Probably many of us know little about Oregon wineries, unless we are a pinot lover. It is a very nice place to visit, with many wineries or tasting rooms in the McMinnville area. For those of you that are geographically challenged, here is a Google Map of the area.
French winemakers have recognized the suitability to grow and produce quality Pinot Noir, and have set up wineries in Oregon. The coastal fog helps moderate the temperature, which Pinot Noir prefers. But there is more than just Pinot Noir.
What Are the Top 5 Grape Varieties in Oregon 2011?
The top 5 are:
- Pinot Noir (12,560 planted acres)
- Pinot Gris (2,590 planted acres)
- Chardonnay (950 planted acres)
- Riesling (700 planted acres)
- Cabernet Sauvignon (640 planted acres)
It is interesting that there are 3 white varieties with higher acreage compared to the ever-popular Cabernet. There are also other grapes, just not shown in this list. One that I will cover is Pinot Blanc.
My Pinot Noir Picks
Archery Summit Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir 2009 ($64.99). I’ve been to Archery Summit’s winery in the past. It is in a beautiful location on a hill with vineyards around it, and roses on the end of the rows to help identify any diseases in the vineyard. This wine is currently available as a spec, with another one, which I talk about next is coming soon. This wine was pale garnet in colour. Juicy dark fruit and some caramel on the nose. Medium-plus body. Very juicy raspberry and some smoke, spice and chocolate flavours too. Long finish. A quality wine.
- Archery Summit Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir 2009 ($115. Coming soon.) Deep ruby in the glass. Juicy raspberry nose. Full body, spicy, with raspberries and red cherry flavours throughout the length, and nutmeg showing up mid-late on your palate. The flavours of this wine are very intense. A wonderful wine. One of my favourites.
- Domaine Drouhin Cuvee Laurene Pinot Noir 2008. Medium garnet in colour. Smokey, cherry nose. Medium body with very nice mouthfeel. Cherries and nutmeg on the palate. An elegant Pinot.
- Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir 2008 ($49.99). A wine 5 years old already, and I think has many more years of enjoyment. It is light to medium garnet in the glass. Light vanilla and red cherry aromas. Medium body, with raspberries and vanilla, leading to dark cherry flavours. Dry. Very nice. Another favourite wine for me.
King Estate Winery Estate Signature Pinot Noir 2010 ($36.99). King Estate is the largest or one of the largest wineries in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean poor quality. They produce very good Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They use organic and sustainable farming methods. Their Pinot Noir had light aromas of vanilla, red cherries and eucalyptus. Medium minus body with a light mouthfeel. Raspberries, some tea leaves flavours, with spice showing up mid-palate. A quality wine!
- Patricia Green Cellars Bishop Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 ($48). As the name states, this is a single vineyard wine, which should help bring out the terroir of the area in the wine. Medium-plus garnet colour. Very light red fruit nose. Light plus body but very tasty ripe cherries and violets in your mouth. Dry. Elegant.
- Shea Wine Cellars Estate Pinot Noir 2010 ($54.99). This wine has a very interesting nose with lavender and light red cherries. Medium minus body, dry with ripe red cherries and vanilla. There is a hint of spice showing up mid-palate. Another elegant wine.
My Other Wine Picks (or Anything But Pinot Noir)
Amity Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2008 ($19.99). Pinot Blanc has very little production in Oregon, but this one is very tasty, and different compared to the Pinot Blanc from the BC Okanagan Valley. This one has lots of ripe stone fruit and vanilla on the nose. High acidity, light body, with citrus and stone fruit. Long finish with a lingering taste of apples on your tongue. Very elegant. Compared to BC, I think this is a bigger wine, with more stone fruit flavour.
- Adelsheim Vineyards Caitlin’s Reserve Chardonnay 2010 ($n/a). Vanilla and tropical fruit nose. Medium body, with quite a round mouthfeel. Tropical fruit with some oak in the background. Another elegant wine.
- Crowley Wines ‘4 Winds’ Chardonnay 2010 ($53.90 at Marquis). Pale lemon in colour. Very light lemon and honey nose. Light body, high acid with medium citrus flavour and some light vanilla. This wine feels fresh in your mouth and has a long finish. Very nice.
Dobbes Family Estate Viognier 2011 ($34.99 coming soon). Again, Viognier, not a high production grape in Oregon, but this is a fantastic wine. Very aromatic in the glass with orange, peach and green herbal aromas. Quite a variety of aromas. Medium body, round and dry in the mouth. Stone fruit with sweet spices behind. Very tasty.
- Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay 2010 ($31.99). Madame Drouhin names some of her wines after her children. This one is for her son Arthur. Light lemon colour, with light vanilla and tropical fruit nose. Light body with medium mouthfeel. Light tropical fruit, citrus, oak and spice flavours. I really liked this wine. It is quite complex and elegant.
- Firesteed Cellars Riesling 2008 ($17.99 coming soon). This wine has light apple and petrol on the nose. Medium minus body, off-dry and round in the mouth. Quite fruity, with petrol flavour. If you aerate this wine and wait for it, you will get a nice mineral finish.
- J. Daan Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc 2009 ($n/a). This is a small family winery, making wines they love. I believe Megan is the Cab Franc lover in the family. This wine is deep ruby in the glass. Vanilla, cherry and cedar aromas. Nice nose. Medium-plus body, with chocolate, black cherries, cedar and vanilla. Medium acid with a firm tannic finish. I really like this. It would be interesting to compare with a BC Cab Franc.
- Benton-Lane Winery Pinot Gris 2009 ($27.99). Watery colour. Light, smokey, flinty nose. Light body with an interesting mouthfeel. It has some pepperiness but it is encapsulated in the roundness of the wine. Citrus flavour.
An Interesting Observation
Through this tasting, for the Pinot Noir wines, I kept coming up with nutmeg aromas and/or flavours. It could be a result of the barrels that these wineries choose, or maybe it is part of the terroir? I do find that in other wine tastings for different regions of the world, that sometimes a certain aroma or flavour does keep appearing. I’m not talking about the predominant aromas or flavours of a particular grape, but other subtle aromas and flavours. Have you had this experience? If so, please let me know here in the blog. I am always interested to hear about other peoples’ experiences.
Thank you to House Wine Girls and the United States of America Consulate for making this event possible.