Joseph Pedicini is a New Jersey native making two delicious Oregon pinot noirs that you’ll want to get before others discover them.
Pedicini was born in Summit and raised in Berkeley Heights. He learned winemaking the way nearly all American-born Italians do: helping his immigrant grandfather make the yearly Vino di Casa. (My own introduction to wine was from the jugs of the family red made in the basement of the home of my high school buddy Matty Ballentino).
As a twentysomething, Pedicini moved to Oregon with the intent of brewing hand-crafted beers, but he soon realized that Oregon’s Willamette Valley was justifiably famous for its pinot noirs. He switched hops for grapes and applied his fermentation skills to pinot noir.
In 2003, Pedicini created his first wine and labeled it Montebruno, the maiden name of his southern Italian-born grandmother. A few weeks ago, I tasted Pedicini’s two wines in our market: the 2008 Montebruno Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the 2009 Montebruno Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir. They are both well-made and stylistically different.
Willamette Valley is universally recognized as the source of Oregon’s (and some say, America’s) best expression of pinot noir. Its rise to prominence has been meteoric- the first pinot noir vineyards were planted only a little more than 40 years ago by wine pioneers such as David Lett, Dick Ponzi, Dick Erath, Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser, and David Adelsheim. They understood that Willamette Valley’s mild climate allows pinot noir to ripen gradually, maintaining fruit flavors with equilibrium of tannins, acidity and alcohol.
Pedicini has long-term contracts with three Willamette Valley vineyards and controls all the viticulture decisions, including some organic and biodynamic methods.
The 2008 Montebruno Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has a beautiful raspberry color and captivating floral and red fruit aromas. There is a wonderful blend of cherry, strawberry and clove flavors that course around the mouth on a medium-body structure with perfect balance and not a trace of alcohol in the finish. After two hours in a decanter, the wine developed a rhubarb-like quality and maintained its balance. It was superb with a grilled Berkshire pork chop. A minuscule 500 cases of this wine were produced
The 2009 Montebruno Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir is from a sub-region of Willamette Valley. Over the years, wines from this area have impressed me with their copious fruit and inconspicuous tannins and acidity. Pedicini’s wine wears that profile. It’s black cherry-colored and bursting with cola, blackberry and cinnamon aromas. A cornucopia of black and red fruit flavors are deposited on the palate with no noticeable tannins or acidity and with a mild presence of alcohol in the finish. This is a voluptuous, hedonistic Oregon pinot noir. Only 850 cases were made.
The 2008 Montebruno Willamette Valley retails for approximately $37; the 2009 Montebruno Eola-Amity Hills is about $27.