Pity Portlandia the winery, which has to compete with Portlandia the TV show, at least until this final season ends.
But Portlandia wine “was conceived well before the hit Fred Armisen show, a similar Oregonian whimsy can be detected on the quirky labels and in winemaker Damian Davis’s endearingly zany spirit,” or so they say. And it’s not just fanciful: The Willamette Valley AVA encompasses the entire city of Portland, and wineries are popping up near the city, and even inside it.
Portlandia technically hails from Dundee, which is in the heart of Willamette Valley, but we won’t hold that against them. While we dig into a quartet of surprisingly affordable wines from this operation, do take a moment to enjoy the hyper-hip labels, all simple, single-color graphics on kraft paper, each more iconically hipster than the last.
2016 Portlandia Oregon Pinot Gris – A lively and fresh pinot gris, this expression is a showcase for fresh-press white grapes, lemon, and gentle floral notes. It’s hardly a complex wine, though hints of grapefruit give it ample acidity and easy drinkability. B+ / $17
2016 Portlandia Oregon Rose of Pinot Noir – This rose of pinot is restrained on the fruit, allowing the more steely, acidic notes of a white wine to shine through. A light touch of strawberry, some brewed tea notes, and a hint of caramel take things in a bit of a different direction, giving the wine more of a sustained presence. B+ / $16
2015 Portlandia Oregon Pinot Noir – A soft wine that borders on thin at times. Though a brisk nose of spice, cherry, and gunpowder gives it some initial oomph, the body of the wine settles a little too quickly into a heavily fruited, slightly sweet character, punctuated by strawberry and rhubarb, with a twist of cotton candy. That said, it’s not at all hard to drink, particularly at mealtime, its finish lightly spiced with Christmas cake notes. B / $19
2015 Portlandia Momtazi Pinot Noir – Biodynamic. This is a much bolder expression of pinot, one that I could easily mistake for a Russian River bottling, full of graphite and tannin notes, with a heavy-duty body that allows dense blackberry fruit to slowly bubble up to the surface. It’s a powerful wine considering its Oregon origins, weighty but balanced, with a clean and elegant finish that invites continued exploration. A- / $35