Oregon Wineries Visit Vancouver

Oregon AVA Map (Image courtesy http://www.oregonwinepress.com/abcs-of-oregon-avas)

Oregon AVA Map (Image courtesy http://www.oregonwinepress.com/abcs-of-oregon-avas)

Do you know that the most predominant grape variety grown in Oregon is Pinot Noir? It tops out both red and white grape varieties at 59%.  For white grape varieties, 14% of vineyards grow Pinot Gris and 7% grow Chardonnay. I was very surprised that Chardonnay has half the vineyard coverage to Pinot Gris, as I am more familiar with quality Chardonnay from Oregon.  The Pinot family of grapes prefer a cooler climate, to show off the balance of acidity, fruit aromas and flavours.  These grapes can also handle the heat, but to me are not as exciting in the glass.  Oregon does have two cooler regions, Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley (near the Pacific Coast), where you get the more delicate, finessed wines from the Pinot grape.  As for the amount of wine produced, only 1% of fine wine produced in the USA is from Oregon, but it is from grape varieties I really enjoy.  As you may guess the majority of fine wine comes from California.

I was fortunate to be invited to the 2021 NORTHWEST WINE EXPEDITION in Vancouver, where several wineries from Oregon and Washington state provided us the opportunity to sample a flight of their wines, in a sit-down, socially distanced manner due to COVID.  This was only my second Trade wine tasting in over 18 months.  I really appreciated the effort by these wineries to visit BC and show us their wines.  Most of the wineries in attendance have a presence in BC with a few that need representation.  I tried wines from 3 Oregon wineries and 2 Washington state wineries.  I will cover the Washington wineries in a separate article.

The Oregon Wines I Tasted

I sampled wines from these three Oregon wineries:

Cristom Vineyards is located 43 miles (69 km) from the Pacific Ocean, on the 45 degree north latitude, and planted on a range of volcanic soils in the Eola Hills. They produce primarily different bottlings of Pinot Noir from different vineyards they own, but also produce Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Viognier.  The amount of wine they produce is minuscule. Just 39 barrels for their Eileen Vineyard Pinot Noir, for example. They undertake organic and biodynamic farming principles, agro-ecology, permaculture and integrative pest management methods. 

Domaine Drouhin Oregon has noted they are “Poised atop the Dundee Hills, with gentle slopes that capture the breezes and sunshine, our 235-acre estate overlooking the Willamette Valley produces some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit in the world.” Their winemaking techniques are adapted from what the Drouhin Family has learned in Burgundy since 1880. 

Portlandia Vintners was founded by Damian Davis who was looking for a tech job and stumbled across the Willamette in 1999.  He left his tech job eventually and started the winery in 2008. His goal is to create delicious Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, all while having fun and not paying too much. 

Let me tell you about the wines I tasted.  One thing that I do want to mention are that these wines were opened and did not get any decant time.  For me, some top-tier wines need decant time in order for the aromas and flavours to open up.  In particular, the aromas of the wines almost appear closed or very light intensity, and the aromatics are sometimes hard to decipher (am I smelling cherries, floral, raspberries, etc.?) or you just get one or two identifiable aromas, e.g. red cherries.  The wines from Christom Vineyards, being a premium wine producer, I felt that decanting would have been very beneficial.  Although I enjoyed the wines, I thought that they would have been even more nuanced if there was decant time.

My Wine Tasting Notes

Five different Cristom Vineyards Pinot Noir wines plus a Chardonnay

Five different Cristom Vineyards Pinot Noir wines plus a Chardonnay

Cristom Vineyards Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2019 – Light pale lemon colour.  Light aromas with toast, apple (more) and lemon (less), plus butterscotch.  Light-bodied, soft and dry with apple, toast, sweet spices and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length with lingering flavours. 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars

Cristom Vineyards Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir 2019 – Medium-plus translucent garnet.  Light sweet spice and red fruit nose.  Medium-plus body, soft and round then you get firm drying tannins.  Ripe red fruit and sweet spices, and a hint of floral.  Medium acidity.  Dry firm tannic finish plus sweet fruit. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cristom Vineyards Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 – Medium translucent garnet with a light red fruit nose.  Medium body, dry with light roundness.  Firmer tannins.  Red fruits and cherry syrup.  Very firm tannins pls red fruit on the finish. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cristom Vineyards Eileen Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 – Medium-plus translucent garnet.  Light red cherry and syrup nose.  Medium-plus body with firmer tannins.  Round and dry mouthfeel.  Medium intensity red fruits candied cherries plus a touch of sweet spices.  Medium acidity.  Dry, firm tannic finish and red fruits.  Medium-plus length 4 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars

Try buying these Cristom Vineyards wines at Liberty, Everything Wine, and Marquis.

Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cloudline Pinot Noir, and Rose Rock Pinot Noir wines

Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cloudline Pinot Noir, and Rose Rock Pinot Noir wines

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Arthur Chardonnay 2018 – Medium intensity, bright lemon green. Nice, medium intensity aromas of vanilla, tropical fruit, apples, and butterscotch. Medium body, soft, round, and smooth.  Gets a little bit peppery mid-palate.  Mineral, ripe apples, butterscotch and a touch of sweet spice. An understated wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Cloudline Pinot Noir 2019 – Medium intensity translucent garnet. Red fruits, cranberries, earthiness and light red cherry aromas.  Light body, dry and semi-round.  Herbaceous, dill, red fruit flavours.  Tart cherries and some bitterness on the finish together with a touch of floral.  Medium intensity oak and fine light-grained tannins.  An elegant wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Roserock Pinot Noir 2018 –  Medium-plus intensity translucent garnet colour.  A light intensity nose showing sweet red fruit and vanilla.  Smooth, medium-plus body with a touch of off-dryness.  Medium acidity and very light fine tannins.  Ripe black cherries and other sweet ripe red fruits.  Cinnamon and black pepper on the mid-palate.  The flavours continue to evolve from the start of the sip to the finish.  A sexy wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2018 – Deeply colour garnet, yet still translucent.  A very light (closed?) sweet red fruit nose with a touch of sweet spice. Fuller body, round and dry with medium drying tannins.  Ripe red fruits, some cherry syrup and a touch of sweet spices.  Medium acidity.  Dry tannic finish, oak, plus a mix of tart and sweet red fruits and cherry flavours. 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Domaine Drouhin Oregon wines are available at Everything Wine.  Other private stores may have these wines as well, but you need to ask. The Arthur Chardonnay and Dundee Hills Pinot Noir are available at select BC Liquor stores.

Portlandia Vintners Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines

Portlandia Vintners Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines

Portlandia Vintners Pinot Noir 2019 – Medium intensity, dull garnet colour. Nice aromas; sweet spices, herbaceous, dill, and red cherries. Off-dry?, round and smooth with light tannins and acidity.  Dill, sweet spices, nutmeg and red fruit flavours.  Medium length with nutmeg, red fruit and medium intensity tannins. 4 out of 5 stars

Portlandia Vintners Pinot Gris 2020 – Pale lemon.  Light stone fruit nose.  Off-dry, round, with a light body. Light stone fruit and lemon flavours along with a touch of honey, and a light acidic prickle. 3.5 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars

Portlandia Vintners Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 – Medium intensity translucent garnet.  Light nose with red fruit, candied fruit and sweet spice aromas.  Dry, smooth with a medium-plus body and thicker mouthfeel.  Sweet spices, syrupy cherry followed by red cherries on the finish.  Firmer tannic finish with sweet fruit flavours. 3.5 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars

I am not sure which private stores carry Portlandia Vintners wines. You will need to contact your local bottle shop.

Watch for Part Two of the 2021 NORTHWEST WINE EXPEDITION where I will cover wines fro Washington state.

Thanks to Top Drop Canada for bringing the 2021 NORTHWEST WINE EXPEDITION to Vancouver, and thanks to the Vancouver Club for keeping us all socially distanced and safe from COVID exposure.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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