"Decent wine needs to be affordable," says Matt Kinne, the bearded, soft-spoken sage of McKinlay Vineyards in the Willamette Valley. "Then wine will have a chance to surpass Budweiser as the national beverage." Of course, it also has to be good. Kinne's 2008 McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($16.99) is both. Made from entirely estate-grown fruit on jory and nekiah (igneous volcanic) soils at a combination of three small vineyards near his home.
Of course, you've probably never heard of McKinlay since Matt prefers to stick close to home tending his vines (as well as some goats and pigs) rather than run around the country marketing his wine. And he only makes between 2,500 and 3,200 cases per year, split between the Willamette bottling and smaller lots of single-vineyard and Reserve wines that sell out very quickly.
The 2008 vintage was exceptional in the Willamette Valley and this wine certainly belies its modest price. More elegant than most Pinot Noirs under $20, it leans toward brighter, almost filigreed raspberry fruit, with an undercurrent of sweet cherry and a vein of minerals flecked with spice. The tannins are soft and focused, and there is plenty of juicy acidity to help it pair with almost anything you can cook up, including Matt's wife Holly's delicious seafood chowder. Unfortuantely, supplies are limited, but the riper, more forward '09s (which I recently tasted out of barrel) will be blended, bottled and released soon.
Want to learn more about Matt Kinne and McKinlay Vineyards? Check back soon for a video interview.