Notable white wines are now made under the Brooks label, especially ‘Amycas’ ($15), a blend of pinot gris, pinot blanc, Riesling, and lord knows how many other white wine varieties! Plenty of crisp green apple flavors with good palate persistence. Janie Brooks Heuck, owner; Chris Williams, winemaker.
Making what is now universally regarded as the some of the best pinot noir in the world, Cristom produces several single-vineyard-sourced wines which express a purity of fruit and a laser-focus of crisp red berry flavors. Harvested from a steep, east-facing slope located just above the winery, the single-vineyard Jessie Vineyard pinot noir ($50) offers a touch of spiciness, a floral scent, and raspberry flavors that are at once unique, intriguing, and mouthwatering. Paul and Eileen Gerrie, owners; Steve Doerner, winemaker.
De Ponte Cellars
Both the winery and the vineyard for De Ponte are located between DDO and Archery Summit, and the wines reflect that location, as De Ponte pinots are slightly more supple than Archery Summit wines and slightly more broad-shouldered than DDO wines. Try the Baldwin Family Reserve Pinot ($70), which is richly textured and very long on the palate. One of Oregon’s best and most interesting white wines is also grown and made here, from 30-year-old vines, from a grape variety called melon ($24); it smells like a whiff of salty ocean air and lingers with a richness in the middle of the palate, uniquely the mark of a wine made from older vines. Baldwin family, owners; Isabelle Dutartre, winemaker.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon (a.k.a. DDO)
Try the DDO ‘Laurène’ pinot noir ($65), which is very cellarworthy (take a bottle home and drink it when it is five or even 10 years old) and always complex, with layers of flavors and a silky, supple texture found only in the best pinot noir wines. The difference between the Laurène and the regular DDO pinot noir ($40) is that the Laurène is a “barrel selection” of the top 10 percent of the pinot noir wines made each year at DDO. Véronique, Robert, and Francoise Drouhin, owners; Véronique Drouhin, winemaker; David Millman, manager.
Perennially the source of Oregon’s best value for high quality Pinot Noir, Evesham Wood makes several different wines at a range of prices. One of the best bets is the ‘Les Puit Sec’ (meaning dry well in French and reflective of former owner Russ Raney’s commitment to eschew vineyard irrigation to maximize expression of the uniqueness of each vintage) Pinot Noir, ($36), which has a delicate texture but is full of cherry fruit flavors. Erin & Jordan Nuccio, owners; Erin Nuccio & Russ Raney, winemakers.
Named for the hawks’ nest found in a tree near their original vineyard (Oregon’s oldest pinot noir vineyard, planted in 1967), Eyrie’s best wines are labeled as ‘Reserve’ (or ‘Original Vines Reserve’ in some vintages). Only at the winery tasting room, can you find a bottle of the best wine made at Eyrie in recent vintages, the 2004 Pinot Noir Reserve ($65), which is transparent in color but rich in tart cherry flavors and broad on the palate. Burgundy lovers will swear that the wine was imported from the famous village of Morey-Saint-Denis, home to some of the world’s best pinot noir—which is why the Willamette Valley is now rightly know as “America’s Burgundy.” Diana Lett & Jason Lett, owners; Jason Lett, winemaker.
The pinot noir wines made at Lemelson typically taste like ripe plums, and their best wine is separately bottled from a single vineyard called the Meyer Vineyard ($42), on a steep, east-facing slope situated in the heart of the Dundee Hills near Archery Summit’s Red Hills vineyard and Erath’s Prince Hill vineyard, all three candidates for Grand Cru status among Oregon vineyards. (Grand Cru is the top rating and classification for vineyards in Burgundy, the historic home of pinot noir.) Eric Lemelson, owner; Anthony King, winemaker.
Sourcing their fruit from the marine sedimentary soils of the Yamhill-Carlton District, Lenne’s pinot noir ($45) exhibits a dark cherry flavor that clearly reflect their place of origin: something the French call the expression of terroir. Steve Lutz, owner and winemaker.
The architecturally stunning design of Penner-Ash’s winery matches the consistently high quality of their wines. Their best pinot noir fruit in most nearly every vintage is grown in the Dussin vineyard, which surrounds the east-facing winery. The P-A Dussin bottling ($60) has rich berry notes with a slight leather overtone. Ron and Lynn Penner-Ash, owners; Lynn Penner-Ash, winemaker.