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2006 Cooper Mountain “Mountain Terroir” Five Elements Series Pinot Noir

Perhaps it is serendipitous that my purchase of Alice Feiring’s new treatise, The Battle for Wine and Love, came at approximately the same time that I pulled the cork on a winery sample from Cooper Mountain Vineyards.

Feiring’s book is a broadside against technology in winemaking and the Cooper Mountain “Mt. Terroir” is as about as natural of a wine as they come.

(Cooper Mountain) Mountain Terroir (Five Elements Pinot Noir) is a blend of some of the best grapes harvested from our three vineyards sites (Grabhorn & Meadowlark & Johnson School). Singled out in individual barrels for aging, the contents of this bottle have been carefully brought together to convey what we hope to be the best expression of Cooper Mountain’s terroir, of our environment.

And, frankly, you have to love a winery that produces only 90 cases of a biodynamic Pinot Noir Cuvee from estate-grown grapes and they decide to sample some to the blogosphere.  It is a bold choice and demonstrates an incredible insight into old-world winemaking technique and the new market dynamics of the modern day. And, it helps that it is a fantastic wine. 

I feel like I was a part of an experiment.  Ostensibly, this sampling was a litmus test by Cooper Mountain.  The wine is certified organic and biodynamic, fermented with native yeasts.  They wanted to know whom the rube is, who does not “get it.”

It is not hard to “get” this wine.  And, in parallel to Feiring’s book, it is not hard to see the immediate point of natural winemaking.

Of all the biodynamic wines that I have tasted, each of them has expressed a certain “it” factor.

Now, mind you, just like NFL quarterbacks, it is very difficult to describe what “it” is.  Sometimes you just know it when you see “it.”  The liveliness, the je ne sais quoi … the LeBron James or the Peyton Manning factor at work, as opposed to the merely good, at the highest level.

Biodynamics wine is a controversial subject, some view it as poppycock, a skepticism about some of the mysticism. 

Here’s where I come down on BioD wines – there’s room enough in the world all variants of winemaking, but it’s hard to argue with what frequently gets delivered in the bottle.  BioD wine is hard to describe, but you know “it” when you taste “it.”

That is a point that Alice Feiring argues and Cooper Mountain delivers.

My review is found here.


Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (5) |


On 05/03, Josh wrote:

Ah, but would you know “it” if you were tasting the wine blind against others? And would you recognize “it” enough times against a control to be statistically significant?

I think these are interesting questions, and crucial ones, that folks like Alice and others seem to be completely uninterested in. Prove to me there is something besides higher levels of VA, some ethyl acetate and certainly more aldehydes in BioD organic wines and I will be the first to plant a cow horn in my vineyard.

And then I’ll shave my head and live in a tree house. raspberry

On 05/03, Jeff wrote:


You pose a valid question.  The thing that I noted with this Pinot is the nose was insane and the finish was longer than some of my conjugal visits. 

I have what I categorize as a decent, but likely average palate and regardless of whether this was a BioD wine or not, it’s hard not to compare this to other wines and simply say that it is very “alive.”

In a blind tasting could I pick out a BioD wine?  Absolutely not.  But, I would note, likely against other non-BioD wines in a blind tasting, that it had a certain something.

That doesn’t answer the question, but then we’re likely apt to have the same conversation 5 or even 10 years from now, as well.


On 05/03, Thad wrote:

Several times a week, we serve an Oregon pinot noir at our dinner table, rarely repeating a bottle from the same producer.  As a result, we experience a number of hits and misses each week.

So it was with pleasant surprise that we tasted “it” while enjoying a Cooper Mountain 2003 Pinot Noir Reserve, a standout amongst its peers in the Willamette Valley.  This experience with Cooper Mountain wines was extended recently with their 2006 ‘Cooper Hill’ Pinot Noir, a delicious value in Oregon pinot considering its low price point.

Whether due to cow horns, lunar calendars, or some other reason,  I am eager to try more of these unique wines.  Whatever “it” proves to be, it is clear Cooper Mountain is on the right path in their overall approach to making delicious wine.


On 05/07, Jeff wrote:

Hey Thad,

Thanks for the comment.  I just added your site to my feed reader, as well.

I’ve been really enjoying most of the Oregon Pinot I’ve been drinking.  A couple of bottles sneak in where it seems like there is a stemmy vegetal character and they’re a bit green, but for the most part, I wish I had your selection to choose from here in the Midwest.

All the best,


On 05/24, TN Pas Cher wrote:

y’re a bit green, but for the most part, I wish I had your selection to choose


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