5 Oregon Pinots to Try Now
+ 2014 1st & 2nd Team Oregon Pinot
One of wine's most exciting treasures, these bottles marry
New World strengths with Burgundian finesse.
By Paul Gregutt-Wine Enthusiast Mag
You’ve long heard Oregon’s Willamette Valley is home to world-class Pinot
But admit it, when it’s time to order from the wine list, or pluck one from
the shop shelf, something often stops you and, instead, you sip yet another
Pinot from Burgundy or California’s Russian River Valley.
And you’re not alone, ya scaredy cat.
California and Burgundy (Pinot’s hallowed ground) are home to delicious wines
and are the regions you know. But you’re really missing out on one of wine’s
most exciting treasures: well-crafted sips that marry New World
strengths—bright, vivid fruit and natural, juicy acidity—with Burgundian
finesse, detail, texture and herb and truffle nuances.
But, again, you’ve heard this all before. The only true cure for a case of
Oregon-Pinot Phobia is to taste them.
Here are five Willamette Valley bottles that will change your wine life for
The Proof Is In The Pinot
- Brick House 2012 Cuvée du Tonnelier; $45, 94 points. Like
many elite wineries in Burgundy, Brick House farms biodynamically. This wine is
loaded with black cherry and cassis fruit, to be sure, but also with veins of
cola, moist earth, chocolate and espresso. Brick House is in the tiny Ribbon
Ridge AVA, within the larger Willamette AVA, and home to several of Oregon’s
- Sokol Blosser 2012 Big Tree Block, $70; 94 points. Located
within the Willamette subappellation of Dundee Hills, Big Tree is farmed
organically. This effort dials in the wine’s terroir, boasting dense black
cherry, cassis and dark chocolate flavors, streaked with graphite and tar. It’s
expressive, long and compact, with pinpoint focus.
- Penner-Ash 2012; $48, 92 points. If delicacy and suppleness
are two of Pinot’s defining qualities, Lynn Penner-Ash’s wines express those
attributes beautifully. The mouthfeel is soft and supple, and the delicate
balance of fruit, acid and barrel never lets you down, from first sniff to last
- Ponzi 2012; $40, 91 points. All of Ponzi’s wines display an
elegant and sensitive hand at the helm. Many are small batches consisting of
just a few barrels, but this 8,000-case effort captures much the same complexity
and depth of detail, with a deft mix of briary berry, mineral, pepper, chocolaty
barrel notes and fine-grained tannins.
- Scott Paul 2012 La Paulée; $39, 91 points. Over the past
nine vintages, this cuvée has a proven track record for quality, with an average
score of 91. Admire its pretty scents of rosewater, raspberries and cherries,
its forward fruit and delicate frame. Then watch it put on weight and complexity
as it breathes; $39.
- Evening Land; $70, 98 points! Our 6th
choice (Located in the Inn at the Red Hills, Dundee & in Salem) received
Oregon's 1st 98 pt. wine. Pinot noir Eola-Amity Hills Seven Springs Vineyard
La Source 2012.
1st & 2nd Team Oregon Pinot Noir All-Americans
2014 Oregon Pinot Noir First Team All-Americans
2014 Oregon Pinot Noir Second Team All-Americans
2014 Value Priced Oregon Pinot Noir First Team All-Americans
2014 Value Priced Oregon Pinot Second Team All-Americans