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2011estate_highresI recently sat down with Kevin Wiles at Revolution restaurant in Durham. Their always beautifully prepared food provided a fine luncheon to assist in tasting Raptor Ridge Winery selections. Kevin has been assistant winemaker there since 2008 and this Oregon estate, located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA (American Viticultural Area, next to Ponzi), is making delectable wines. We tasted five. A superb 2014 Pinot Gris ($20) was a mouthwatering opener. It has an overt, tropical nose with excellent balance and finish. This brisk, enticing wine reminds one of a first-rate Alsatian model at an excellent price point. (90 points)

Founded in 1995 by Annie and Scott Shull, they produce a panoply of wines but, as has become world-evident, this is Pinot Noir country. Their Barrel Select, Reserve and Single-Vineyard Shea Pinots were each remarkable wines, getting more complex and interesting as they went along. (Pricing is from $30-$55.) The 2013 Barrel Select ($30) has far more depth and dark fruit than any comparable French Burgundy. The 2012 Shea was a monster of fat, pure and unctuous fruit—reminded me of a top Fixin, from the Côte De Nuits, in a great vintage. But this is a wine to lay away for five years or more.

For immediate pleasure, I was smitten by the purity of the 2011 Estate bottling. From a long and very cool vintage, the wines were initially given a whitewash of mediocre press. But this wine is poetry now, a testament to ably handling weather conditions, fruit selection and related challenges by Scott and Kevin. It’s absolutely delicious for current consumption.

2011 Raptor Ridge Estate Pinot Noir $45 srp

From vineyards planted in 2001, this has a pointed, penetrating nose that pulls you in seductively. Bouquet of Italian plum, roses, violets, beetroot, roasted coffee and earth. Pinot does that—presents a smorgasbord of scents displaying inimitable Pinot character. Substantial mouth texture with subtle fruit that’s mellow, warm and perfect to curl up with. Suave with no meanness, it’s medium-bodied and balanced. Drink now-2017.

92/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi

Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.

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