Sure-Bet Splurges

Image: Nick Stokes

The Pro: Erica Landon

The powerhouse behind Walter Scott Wines is also an instructor for Portland’s Wine & Spirits Archive and crafts the wine lists at Bluehour, Clarklewis, 23Hoyt, Saucebox, Tabla, and Castagna. Here, she recommends five go-to bottles for indulging with confidence.


2011 Pinot Noir • Casteel Reserve • Eola-Amity Hills • $60

Every year for a decade, the Casteel family has chosen a few barrels that best express the vintage to create their sought-after Casteel Reserve. The 2011 selection shows stunning balance with intense concentration, low alcohol, and vibrant acidity, teeming with notes of blackberries, black currant, and cherries.

2. Antica Terra

2011 Pinot Noir • Botanica • Willamette Valley • $75

In 2005, Maggie Harrison made a leap of faith, leaving the famed Sine Qua Non winery in California’s Ventura County to move her family to the Willamette Valley. It paid off. Thanks to her boldness and skill, Harrison has become known for silky, supple wines like this one, boasting a lush texture and concentrated flavors of black cherries and blood orange, with hints of rose.

3. Cowhorn Vineyard

2009 Reserve Syrah • Applegate Valley • $45

Bill and Barbara Steele broke ground in Southern Oregon in 2003 and quickly discovered that their land was covered in layers of river stones reminiscent of France’s Rhône Valley. They planted Rhône varietals like Syrah, grenache, and viognier—and today their wines are drawing national attention. This bottle offers a balance of power and elegance, with notes of blueberries, black plums, and black cherries layered with dark chocolate, baking spice, and hints of vanilla.

4. J. Christopher

2012 Über-Sauvignon • Croft Vineyard • Willamette Valley • $35

With their single-vineyard über-sauvignon, Jay and Ronda Somers have taken their passion for Old World–style elegance to the next level. This extremely limited bottling (just 166 cases) was aged in acacia wood for eight months, resulting in a mineral-driven wine with aromas of grapefruit, jasmine, and wet stones, bracing acidity, and a refined texture.

5. Cameron Winery

2011 Clos Electrique Blanc • Willamette Valley • $60

Sourced from Cameron’s organically farmed Clos Electrique estate vineyard, this age-worthy chardonnay is winemaker John Paul’s ode to the rich white wines of Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune. Offering a full body with bright acidity, it’s a bottle you won’t soon forget.

Best Bargains

Image: Nick Stokes

The Pro: Dan Beekley

At his bottle shop CorksCru Wine Merchants, this approachable oenophile showcases small-label gems at unbeatable prices. His new project, Remedy Wine Bar, opened in June 2013 on the North Park Blocks with a similar message. Here, he reveals five budget-friendly bottles you can rely on.

1. Alexana Winery

2012 Riesling • Revana Vineyard • Dundee Hills • $28

This rich, complex Alsatian-style Riesling marks founder Madaiah Revana’s relatively young winery as one to watch. Crafted by lauded winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash, this bone-dry and delicious bottle will convert even the most adamant Riesling skeptic. 

2. Dominio IV

2011 Viognier • Still Life • Oregon • $22

Using biodynamically farmed Southern Oregon fruit at their small McMinnville winery, Patrick Reuter and Leigh Bartholomew offer stunning wines at amazing prices. A quintessential viognier with aromatic fireworks of lavender, honeysuckle, and white peaches, this rich, mouthwatering wine drinks like chardonnay’s sexy younger sister. 

3. Jan-Marc wine Cellars

2010 Merlot • Kortge Vineyard • Columbia Gorge • $22

Bursting with plummy richness, this bottle will make you forget what you thought you knew about merlot. Sourced from old vines near The Dalles in the Columbia River Gorge, this is a truly small-production find: just 31 cases were bottled in Jan-Marc and Barbara Baker’s “two-car winery” in North Portland.

4. Matzinger Davies wine company

2012 Sauvignon Blanc • Gorgeous Savvy • Columbia Gorge • $18

This clean, crisp, and citrusy creation from power couple Anna Matzinger (longtime winemaker at legendary Archery Summit) and Michael Davies (New Zealand–born winemaker at A to Z and Rex Hill) sips like a dream, with herbal notes and fresh minerality. 

5. RoxyAnn Winery

2009 Claret • Rogue Valley • $26

Red Bordeaux blends—featuring cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, and petite verdot—are referred to as claret in the UK, but this chocolaty, rich pour with plenty of deep fruit flavors is all-American. The grapes hail from an estate vineyard near Medford called Hillcrest Orchards, which also grows pears, peaches, and apples.