Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ten Best Oregon Pinot Noirs

This is new this year. The Washington lists are coming. I know you might expect the most famous names from the Willamette Valley, but in my opinion these are some of the best Oregon Pinot Noir producers. We have tasted numerous wines from these wineries with Bob and Kathy Tovey this past year. This is not a list to be set in stone. Wineries have varying success in different vintages, winemakers change, etc. All I can tell you is that we had fabulous wines from the wineries on this list and some not so fabulous wines from some others. These are listed in no particular order and not ranked.

1) Lachini - Ron Lachini produces big wonderful Pinots comparable to the best Nuits St. Georges and Vosne Romanee wines.

2) Tori Mor - Frenchman Jacques Tardy hails from a prominent Burgundian winemaking family and makes wines of character very similar to French Burgundy

3) Eyrie - With the passing of pioneer David Lett the torch is passed to his very able son Jason, who will continue the tradition of experimentation started by his father. Jason's Black Cap is a big, inky wine reminiscent of old style Burgundy from the 1950s and 1960s

4) De Ponte - French winemaker, Isabelle Dutarte hails from Provence, and makes delightful , elegant, nuanced wines.

5) Drouhin - The Burgundian Drouhin family chose some of the best south facing land for their Oregon wines. The regular Pinot Noir is a delightfully elegant, lighter-styled wine that could easily come from the Cotes de Beaune. The 1992 was still going strong in 2002. The Chardonnay tastes like the real thing, like a Meursault or Chassagne Montrachet.

6) Panther Creek - Winemaker Micheal Stevenson produces excellent vineyard designate Pinots. Our favorites are the Bednarick and Freedom Hill.

7) Stevenson Barie - Michael also produces wine under his own label. Watch for this up and comer.

8) Winderlea - "I.T.", or was it finance types, from the East Coast escaped just in the nick of time to the Willamette Valley where they purchased the Goldschmitt vineyard and started producing outstanding wine right from the get go in their new, modernistic winery.

9) Maresh - Oregon pioneer grapegrower Jim Maresh, now makes his own Pinot. Check out this well kept secret.

10) Ken Wright - Last but not least, Ken Wright is as close as you can come to a "cult wine" in Oregon. If you get on his mailing list you can taste great vineyard designate wines from about a dozen different Willamette vineyards. Whright also makes an outstanding Chard from Celilo Vineyrad in Washington. Who says there is no such thing as Terroir?


  • At 10:01 AM, Blogger Bill said…

    I had found Youngberg Hill last year during our annual Thanksgiving wine weekend. We normally stop in the crazy Dundee area and had never broken through until we had enough of the crowded tasting rooms. What a wonderful find it was to stumble upon this little spot in heaven. The Inn, the WINE!, and the owners were wonderful. I cant wait to see and taste more of their wine offers. A great place to discover.

  • At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow! Where is Thomas? By far in the top 3 of the state! Please find it, drink it, and give you impression!

  • At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Mouton Noir said…

    I will for sure seek out the wines from Lachini-what about the wines from Cameron?

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Vincent Fritzsche said…

    With number 9, do you actually mean Arterberry Maresh? That's Jim Areterberry Maresh's newish label, as opposed to the family's Maresh Red Barn wines. The names get confusing, but a key thing with the Arterberry Maresh label is that young Jim is carrying on the original Arterberry label his late father started in the '80s. Those wines got high acclaim at the time, and the '83 Arterberry was going strong when I last tried it a few years ago. A legend is reborn.

  • At 3:37 PM, Blogger Angelo said…

    What about Shea? I've a couple of their pinots, and even the 'low end' Estate Vineyards was spectacular...


  • At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If you are in the mood for one of Oregon's finest pinot noirs, an undiscovered, non-advertised, and non-distributed Pinot Noir that comes from one of the oldest vineyards in Oregon--try Pfeiffer's 2008 Blue Dot Reserve. Stunning wine, framed in oak, not saturated, full of blackberry and raspberry and spice. Superb! They should never put it out to competitions, so you don't hear about it.


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