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Panther Creek Cellars

Panther Creek

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Panther Creek Cellars, located in McMinnville’s historic power station, produced its first wines in 1986. Founded by Ken Wright, the winery was sold to Ron Kaplan in 1993. The current winemaker is Michael Stevenson. Former winemaker Mark Vlossak is now consulting winemaker.

Panther Creek makes Pinot noir, Melon, and Chardonnay. Attention to detail and minimal intervention are the hallmarks of Panther Creek’s winemaking philosophy. Mark and Ron select specific areas of about eight different vineyards and supervise personally, controlling trellising, yields, and time of harvest. The resulting grapes are the best available, and are bottled for the most part as as reserve and single vineyard wines. Highly sought after, many of their single vineyard wines sell out at or before release.

Panther Creek currently obtains its grapes from eight vineyards (Freedom Hill, Shea, Bednarik, Baldwin (Formerly Stewart), Nysa, Celilo, Melrose and Youngberg Hill), with long-term contracts for specific acres of vines. Panther Creek leases specific blocks and rows in the vineyards nthe winemaker selects. This gives Panther Creek control over crop thinning, pruning, leaf pulling, and harvesting. The average yield of Pinot noir in the Willamette Valley is 3.5 - 4 tons/acre. Panther Creek thin their crop shortly before veraison to 2 - 2.5 tons/acre, thus substantially concentrating the fruit.

 

1999 Single Vineyard
Pinot Noirs

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Knights Gambit 99 --
$58.99
The opportunity popped up to get a small amount of Pinot from this Red Hills site for the 1999 vintage only; a one-shot deal, Panther Creek took it!

This Pommard clone Pinot produced sweet, ripe red fruits on the palate; an ebullient wine that will drink beautifully young, with some cellar potential. Panther Creek produced only 340 cases of Knight’s Gambit, and bottled it March 8, 2001, after aging 16 months in 30% new French oak.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Arcus 99 --
$58.99

1999 is Panther Creek’s first vintage with Archery Summit’s Arcus Estate in the Red Hills above Dundee, Oregon. The soil type is Jory. The wine is a blend of Dijon clones (114, 667, 777 and 828) which were co-fermented and barreled-down together.

It is lighter in style than most Panther Creek Pinots, but beautifully balanced and exceedingly elegant and complex. Panther Creek’s Arcus is all red fruit (especially raspberries) on the palate, with lovely spice and earthy components. Only 200 cases were produced of Arcus, bottled March 5, 2001, after aging 16 months in 15% new French oak. The Archery Summit Arcus vineyard yielded 1.58 tons of grapes per acre.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Bednarik 99 --
$45.00
Bednarik has the most exotic flavor profile of Panther Creek’s single vineyard Pinots, with structure and ageability somewhere between Shea and Freedom Hill. Clones are Pommard and Wadenswil; the soil type is Willakenzie.

The ‘99 Bednarik’s palate is a fine example of blue and black fruits seamlessly integrating with the clove and allspice flavors that typify the site. Panther Creek produced 705 cases of Bednarik, and bottled it March 7, 2001, after aging 16 months in 20% new French oak.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Freedom Hill 99 --
$45.00 -
Freedom Hill is always a powerhouse Pinot. It is consistently Panther Creek’s most structured Pinot noir, and the one with the greatest aging potential. Clones are Pommard and Wadenswil; the soil type is Bellpine.

The flavor profile is dominated by red and black cherries, dusty earth, anise and mint. 1070 cases of Freedom Hill were produced, bottled on March 6, 2001, after aging 16 months in 25% new French oak.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Nysa 99 --

$45.00
1999 is Panther Creek’s third vintage with this meticulously maintained vineyard in the Red Hills above Dundee, Oregon. They have 3.33 acres of the tiny ten-acre site. Clones are Pommard and Wadenswil; the soil type is Jory.

The ‘99 Nysa is superbly integrated and balanced for such a young wine, with flavors dominated by red fruits, earth and anise. Only 310 cases of Nysa we produced, and bottled March 8, 2001, after aging 16 months in 35% new French oak.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Red Hills 99 --

$58.99
1999 is also Panther Creek’s first vintage with Archery Summit’s Red Hills Estate (yes, it’s in the Red Hills above Dundee, Oregon). The soil type is Jory; the clone is Pommard. Like the Arcus, it is beautifully balanced, but a big wine of striking depth and complexity.

Red Hills’ palate is dominated by red fruits, cassis and earth, with a hint of anise. They produced only 100 cases of Red Hills, and bottled it March 5, 2001, after aging 16 months in 75% new French oak.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir
Shea 99 --

$45.00
Shea is consistently the most forward Pinot, offering early accessibility for a single vineyard wine, yet with significant aging capability. The ’99 Shea is probably the biggest, most structured Shea produced to date, assuring great ageworthiness.

Clones are Wadenswil and Pommard; the soil type is Willakenzie. Its palate exhibits a host of sweet red fruits (especially dried red cherry) and earthy sage and cinnamon-like spices (most likely attributable to some whole cluster fermentation). The production of 1490 cases of Shea was aged 16 months in 38% new French oak, and bottled March 5, 2001.

Panther Creek
Reserve Pinot Noir 99

This wine is a blend of Shea Vineyard (30%), Bednarik Vineyard (24%), Youngberg Hill Vineyard (20%), Freedom Hill Vineyard (15%), and De Ponte Vineyard (11%). On the palate the Reserve exhibits the dominant flavors of its constituent wines.

It is vinified and blended to reflect Panther Creek’s goals for the house style: a wine that is not only highly concentrated, complex and ageworthy, but is also accessible now.

The ’99 Reserve admirably showcases the dark, sweet fruit of the vintage. The total production of 890 cases was bottled March 8, 2001, after aging 16 months in 37% new French oak.

Panther Creek 1998 Pinot Noir
Bednarik Vineyard
$42.99
we still have some!
Robert Parker Review 2/28/01 Rating 91 Points
"The medium todark ruby-colored 1998 Pinot Noir Bednarick Vineyard has highly expressive pumpkin pie spice and sweet cherry aromas. It is medium to full-bodied, round, plump, luscious, and sexy, yet has outstanding structure. Lovely cherry, cinnamon, and juniper berry flavors can be discerned in its harmonious, medium to full-bodied personality. Drink it over the next 8-9 years."

Bednarik has the most exotic flavor profile of our single vineyard Pinots, with structure and ageability somewhere between Shea and Freedom Hill. It is an extraordinarily concentrated wine (owing to yields of less than 0.85 tons/acre) with a palate of black and blueberries, pepper and plums. We produced 650 cases of Bednarik, and bottled it February 29, 2000, after aging 16 months in 60% new French oak.

Panther Creek 1998 Pinot Noir
Freedom Hill Vineyard
$42.99we still have some!
Robert Parker Review 2/28/01 92 Points!
"The explosive dark cherry aromatics of the medium to dark ruby-colored 1998 Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard lead to a medium to full-bodied, velvet textured and lush personality. This decadent, chewy, and broad wine bursts on the palate with copious quantities of red cherries. It is well-balanced, intensely flavored, and harmonious. Projected maturity: 2003-2010+."

Wine Spectator rating 90 points
Round and generous. Packed with pure black currant flavor on a supple frame, folding in a few layers of fine tannins to keep it going. Has plenty of power, but feels graceful, too.Best from 2001 through 2008. (1600 cases produced)

Freedom Hill is always a powerhouse Pinot. It is consistently their most structured Pinot noir, and the one with the greatest aging potential. Yet the '98 is the first Freedom Hill that can be thoroughly enjoyed in its youth as well. The flavor profile is dominated by dried red and black cherries, newly turned earth and mint. 1600 cases of Freedom Hill were produced by Panther Creek. It was bottled on March 1, 2000, after aging 16 months in 60% new French oak.

1999 Pinot Noir Estate
$28.99

Just out, and it will go very quickly,
a beautiful wine and a great value.


Panther Creek 1998 Pinot Noir
Shea Vineyard
$42.99
a very few bottles left 5/01
Wine Spectator rating 90 Points
Firm in texture, with spicy blackberry and currant flavors that emerge nicely from the soft tannins and echo on the long finish.Best from 2001 through 2006. (1050 cases produced)

Shea is consistently Panther Creek's most forward Pinot, offering early accessibility for a single vineyard wine, yet with significant aging capability. Its palate is sweet red berries, lavender and earth, and is probably our most Burgundian wine. Production of 1050 cases of Shea was aged 16 months in 40% new French oak, and bottled February 29, 2000.

Earlier Vintages

Panther Creek Pinot Noir Reserve 1997 --
$38.99
SALE $29.99

The winery says:
"Our 1997 Reserve Pinot Noir is a richly layered wine of deep ruby color, with aromatics of dried red and black cherries, cinnamon and allspice. On the palate, blackberries emerge from the rich layers of fruit and spice. Our Reserve is vinified and blended to reflect our goals for the house style: a highly concentrated, structured, complex and ageworthy wine that is nonetheless accessible. This wine is a blend of our three single vineyard sites, Freedom Hill (46%), Shea (28%) and Bednarik (17%), along with O’Connor (5%) and Stewart (4%). The total production of 1,650 cases was bottled March 1-2, 1999, after aging 16 months in 40% new French oak. Release date was May 24, 1999."

We say: Another excellent wine from Panther Creek, a favorite of our staff, with good medium body, lots of black cherry fruit, long finish. Unusual, delicious hint of dried herbs on the finish.

Panther Creek Pinot Noir Nysa 97 --
$39.99 -
The winery says:
"1997 is Panther Creek’s first vintage with this meticulously maintained vineyard in the Red Hills above Dundee, Oregon. We have 3.33 acres of the tiny ten acre site. We felt the exceptional fruit deserved special treatment, and gave it 18 months in 60% new French oak barrels, followed by 6 months in the bottle before its November 15, 1999 debut. Panther Creek’s Nysa is an extraordinarily complex Pinot noir, with a nose of truffles, game, lavender and sage. It has great weight and texture in the mouth, where the earthy components in the nose mingle with red fruit and clove. Nysa’s long, rich finish at this young age, promises great rewards to those who will give it another two or three years in the bottle."
We say: One of the best examples of the 97 vintage of Oregon Pinot noir, a big wine to age and save for a special occasion. Lots of complex flavors and a silky texture.


WHITE WINES

Panther Creek Chardonnay Celilo Vineyard 98
$19.99

Panther Creek’s only Washington wine comes from arguably the finest Chardonnay vineyard in the Northwest. Celilo sits on the south face of Underwood Mountain overlooking the Columbia River. The fruit is distinctive, and Celilo’s "terroir" comes through clearly in this crisp, yet richly textured Chardonnay. Layers of lemon, pear, honey and anise swirl through the bouquet and palate, clearly evidencing Panther Creek’s signature complexity. This opulent Celilo Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in 35% new French oak, with the balance in neutral French barrels. The 300 case production was bottled September 29, 1999.

Panther Creek Melon 99
$21.00
The Melon grape is the same as France's Muscadet, and is also known as Melon de Bourgogne. Until the early 1980's, Melon in the United States was often misidentified as Pinot blanc. Panther Creek's Melón comes from the 24-year old vines of the Stewart Vineyard near Dundee, Oregon.

This is a delicious and unusual wine with lovely subtle flavors. A perfect wine with oysters or other shellfish. Crisp, complex, evocative.

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2000 Panther Creek Melrose Vineyard Pinot Gris
$17.00

The debut into Pinot gris is made from vines planted in the sandy loam soil of this Umpqua Valley site near Roseburg, Oregon. This wine was made in all stainless to preserve the lush aromatics and bright fruit. It did not go through malolactic; so it has big acid, and fermentation was stopped at one percent residual sugar for balance. Panther Creek’s first, but not last, Pinot gris is a wonderful food wine, with a palate of flowers, mandarin oranges and nut meats. Unfortunately, only 250 cases made, bottled March 5, 2001.

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