2015 Averaen (Banshee) Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1277806 91 points Vinous

 Lurid red. Vibrant, sharply focused scents of ripe red berries and candied flowers are complicated by suggestions of cinnamon and allspice. Lithe and appealingly sweet on the palate, offering intense raspberry, cherry and spicecake flavors that deepen and spread out with air. The floral note comes back strong on the clinging, spice-laced finish, which is given shape by harmonious, slow-building tannins. This wine delivers outstanding value and is an auspicious inaugural offering for this project, which is owned by the proprietors of California Pinot Noir specialist Banshee. A new project from the team that produces Banshee wines in California, winemaking here is under the watch of Adam Smith, a young but experienced winemaker who trained at Domaine Serene and Shea, among other wineries. He also has his own project, Eisold Smith. The wine is made without any new oak, with value strongly in mind, fruit is sourced from some of the Willamette Valley’s best vineyards, including Momtazi, Meredith Mitchell, Deux Vert, Looney and Nysa. The bang-for-the-buck factor here is really impressive. (JR)  (11/2016)

K&L Notes

Averaen Pinot Noir comes from the folks at Banshee, and is made in Oregon by winemaker Adam Smith, who made Banshee's first batch! They always make a spot-on quality-for-price Pinot, and we're excited to see them in action in Oregon. The winery's vintage notes: "A mild winter led to early bud break, and early flowering. Weather was perfect around bloom, giving way to excellent fruit set. The hot, dry summer brought accelerated ripening. Warm/early sites came off the vine first week of September, breaking records for red-wine harvest timing. Warm, windy and wet in the middle of September bought us a bonus couple of weeks in cooler, high-elevation sites, yielding more complex, mature flavors in later picks."

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Price: $19.99
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Staff Image By: Scott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/29/2017 | Send Email
This great, extremely affordable Pinot Noir comes to us from the Willamette Valley care of one of our favorite producers, Banshee. It has knockout dark cherry fruit with spice, a touch of tobacco, and loamy earthy scents. Very balanced with an almost Grenache-like acidity and moderate tannin. Very complex!

Staff Image By: Mari Keilman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/24/2017 | Send Email
​​​With all these new Willamette wines these days, you never know what to expect. Winemakers are trying so hard to be avant garde and constantly push the envelope but what does that mean for all of us that just like to drink a good Oregon Pinot Noir?!?!?! Thankfully the peeps at Banshee decided to start a Willamette Pinot project and the best thing is that winemaker Adam Smith is not afraid to make an Oregon Pinot that tastes like a Pinot Noir. A beautiful richness that's matched with subtle notes of integrated toast, bright red berry fruit and baking spices are elegantly supported by a firm backbone of bright acidity. Well worth the $20 price tag!

Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/18/2017 | Send Email
Averaen: [AY-vuh-rain]
1: The new and wildly exciting Pinot Noir project from the men that brought you Banshee
2: The men from Banshee’s loose translation of “Bird Queen” from the Latin word “avis” for bird and French word “reine” for queen (Latin root regina)
Since the very first bottling of Banshee, K&L was their second customer ever, the three amigos: Baron, Steve and Noah, have made some of the best affordable Pinot Noir in California not to mention great Chardonnay and some other fun things as well. So when they told me in secret a little over two years ago that they were thinking about making Willamette Valley Pinot Noir I was obviously very excited. The result is Averaen and it is a wonderful example of why Banshee became so popular in the first place: the quality for value just can’t be beat. At $19.99 this was instantly in the argument for one of the best wines from the still youthful but very good 2015 vintage at this price point. Made from some vineyards well know to insiders and Oregon Pinot files like Meredith Mitchell, Deux Vert, Eola Springs and Valin among others this is top flight raw materials wedged into an entry level price point. Also an added bonus for the 2015 vintage bottling is that every grape harvested in 2015 went into this bottling where as in years upcoming they will also make single vineyard bottlings, so this really is the best foot forward with their inaugural release.
Made from a mix of Volcanic and Sedimentary soils and a blend of Pommard and Dijon clones this takes all the best parts of Oregon Pinot Noir and dovetails them in to one seamless and drinkable wine. Aromas of freshly picked cherries, clove and wet, warm earth dominate the nose backed by typical forest-y notes and hints of darker berry fruits. The first thing that struck me about this wine is just how serious it is in terms of balance and structure. Everything is in its place and while this is eminently drinkable it is also quite serious and complex. Lush loganberry at the edges with a pitchy red fruited core this Pinot has plenty of fruit intensity and lift but it also has the darker side of the Pinot spectrum as well with finishing mushroom, fern and purple flower notes. Add a subtle oaky quality, but no toastiness-this is all done in neutral oak foudre and stainless steel-and this really becomes one of the best Pinot Noir values, regardless of place, in K&L today.

Staff Image By: Shaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/11/2017 | Send Email
Glass Full Glass Full Glass Full Glass Full Glass Half
Add my voice to the chorus of praise! Winemaker Adam Smith has brought us another fantastic wine at a ridiculous price from the stable of the guys at Banshee. It's hard to find even a pleasant Pinot at this price these days, yet alone a beautifully made, seriously food-friendly Pinot like this.
Top Value!

Staff Image By: Alex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/11/2017 | Send Email
Banshee has been blowing minds with its quality-to-price ratios in Sonoma County, and now they are redefining what $20 gets you in the Willamette Valley, too. The Averaen Pinot Noir is a beautiful one. Fresh, ripe blueberry, raspberry and strawberry flavors with a great acid backbone and a light, silky texture. By far the best money you can spend in the appellation at the moment.

Staff Image By: Gary Norton | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/11/2017 | Send Email
Six months ago if someone told me I could buy a twenty dollar Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley that was produced from vineyards such as Meredith Mitchell and Eola Springs, I'd probably take offense to it. No one likes to be lied to! Alas, it's actually available. Made by our buddy Adam Smith (formerly of Bethel Heights & Shea - currently of Eisold Smith), this new project from the folks at Banshee Wine Company is an absolute knock out. Dark fruits, dried violets and a spicy finish. This is one of my top value choices of 2017.
Drink from 2017 to 2024

Staff Image By: Dulcinea Gonzalez | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
Killer value Pinot from Willamette! Earthy, spicy, rich and deliciously nuanced, with dark red fruit flavors, lush texture, good acidity and silky tannins. A must try!

Staff Image By: Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
I love the guys at Banshee and I've never met them. I have consumed enormous amounts of their Pinot and Chardonnay from Sonoma, and now I have a new favorite. They've made an amazing Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to showcase amazing fruit sources. It's a mix of stainless steel, neutral oak, and neutral oak foudre letting the bright cherry and cranberry fruit shine through. While it's got tons of zip and acidity, it also shows a beautiful level of ripeness. I'm so pumped that they're working on an Oregon project because they always let the terroir shine through, so this is wholly something new to love from the folks at Banshee.

Staff Image By: Stephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
Banshee, one of our favorite California producers, has branched out to Oregon to create Averaen Pinot Noir that's beautifully balanced and well-priced at only $19.99. It has lush and bright red fruit that is intertwined with some earthiness and herb elements to make it an all around well crafted Pinot. I can't wait to see what comes of this Oregon project in the upcoming vintages...

Staff Image By: Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
This was an amazing vintage for the Willamette Valley and that fact is reflected in this wine, which is the next big release for the Banshee team. This wine is produced from high end fruit, with the Pommard clone being dominant in this Pinot Noir. The oak is subtle on this beauty due to aging in stainless steel, neutral oak, and foudre. This Oregon Pinot Noir is worth far more than it's price point and will stun you with the elegance of its fruit.
Top Value!

Staff Image By: Kirk Walker | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
This is a decadent little Pinot. The nose is dark red fruits with dusting of superfine mocha, list it we a wine chocolate truffle. The palate has that same feeling, super fine dusty tannins and a hint of spice and clean bright fruit. Hard to beat at this price.

Staff Image By: Anthony Gittings | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
This is an absolute steal in the Pinot Noir world, especially considering the fruit is sourced from Willamette Valley. A beautiful bouquet of fresh herbs and dark fruit first welcome you in the glass. Rich, restrained and sophisticated fruit command your attention and consume your palate. This is sure to be a hit at your next dinner party!

Staff Image By: Diana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
Soft floral nose, crunchy red and blackberry fruit, tart acidity and an unexpectedly tannic, spicy finish, this feels huge for Oregon Pinot Noir, but I’d expect nothing less from Banshee’s bombastic team and the warmer 2015 vintage. Fruit-forward yet woodsy, with classical Willamette Valley aromatics, Averaen is full but balanced, and value-priced.

Staff Image By: Andrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/24/2016 | Send Email
A new project from the producers of Banshee for those who love the Pinot being grown in the Willamette valley. The Averaen showcases ripe fruit with hints of candy and cherry cola, these rich notes are balanced by acid and tannin. The richness that Banshee is known for is integrated into the structure that Pinot from this area is famous for. Overall this is a balanced and lovely Pinot Noir just in time for the holidays.

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Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- Highly touted for its Pinot Noirs, Oregon is part of the up-and-coming winemaking industry in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Most of Oregon is directly affected by the climate coming off of the Pacific Ocean, giving it mild winters and wet summers. This makes it a difficult place to ripen grapes, but some say that the harder grapes have to struggle, the more complex they will turn out to be. Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are two important and successful grapes grown in Oregon.
Alcohol Content (%): 14.1