The Record of a Great Coach: 2009 Soter Pinot Noirs

In Drinking, Pinot Noir on January 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Tony Soter is making one of the most exciting Pinot Noirs in Willamette Valley Oregon.  But his career didn’t start as a wine maker in Oregon.  He started as a wine-consultant in Napa Valley. 

Due to the Satan-esque “micro-oxygenation” proclamations made by Michelle Rolland, stuff wine consultants now have a bad name.  They are thought to swoop in on a winery, offer up a series of techno-gadgetry to “fix” wines, and then leave a seven figure bill in the dust as their limo speeds away.

But Tony’s not that kind of guy and his work in Napa proves it – specifically his work with Shafer on their Hillside Select Cabernet.  Very few wines can claim the track record of Shafer Hillside Select.  Its modern pantheon of successive 98 point or higher (via Robert Parker) vintages is matched by very few wines in the world.  But despite its current glory, Hillside was not always dominant.  In the late 1980s the wine-making team could not seem to take Hillside up to its full potential.  They turned to Tony. 

Like a great coach Tony taught the Shafer wine-making team to trust themselves and the vineyard.  His inaugural wine at Shafer set the modern blue-print for Hillside Select, and scored 99 points from Parker.  When his one year contract was up the Shafers were desperate to keep him.  But Tony told them “You don’t need me, you can do this.  And hey, if you get in to trouble, give me a call.”

Tony’s down to earth coaching now covers Napa Valley – not only did he work at Shafer but also Araujo, Spottswoode, Viader, Dalle Valle and his own winery, Etude – all Napa luminaries. 

And so it was a difficult decision to stop his consulting work.  But Tony returned home to the Willamette Valley to raise a family – and use his talents to create his own wine.  Finding an ideal location at Mineral Springs Vineyard he now crafts two exceptional Pinot Noirs: North Valley and the Mineral Springs vineyard itself.

North Valley Pinot Noir shows off Tony’s exceptional talents as a wine-maker.  It opens with bramble aromas of red cherries, kirsch and sultana raisins.  It is sourced from vineyards within a ten mile radius of Mineral Springs, which contributes to its silken mouth feel and well integrated tannin with very little new oak. 

The Mineral Springs Pinot Noir shows one of Oregon’s great vineyards for Pinot Noir.  Facing due south, Mineral Springs is a gentle sloping, high elevation vineyard of well-drained sedimentary rock.  These characteristics create Pinot Noirs of blackberry, black cherry and floral aromas that recall violets or roses.  Every vintage shows an exotic spice character that seamlessly integrates with the solid core of pure and supple fruit.  The wine is as resolved as it is balanced, and it drinks generously now but will hold in your cellar for a decade or more.        

We are lucky to represent Tony’s exceptional Pinot Noirs at these great prices.  Cheers! 


2009 Soter North Valley Pinot Noir

2009 Soter Mineral Springs Pinot Noir

Please call 414-289-9463 for pricing on these two outstanding wines.


We are not the only ones to find Tony Soter’s new Pinot Noirs exciting.  Here are the Robert Parker reviews cited in the top line:

2009 Soter North Valley Pinot Noir – 91 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:

“In the 2009 vintage, Soter Vineyards handled the conditions as well as anyone. The entry-level bottling, the dark ruby-colored 2009 North Valley Pinot Noir was aged in only 10-20% new oak. Potpourri, incense, and bright red fruits inform the nose of a savory, round, nicely balanced wine that will deliver considerable pleasure over the next 6+ years.”

2009 Soter Mineral Springs Pinot Noir – 93 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:

“The 2009 Pinot Noir Mineral Springs is a 300 case bottling sourced from the tenderloin of the vineyard. More expressive and elegant than the Mineral Springs Ranch, it shows off the best aspects of the vintage. Beautifully proportioned and impeccably balanced, it is one of the stars of the vintage.”


We will be tasting this wine Friday along with a selection of five other wines.  Stop in and join us!


All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number.  All orders will be available at the time of purchase. 

When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged.  The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge.  Offer is good while supplies last. 

Ben Christiansen wrote this article and Tim Hansen edited it.


Bottle tag North Valley:  bramble aromas of red cherries, kirsch and sultana raisins.  Serve with robust fish, lighter meats, or roasted hearty winter vegetables.  Drink now through 2016.


Bottle tag Mineral Springs: blackberry, black cherry and floral notes.  Palate is pure and supple.  Serve with robust fish, lighter meats, or roasted hearty winter vegetables.  Drink now through 2024.