The 13 Best Oregon Pinot Noirs

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Today, more than 600 Oregon wineries in 18 designated wine-growing areas regularly produce award-winning red wines. Wine enthusiast Madeline Puckett at Wine Folly describes Oregon red wines as “nuanced, subtle, with high acidity that don’t always explode with lusty fruit”—a key distinction from neighboring California wines, but equally popular among wine-lovers and winegrowers alike. What’s the reason behind the unique flavors of Oregon red wines?

According to Puckett, in the state’s northern latitude, grapes enjoy the benefits of prolonged sunlight, while the cool nights help preserve freshening acidity. The result—grapes that “achieve mature, balanced flavors, and full varietal character.” So which Oregon Pinot Noirs stand out from the crowd? Here’s a brief round-up, based on various wine experts’ tastes and the vintage they selected.

The Best of 2012

It’s widely agreed that 2012 was an excellent year, so let’s start with selections from Paul Gregutt at Wine Enthusiast magazine :
  • Pinot Noir, Trinity Vineyards – A spicy wine with hints of raspberry, licorice, and black cherry flavors
  • Pinot Noir, Rex Hill – A beguiling vintage with a balance and acidity that’s “just right”
  • Barrel Select Pinot Noir, River’s Edge – A high-alcohol barrel selection with 50% new oak
  • Thea’s Selection Pinot Noir, Lemelson – An elegant and well-proportioned wine
  • Cuvée Pinot Noir, Youngberg Hill Vineyards – An expansive, full-bodied, and less costly choice

The Best of 2011

A panel of experts convened by The New York Times selected Soter Vineyards North Valley Cuvée as their top choice, “a deep, earthy, deliciously tangy wine.” They also singled out the following:
  • Soléna, McMinnville Hyland Vineyard – Complex flavors of red fruit and minerals, with “a sleek, almost gossamer structure”
  • Ribbon Ridge Les Dijonnais, Brick House – A delicate taste offering hints of rose petal and meadow flowers
  • Willamette Valley, Beaux Frères – Stylish and elegant, with a pure, fresh, medium-bodied taste
  • Willamette Valley, Evening Land – Also pure and elegant, with sumptuous textures 

The Best of 2010

This year’s vintage was very small, but according to Avalon Wines, “There were many special wines produced—the best will have a very long life in your cellar, ranging from 10-15 years.” Here are the top choices from Katie Kelly Bell, a Forbes contributor and former senior editor at The Wine Report:
  • Janus Brooks, Williamette Valley – Offering “soft notes of mushroom and truffle” together with cherry and exotic spices
  • Patton Valley Estate, Williamette Valley – Featuring the tastes of plum, warm spices, and dark earth
  • Carabella Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains – Nurtured in volcanic soils, with a heady violet perfume
oregon-red-wine Source: Oregon Wine Press

According to Wine Enthusiast, “Oregon’s best efforts meld the elegance, higher acidity, and longevity of Burgundy with the bright fruit flavors of California.” With this kind of allure, Oregon’s 400 wine-tasting rooms are quickly becoming a wine-lovers’ mecca, with related tourism adding an estimated $207.5 million in revenues to the state’s economy. Start planning your Oregon Wine Country visit and if you have a favorite from the list, cast your vote below! Main Image Source: Oregon State University Which is the best Pinot Noir from Oregon?