- •Prized Pinot
- •Sure-Bet Splurges
- •Best Bargains
- •Whimsical Whites
- •Southern Oregon Stars
- •New Wave Chardonnay
- •Breathtaking Bubbles
- •The New Class
- •The Biodynmaic Brigade
The New Class
The Pro: Brianne Day
Over the past five years, Day served as Riffle NW’s wine director, lent a hand in the cellars of Belle Pente, Scott Paul, WillaKenzie Estate, Grochau Cellars, Murdoch James Estate, and more, not to mention launching her own fledgling label, Day Wines. We asked her to take a moment to showcase a few of her next-generation winemaking compatriots.
2010 Pinot Noir • Maresh Vineyard • Dundee Hills • $60
After years crafting high-end wines at Torii Mor, Hamacher, the Eyrie Vineyards, and Scott Paul Wines, in 2007 Kelley Fox launched her own label focusing on single-vineyard pinot noirs. In this beautiful release, she harnesses the deep-rooted power of 40-year-old Maresh vines, balanced with her own light touch, for a fresh but substantial bottle with notes of ripe berries, exotic spices, and a touch of savory smoke.
2. Ovum Wines
2012 Riesling • Memorista • Willamette Valley • $25
Crafted by John House and Ksenija Kostic House, lovers of aromatic white varieties with refined texture and terroir, this bottle offers notes of sweet white peaches on the nose, turning stony and mineral-rich on the palate. Extended contact with lees (yeast deposits) brings out a nutty, graham-like flavor, while lively acid puts the whole package into focus.
2012 Pinot Meunier • Borgo Pass Vineyard • Willamette Valley • $26
Olga and Barnaby Tuttle are inspired by the cool-climate varietals of Germany and have rapidly earned a reputation for unexpected, charming wines. Barnaby has described their red wines as “white wines in drag”—a concept perfectly captured in this light-bodied, feminine wine with flavors of raspberry, nettle, moss, and ferns.
4. Bow & Arrow
2012 Rhinestones • Willamette Valley • $23
Scott and Dana Frank looked to France’s Loire Valley to craft this joyful blend of pinot noir and gamay noir, an inspiration that’s on display in the wine’s rustic tannins and sprightly acid. The aroma and flavors are much more homegrown: think raspberries, rich forest soil, and ripe Hood River cherries.
2011 Pinot Blanc • Yamhill Valley Vineyards • McMinnville • $16
Eugene native Sterling Whitted aims to craft honest, delicious wines that allow the fruit to speak—and he hits the mark with this lively bottle. At first sniff this pinot blanc shows Meyer lemon and hay, and then opens up with a deeper layer of earthy smoke.
The Biodynmaic Brigade
The Pro: Michael Garofola
At Southeast Portland’s Genoa, white-tablecloth service is enriched with storytelling from this Court of Master Sommeliers–certified pro. Here, Garofola tells the tales of Oregon’s best biodynamic vineyards—where holistically minded farmers embrace a beyond-organic system that harnesses the interrelationship between soil, vines, animals, and the phases of the moon.
1. Beaux Frères
2011 Pinot Noir • Beau Frères Vineyard • Ribbon Ridge • $80
This elegant, deep ruby pour from winemaker Michael Etzel hails from the estate vineyard’s own-rooted, biodynamically farmed Pommard and Wädenswil grape clones. Complex, dark, and full of beautiful red fruit and floral aromas, this wine proves the power behind low yields and intentional farming.
2010 Pinot Noir • Swan Song • Willamette Valley • $45
Sourced from a dying vineyard—where yields from old plantings are shrinking every year due to the scourge of phylloxera—this wine is a bittersweet testament to Montinore’s Demeter-certified biodynamic estate. An honest representation of the quirky 2010 vintage, the Swan Song offers notes of orange, Campari, and bright red fruit.
2011 Pinot Noir • 3 Degrees • McMinnville • $18
Sourced exclusively from the Demeter-certified biodynamic Momtazi vineyard in the McMinnville foothills, this wine offers stunning flavors at an unbeatable price. Gobs of bright red fruit, spice, and bitter cherry meet a streak of acidity for a food-friendly bottle you can stock up on.
2011 Pinot Noir • Cuvée du Tonnelier • Ribbon Ridge • $45
Biodynamic legend Doug Tunnell crafts this layered wine from own-rooted Pommard vines planted in 1990. Expressive, lively, and packed with red fruit, spice, and earthy perfume, this offering is balanced by a welcomed backbone of funk characteristic of the maturing Ribbon Ridge estate.
2011 Pinot Noir • Legacy • Dundee Hills • $75
Drawing from the LIVE-certified Winderlea estate vineyard’s 30-year-old own-rooted vines, this wine combines the freshness of the 2011 vintage with well-integrated tannins and mature, nuanced flavors of tobacco, cocoa, and malt for a surprisingly structured sip with a finish that lasts and lasts.
A Biodynamic Glossary
- Demeter-certified vineyard:A site that has received official recognition from Demeter International, the leading third-party biodynamic certification organization in the world.
- LIVE-certified sustainable: LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) provides third-party recognition to wineries in Oregon and Washington that protect watershed resources and use sustainable farming and winemaking practices.
- Phylloxera: A tiny insect responsible for the devastation of European-varietal vines worldwide. While historically a European calamity, the louse is now making its way to the Pacific Northwest.
- Own-rooted: Grapevines planted without being grafted onto phylloxera-resitant rootstock. Many wine lovers believe own-rooted vineyards better express terroir and varietal characteristics.