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11.17.2004

2001 R. Stuart & Co "Big Fire" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

In case you hadn't noticed, Oregon Pinot Noir is hot right now. So hot, perhaps, that the folks at R. Stuart & Co. have called it "Big Fire." They could have also called it "Big Fun" and it would have fit within their brand image nicely.

This quirky little winery operation/family/company is run by Rob Stuart, a veteran west coast winemaker who is now in his 21st vintage as a winemaker. His most recent stint was at Erath Vineyards but now he's focused on fulfilling his long time love of Pinot Noir by just making it for himself. Along the way he's enlisted the help of his wife as a PR and marketing director, and a couple of other local characters for sales and spiritual guidance, and together they've managed to build a friendly family operation that churns out some decent wines.

They currently produce two lines of wine, one of which is a reserve Pinot, bottled under the label R. Stuart & Co. the other of which is the wine under discussion, which is one of a pair they bottle under the label "Big Fire" (the other being a Pinot Gris).

This wine is, from the beginning, made to be accessible -- from the ripe (but not super ripe) fruit grown in the Bunker Hill, Temperance Hill, Melrose, and Arcus & Erath vineyards, to the aging in more neutral French oak (with just a touch of it new -- 10%). The wine weighs in at a light 13% alcohol. I'm not sure how much of it they produce but there's probably lots of it -- it may not be a small production wine, but it's made by a small family of folks, and from what I can tell, with some care.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is blood colored with a pleasing nose of cinnamon, leather, redcurrants and tobacco leaves. On the palate it is bright and light with primary flavors of redcurrant and sour plum and a light spice as the wine finishes clean without much tannic structure. This is one to drink early and often.

Food Pairing:
I always like to defer to the winemakers on pairings if they feel strongly, and the folks at R. Stuart & Co. feel like this one's a knockout with salt roasted chicken. I can easily imagine that it would be.

Overall Score: 8/8.5

How Much?: $15

You can buy this wine directly from the winery's site, or you can find them in various liquor stores around the country.

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