the ‘Schindler Vineyard’ is a very small site planted to Pinot Noir and set on marine sedimentary soils. A light whiff of salinity runs through the nose with kirsch and peat moss aromas that all meld in the glass. The palate has good freshness and energy with bright reed fruits that dance with shades of blood orange and minerals. The seductive mineral and dark fruit driven finish lingers long on the palate. Enjoy this fantastic new bottling over the next decade or more. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2016 Panther Creek ‘Carter Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- The 2016 ‘Carter Vineyard’ Pinot Noir is sourced from a vineyard located in the Eola-Amity Hills, set on Nekia soils. Showing a deep core in the glass, this opens with dark fruits that masquerade with earthy undertones and hints of kumquat the collide on this expressive nose. The palate is lithe, showing good weight and complexity with red and dark fruits connecting with shades of blood orange and minerals. While a delight to enjoy in its youth, this will evolve well over the next decade or more. This wine can benefit from several hours decanting if enjoying in its youth. Drink 2019-2029- 91
2016 Panther Creek ‘De Ponte Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- I first tasted wines from this vineyard more than fifteen years ago and was struck by the wonderful sense of balance and richness from this Dundee Hills AVA. Not needing any time to advance once uncorked, this 2016 ‘De Ponte Vineyard’ Pinot Noir opens with a ripe bouquet of boysenberry cordial, sagebrush, forest floor and shades of teaberry. The palate is both lithe and rich, showing a wonderfully plush mouthfeel. Red and dark fruits mingle with an interplay of minerals, chocolate, earthy tones and high toned spice flavors. A touch of salinity mingles nicely as you contemplate this outstanding effort by Tony Rynders. Outstanding now, this will evolve well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2016 Panther Creek ‘Lazy River Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- The ‘Lazy River Vineyard’ is located west of the town of Yamhill and is set on Jory soils. On the nose this takes on vibrant saline dusted red fruits with citrus zest and lovely peat moss undertones that run through this excellent new Pinot Noir. The palate offers good balance and structure, leading to cran-pomegrnate, ripe date and shades of black truffle crudo with a strong saline streak that runs through this outstanding wine. A delight to enjoy in its youth, this great 2016 bottling will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2016 Panther Creek ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir- This ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir is a barrel selection wine sorted out by superstar winemaker Tony Rynders. On the nose this takes one both heady and spicy aromas of red currant jelly, fresh sage, ripe red plum, cigar ash and shades of wild mushroom that all collect in the glass. The palate shows a good sense of freshness with red futs that dance with meransl and shades of blood orange that all collect momentum on the palate. While delicious now, this esteemed wine has a long way to go in the cellar. Drink 2019-2032 -92