Finding a legitimate Pinot Noir winery in Washington can be difficult. Although Panther Creek opened their tasting room relatively recently in Woodinville in 2018, the origination begins with Pinot Master Ken Wright, who founded the label in 1986 in Oregon. Bacchus Capital Management (who owns DeLille, amongst others), now owns the label, and winemaker Tony Rynders (Domaine Serene) is now consulting winemaker. Panther Creek continues to source from quality vineyards from Oregon, the benchmark for Pinot Noir.
2017 Chardonnay Butterscotch nose, vanilla. Bright green apples with nice acid, soft finish, minimal oak. $32. Score 90. 2021 Winemaker’s Cuvee Pinot Noir Willamette Valley - mixed vineyards Red licorice, cherry nose, wet stone with sweet florals, tobacco and touch of white pepper. Opens to blueberries and cherries focused, on a medium body with nice bright round acid and pepper. Descends into mineral and light oak with round tannins touch of black tea. Great weeknight wine for the price! $32. Score 93. 2018 Maverick Vineyard Pinot Noir Yamhill - Carlton AVA Ripe cherries, leather, touch of earth and pepper. Medium bodied with strawberries, cherries, with round acid, notes of black tea. Nice complexity. Nice structure rounded tannins. Nice dry finish, with touch of cedar. Should age well. $52. Score 94. 2018 Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir Yamhill - Carlton AVA Concentrated dark fruit on the nose, leather, floral notes, vanilla and cocoa. Medium body of red cherry, with slightly grippy tannins. $52. Score 93. 2016 Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir Yamhill - Carlton AVA Aromas of stone, earth, and mushroom. Fruit driven medium body of smooth, stewed strawberries, jam, sweet spices, nutmeg and kick of white pepper. Backbone of smooth tannins, and nice lengthy finish. $65. Score 95. 2013 Schindler Vineyard Pinot Noir Yamhill - Carlton AVA Plum and heavy oak on the nose, medium body of red fruits, licorice, grippy tannins. $65. Score 89.
Panther Creek delivers all the promise expected from Oregon Pinot right in the Woodinville backyard. I will definitely return. In the meanwhile, I loved the 2021 Winemaker's Cuvee - an absolute bargain for a weekday Pinot, and adored the 2016 Kalita Vineyard.