Johan Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir (2)

Johan Vineyards Reserve Willamette Pinot Noir Mini-Vertical 2-Pack
$59.99 $̶9̶7̶.̶0̶0̶ 38% off List Price
2009 Pinot Noir, Nils Reserve Willamette Valley
2008 Pinot Noir, Nils Reserve Willamette Valley
CT links above

Winery website

And the monkey returns!


Hello Wooters,
My name is Dan Rinke. I am the Winemaker for Johan Vineyards in Rickreall, Oregon. This is my first time offering wines on Woot and I am excited to meet everyone. I have dedicated my day to get to know each of you and answer any questions you may have so please reach out to me. We farm and produce our wines using Biodynamic methods and are proud participants of the natural wine movement spreading across the world. We are known in Oregon for producing authentic, polarizing wines that are fun to debate and discuss with fellow wine aficionados. I will be logging on at 7:30AM PST and look forward to getting my wine geek on!


This looks to be some awesome stuff, in for one!

Good Morning Dan and Welcome to wine.woot!

What do you mean when you say your wines are polarizing?

Good luck on your first offer!

Hi Dan,
looks like some great juice. Do you have the tech specs (pH, TA, etc) for the 2008? I know that was a great year in Willamette, will the 2008 have more aging potential than the 09? Is it fair to assume that the 09 is a bit more forward in fruit due to the heat that year?

Hi Dan,

I am excited to hear more about your wines.

You mention “high acidity” in the voicemail but the pH of 3.85 seems a bit on the high side to me.

Could you discuss?

Also, could you mention your opinion with regard to prime drinking window?


I’ll second the welcome to winemaker Dan Rinke. I liked his voice note and agree that the Holy Grail of Pinot is the ineffable combination of elegance and restrained long-lived power that one finds in grand cru Burgundy.

A bottle of the 2009 Johan Nils Reserve Pinot Noir turned up and, on (what for some is) the Glorious Twelfth, received my attention, and that of SWMBO and my eldest daughter (aka D1), who has been tasting wine since her pre-teens.

All of us like Pinot Noir, especially good Burgundy, and have come to appreciate Oregon Pinot Noir equally with the better California Pinot Noirs from Carneros, Sonoma Coast and Russian River AVAs. None of are fans of the overripe, high alcohol style of some California Pinot Noir of recent years.

We waited about 15-20 minutes after opening the bottle, and pouring tasting amounts into glasses, before sampling.

We tasted and made our notes separately, without talking to each other. Then we discussed our impressions and the wine over dinner.


The color was crystal clear with little in the way of ‘legs’ - the first impression was that the body would be on the lighter side. D1 made no notes on the color; SWMBO thought it was slight ‘yellow’ around the edges, which I would have described more as ‘brick’.


rpm: not strongly aromatic, perhaps faint cherries, with a slightly floral note (violets?), almost a little alcohol (surprising given the 12.7%) and something earthy, almost tarry (or was it tarweed?) in the back of the nose. Pleasant oveall.

SWMBO: simple, but classic Pinot nose. nice nose, but closed.

D1: small nose. perhaps currents with an undertone of caramel(?)


rpm: modest, Pinot flavors - earthy, rather than fruity. light body.

SWMBO: closed. Pinot.

D1: smooth entry

Middle Palate

rpm: good firm middle for a light bodied wine. Cherry flavors towards the back of the mouth.

SWMBO: no specific note

D1: green pepper in the middle palate


rpm: mid-length, a nice mix of acid and tannin.

SWMBO: short finish

D1: cherry finish, but tannic.

[NB. In discussing, we thought this was the same thing I described as the back end of the middle palate.]

Overall Impressions

rpm: Definitely a food wine; it worked pretty well with the steak dinner we paired it with. It did not open up nearly as much as we would have liked/hoped. Nor did it show the complexity we look for in high end Pinot - which might be a result of the wine needing age or might not.

SWMBO: simple [NB: we have been drinking the 2009 Winter Hill, another Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with pleasure over the past several months. We happened to have half a bottle open from Thursday evening. SWMBO got a glass of it halfway through dinner and passed it around. The bright fruit Pinot aromas were much more pronounced. SWMBO strongly preferred the Winter Hill to the Johan.]

D1: wish there were more of a nose. Definitely needs food. slightly sour taste. lingering finish on the tongue is nice.

Consensus: Often one thinks of a wine as more than the sum of its parts; this one was in a way less. It didn’t really ‘gel’ or ‘knit’ for us, though individual parts were nice. It didn’t open significantly during the evening, or even the next day (there was a glass left). It seemed to us the rough equivalent of a simple Burgundy, the sort available from large negociant houses like Louis Latour. Now, to get Burgundian from Oregon (or California) is a complement. Perhaps we’re hyper-critical (who me?), but we wanted more from this wine than we got. I probably liked it best of the three of us.

The 2009 is definitely not fruit forward.

Nice review RPM, I spent a little time in Oregon and really began to appreciate a good Pinot. I’m curious how Dan will respond. Oh, and welcome Dan!

Thank you for the welcome. To me polarizing means that the wines are out of the normal realm for what is generally produced by our neighbors in the Willamette Valley. For some folks the wines are a refreshing departure from what they expect from our region and for some they are too far off the mark of what to expect.

I hope that answers the question.



Work in progress:
On a recent visit to California I grabbed a bottle of the 2008 from a friend who had too much of it and initially was going to enjoy this with a few Pinot lover friends - alas, that gathering fell through.

Since I am at home today and do not need to operate a car or any type of machinery, the cork of the bottle did not survive this call to action.

It was a bit too chilled and thus mute on the nose, however, some earthyness, cracked pepper and some vegetal notes came through nevertheless.

Pouring, when chilled, I perceived vegetal notes like beets, not much fruityness. It seemed very restrained and not full bodied.

After letting it warm up a bit, the overall ‘restrainedness’ prevailed. The earthiness is less in my face now. Some muted cherries, maybe a hint of strawberry - but still not fruit forward. Not tarty. I can still perceive some vegetal/beet notes, but more subtle. Maybe some floral/lavender notes (nose and palate) where it was more ‘beets’ before.

I read RPM’s notes before writing this, so I also tend to think that the wine would benefit from a bit more aging.
It seems integrated, but possibly would could take a few more years.

I did not think it tasted very tannic, so, take your pick.

The finish was medium/short. Maybe a bit lingering vanilla?

Will edit as it opens up - after 30 minutes subtle fruit notes come out a bit and improve mostly the finish.

Most importantly - do I like it?
I like the fact that it is restrained and a bit different to many other Pinots I had. I did not enjoy it with food and but believe it would have benefitted to be enjoyed with food.

So, overall, I like and appreciate it. Elegant and balanced describes it well.

Note that these days I am more a ‘meaty Syrah’ or ‘big cab’ guy and enjoy meaty, smoky, funky flavors.
Would recommend it to Pinot lovers though.

… wine changed character over time, several hours later, it is definitely more fruity (though not fruit forward), and some minerality, finish is longer now. Lost some of its earthyness, gained a slight hint of shale(?) but now it feels a bit richer in terms of mouthfeel (which I did not mention before) - a bit velvety (together with the minerality it is pleasing).

Several hours later, it is warm today… about 80F, left the wine in the glass. It developed quite some tart over time.

So, if you are looking for this type of complexity where the wine changes quite a bit while opening up, this is interesting.

I was fortunate to find a bottle of the 09 Nils Reserve in the back of my cellar the other day so here are my notes. I would have posted last night but lost internet connection.

I have had many IMHO fantastic bottles of Johan Pinots years ago so maybe i’m a bit of a homer.

My experience with Johan wines is to give them plenty of air. I slow o’d this bottle for 6+ hours before trying and the nose was still pretty tight, on the palate it was quite open with rich cherries, plums earth a bit of rhubarb maybe pomegranate baking spices and herbs. My wife and I thought it had a good tannic grip and the acid seemed to be on point or the spiciness made the acid stand out. It is has a medium body and a shortish finish. Definitely a food wine that was paired with grilled salmon and peppered potato’s the salmon really brought out some sweetness. Can’t wait to try the 08, overall we liked the wine a lot and the bottle disappeared quickly over the 2 hr dinner very elegant :slight_smile:

Edit: The wine seemed fairly dark in the glass but when held up to the light it was light brickish in color??

For the 2008 Nils

pH 3.72
TA 6.2
Alc 13.1%
Brix at harvest 23

Clone 667 40%, Clone 115 15%, Clone 777 35%. Clone 114 10%

50% whole-cluster fermentation in 1 ton lots, punch down by feet, maceration on skins for 19 days, pressed direct to barrel with no settling.

The wine was aged for 18 months in 30% new French oak and 70% used French oak. It was never racked out of barrel until bottling unfined and unfiltered.

In my experience the 2008 vintage produced much more age worthy wines for the Willamette Valley over the 2009 vintage. I would say that this is the reality for our own wines as well and expect the 2008 to outlast the 2009. Both wines have a longevity of at least another 5 years in my opinion with the 2008 potentially lasting for another 10-12.

Generally speaking our wines are not fruit forward in any vintage. The 2009 has softer tannins and lower acidity compared to the 2008 so the texture is more agreeable at the moment. I would not say that it has greater fruit expression than the 2008 so there is a trade off between the two. Both wines need a decant before drinking to bring out their full expression.



Thank you for this great question. The relationship of pH and acidity is complex in wine.

In general, pH and acidity are correlated but they have a good amount of room to fluctuate independently of one another. It is possible to have both high acidity and high pH if you have elevated levels of potassium in the wine. The use of whole-cluster fermentation increases the concentration of certain salts, like potassium, which will raise the pH of the wine yet alter the acidity of the wine very little. The Johan Vineyard is a cold site and the acid retention in the grapes at harvest is high so we manage to retain a fresh acidity in the wine despite the use of whole-cluster.

I hope that makes sense.

The drinking window for the 2009 Nils would be between 2016-2020.

The drinking window for the 2008 Nils would be between 2020-2025.

This is my best guess at the moment for an ideal drinking window. I wish I had a 30 year history of making wine from Johan so that I could be more experienced with the evolution of the wines. Our very first vintage of 2006 is still a baby at the moment as are our 2007 wines. We tried a 2008 Nils two weeks ago to assess the wine and I found it drank best after being open for 4 days.

Hope this helps.



Very interesting offer, with excellent tasting notes from people whose palates I trust. So far I’m not convinced on value if I have to age this for 5+ years before it’s really hitting its stride. If there was some library wine hanging around I’d be very curious to try it to figure out whether this will evolve toward my tastes over time.

I too was fortunate to have a bottle of 2009 Johan Vineyards Pinot Noir Nils Reserve land in my cellar.

I decanted this for two hours, but had a small sample before enjoying it with some Hawaiian pulled pork.

The color was interesting, as others noted it did seem dark in the glass, but oddly brickish with light.

The initial sample pour was pretty restrained on the nose, but when I got back to it to enjoy with dinner it had opened up a bit showing hints of baking spice, black cherries, and a bit of earth.

On the pallet the baking spice and earthiness carried through, along with the black cherries, and a hint of a green note I can’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t unpleasant, just interesting, and bugged me as I couldn’t place it. It had a velvety mouth feel, and I’d say it’s a medium bodied Pinot.
The Finish was nice, medium length with hints of oak.

Overall I really enjoyed this wine, it went well with my Hawaiian pork :slight_smile:
It seemed well balanced, but I feel it could benefit with a few more years in the cellar, and given it’s stats, it looks like it has the potential to cellar for quite a few years IMHO.

I’m feeling like the ct notes are very complimentary, while the squirrel notes are pointing to a less complex beast. Maybe it’s going through a so called “dumb phase”?

I am glad you brought up the topic of aging the wine and comparing its value. I’m not sure I understand the conflict there. Can you please describe to me why it is that a wine could be less valuable if it needs further aging to show its best? Would the wine offer greater value at $30 if it was ready to drink now? I just want to make sure I understand what you mean.