FROM CLASSIC PINOT TO HOT-BLOODED TEMPRANILLO, Oregon wine can hit some amazing highs. But how to choose the best? This year, we asked nine of Portland’s savviest wine pros to pick their favorite current releases. The impressive results span 20 varietals, 11 AVAs, and 25 bottles under $30. From toast-worthy bubbles to Southern Oregon superstars—and, of course, plenty of pinots— there’s never been a better time to be a local wine lover. Cheers to you, Oregon.
- •Prized Pinot
- •Sure-Bet Splurges
- •Best Bargains
- •Whimsical Whites
- •Southern Oregon Stars
- •New Wave Chardonnay
- •Breathtaking Bubbles
- •The New Class
- •The Biodynmaic Brigade
The Pro: Randy Goodman
The longtime wine director of Portland’s pioneering Wildwood Restaurant now owns and operates SE Division Street’s neighborhood bistro Bar Avignon with his wife, Nancy Hunt. Here, Goodman shares his favorite examples of the wine that put Oregon on the world wine map—with plenty of options priced to please.
2010 Pinot Noir • Mineral Springs Ranch • Yamhill-Carlton • $50
Combining the decades-long passion of proprietor Tony Soter and the cellar prowess of winemaker James Cahill, this complex wine showcases a maturing vineyard’s potential for pinot. Sourced from vines at the 32-acre Mineral Springs Ranch—planted by the Soters in 2002—this stunning wine bursts with aromas of black raspberry, cocoa, and earth. Though delicious now, it will age into something spectacular. Pair one bottle with grilled pork tenderloin, and stash away a second to savor in a few years.
2010 Pinot Noir • Reserve • Chehalem Mountains • $45
Oregon newcomer Stephen Goff is quickly earning respect from his well-established neighbors. Rich and concentrated with flavors of dark Bing cherry and smoke, this wine reveals the charms of the 2010 vintage and shows off Goff’s pedigree—he was an assistant winemaker at Beaux Frères from 2001 to 2006.
2011 Pinot Noir • Mt Jefferson Cuvée • Willamette Valley • $30
Produced since 1994, this ever-reliable wine is a testament to winemaker Steve Doerner’s skill. Boasting a blend of fruit from several estate vineyards (most with stellar views of the titular peak), the 2011 vintage is bright and light with aromas of cranberry, pie cherries, and a touch of cinnamon.
2011 Pinot Noir • Willamette Valley • $25
After cutting his teeth at Oregon’s famed Domaine Drouhin, Brad McLeroy has been quietly making delicious pinot from his family’s 38-acre Ribbon Ridge estate since 2000. In this bottle, McLeroy blends estate fruit with grapes from the Eola Hills for a flavorful pour of tart cherries, vanilla, and black plums.
2011 Pinot Noir • Dundee Hills • $26
This wine illustrates why winemaker John Paul’s bottles have been on every wine list at Bar Avignon since it opened: bright and high-toned with zippy acidity, it’s Oregon terroir in a glass, begging for a light chill and a backyard grill fired up with spice-crusted Oregon albacore and charred vegetables.
2011 Pinot Noir • Willamette Valley • $24
Matt Berson wears many hats: he’s the owner, winemaker, and chief bottle washer at Love & Squalor. With this bottle, Berson’s multitasking abilities are on display with sophisticated flavors of red earth, spicy cloves, and cinnamon.
2011 Pinot Noir • Willamette Valley • $24
Bright and juicy with flavors of dried strawberries, cola, and baking spice, winemaker Tyson Crowley’s latest vintage is a crowd-pleaser with a real sense of place. Thanks to a commitment to natural winemaking with certified sustainable fruit, Crowley’s wines reveal the best of the Dundee Hills: elegant, bold, and unflinchingly honest.
2010 Pinot Noir • Estate • Dundee Hills • $35
In 1966, against all advice from the winemaking world, David Lett (a.k.a. “Papa Pinot”) risked it all to plant his young family (and vines) in the Dundee Hills. The winery is now in the very capable hands of his son Jason, whose mastery of the estate’s old vines has resulted in wines like this one—complex, balanced, and rich with plummy fruit.
2011 Pinot Noir • Estate Vineyard • Ribbon Ridge • $30
Patty Green and Jim Anderson founded this landmark winery in 2000, before the Ribbon Ridge AVA was on the map. After years of new plantings (and replantings) of the 52-acre estate, their vineyard is one of the best in the neighborhood. This vintage, the estate’s 12th, shows off the site’s powerful old-vine character, with minerality, subtle tannins, bold ripe raspberries, and spice.
2011 Pinot Noir • Ribbon Ridge • $24
Vincent Fritzsche founded his winery in 2009, and moved to the Southeast Wine Collective in 2012. In this vintage, his low-input approach delivers honest notes of blackberry, vanilla, and earth in each ruby-toned glass, and a long, complex finish lands it squarely as one of the best wine values in the state.