A Surprising Willamette Discovery: Cooper Mountain Vineyards

For all the years I have tasted Oregon wines, I was surprised to just stumble across these this year, especially as Cooper Mountain Vineyards is celebrating its 40thWillamette Valley harvest in 2018.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay Estate Bottled
This Demeter Certified Willamette Valley Oregon Chardonnay very clearly does what it says on the label. It tastes like Chardonnay, and it’s a very easy-going Chardonnay to boot. It seems to be made for those who neither want Chablis nor creamy, oaky, swank California Chardonnay. That means it should find a very broad market, indeed. There is the lightest of vinous sappiness and modest concentration framed by moderate alcohol and bright acidity. Freshly squeezed lemon, golden kiwi and star fruit give excellent approachability flavor-wise.

Copper Mountain Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir Life 
Not surprisingly, with a name like “Life”, this wine has a natural bent. Its back label says, “No Sulfites added. May Contain Naturally Occuring (sic) Sulfites.” This is a deeply colored, purple wine with über-ly youthful and accessible mulberry fruits tinged with mocha and wood char. It’s gentle on the palate with suave tannins and supporting but unobtrusive acidity. There’s substantial concentration that provides a solid finish. It’s hard not to slurp this up, whether it’s cellar temperature or chilled! Moreover, despite the “natural” bent, it has loads of body, plenty of alcohol and drinks like a very robust Oregonian Pinot Noir.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir
This is a rather monolithic red made from biodynamically grown grapes that doesn’t much resemble most Oregon Pinot Noir. Black cherries and blackberries are lifted by hint of lavender and mocha with a touch of black chocolate bitterness. This is a sturdy Pinot Noir with good palate depth dabbed by viscosity and noticeable heat. Its mild tannins and acidity could use some structural back-up. While this is a big red that will make many friends, it’s more for those preferring Cabernet to Pinot Noir given its grandiose style. Despite this, the medium-plus finish is very pleasant.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir Mountain Terroir Meadowlark 
This “Biodynamic Wine” that is Demeter Certified is a full-bodied, boisterously ripe and, hence, very accessible Pinot Noir. Its nose shows strains of raspberry jam, lavender and rose petals. However, those elegant top notes segue into a somewhat clumsy mouthfeel. The palate is broad with mild tannins and a hint of tar on the finish. It’s not very complex, substituting exuberant, upfront fruit for nuance, and its finish is short and simple. Still, it has a handsome, filling palate and so it will surely be much appreciated by many.