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Articles in category: Wine Reviews
Gone are the days of the wine critic’s monopoly on taste. Here in Oregon, nuance is king, oddball wines are winning, and old-school winemakers are defying expectations with lighter, more eclectic styles. For this year’s annual blind tasting of Oregon’s wide world of wine, we rallied 13 of our favorite grape-stained wretches to uncork more than a thousand bottles. The results were clear: great wine is great wine, regardless of hue, price, or region. We were so pleased and surprised with our final ranking that this year we decided not to divide our list by category, but ...(Read Full Article)
Rex Hill Winery is an easy access stop off Highway 99 before Newberg in theChehalem Mountains AVA. There was some nasty construction going on when we were there (sewer line, we were told), so we were guided around to the back of the building. It was here that we found a delightful and telling snippet of the winery's personality: the employees had garden plots in the back, their names displayed proudly among spices and vegetables. A quick look at who was growing what developed into a quick game of picking the personality in the tasting room. None were ...(Read Full Article)
Who wants more chardonnay?
OK, OK, calm down.
One of every five bottles of wine sold in the United States is chardonnay. With nearly 100,000 acres planted to the variety, California is meeting much of that demand. France, Italy, Chile and several other wine regions also are helping out.
Very little chardonnay from Oregon, however, is reaching the nation’s dining tables. Only about 1,200 acres of chardonnay are in Oregon, the same total as in 2001.
This is peculiar because Oregon is widely respected in wine circles for three other varietal wines that thrive in the same ...
The 2012 Pinot Noir growing season in Willamette Valley was one for the record books, with many suggesting that this will be Oregon's first 100-point vintage. A cool spring made for a small crop set, setting the stage for one of the more miraculous stretch runs in valley history. The summer turned warm and exceedingly dry. Low yields and drought conditions spiked concentration, leading to an early harvest of extreme ripeness — even as acids remained firm and piercing.(Read Full Article)
Only once in the last 20 years can we recall an Oregon vintage that has received so much critical acclaim — Wine ...
At dinner the night before the opening ceremonies of Oregon's annual wine bash — the International Pinot Noir Celebration — the mood among vintners was buoyant. With the release of the phenomenal 2012 Pinot Noirs just around the corner, and critics poised to post the highest scores since Wine Spectator's 97-point 2008 vintage, wineries were preparing for a cash-flow bonanza.(Read Full Article)
Stephen Tanzer, the world's most revered Burgundy critic, got the ball rolling. Often criticized by retailers and wineries for the stinginess of its ratings, Tanzer's International Wine Cellar had just let loose with a 94-point barrage, awarding the ...
There’s a place where all devout pinot-philes go. No – it’s not heaven (the golden slopes of Burgundy) or hell (where MegaPurple flows from the faucets).
It’s the International Pinot Noir Celebration, colloquially IPNC, and widely recognized as the one annual pinot noir event to notmiss. Affectionately and affirmably a Celebration (rather than a conference, forum, festival or event), the festive July event brings consumers, winemakers, sommeliers and pinot fans from around the globe to the campus of Linfield College in McMinneville, Oregon, for weekend of sharing and learning.
The historic school, an easy one hour drive ...(Read Full Article)
Among the six small sub-appellations of the northern Willamette Valley, one of the most fascinating is Yamhill-Carlton.
Based west of the Dundee Hills, Ribbon Ridge and Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Areas, Yamhill-Carlton is horseshoe-shaped appellation that essentially surrounds the towns of Carlton and Yamhill. This is because the AVA is based on elevation – to be in the appellation, a vineyard must be planted between 200 and 1,000 feet above sea level. This makes it the most unusually shaped AVA in Oregon.
Some of Oregon’s finest wine producers are in Yamhill-Carlton, including Ken Wright Cellars, Elk Cove Vineyards, Belle ...(Read Full Article)
The terrain of Oregon's Willamette Valley is made up of bountiful complex micro-climates that play a major role in the dynamism and charisma of the region's variegated Pinot Noirs. These micro-climates offer diverse geology and soils, so the multiple sub AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) of the larger Willamette Valley AVA have been inherent in identifying and outlining the unique characteristics of different wine growing areas.(Read Full Article)
Quite difficult to imagine, most of western Oregon was once the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Over millions of years, extremely tumultuous weather and disastrous geological events, like cataclysmic floods, earthquakes, extreme winds ...
There are rarely easy vintages in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Pinot Noir is a difficult, brooding grape to grow, and this coastal area tucked between the Cascade Mountains and Coast Range is on the edge of viticultural viability.
Yet Oregon grape growers and winemakers persevere. Low-yielding crops, clonal selections and absurdly difficult growing practices go into chasing the most elusive of goals: great Pinot Noir.
In Wine Press Northwest’s latest blind tasting, we focused on Northwest Pinot Noir from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The top four wines — all from Oregon — represented the last four vintages, all of which were ...(Read Full Article)
An Albariño by Umpqua Valley icon Abacela and a Malbec made by Agate Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Point were the clear winners at this year’s Southern Oregon World of Wine competition, a judging panel which featured two Masters of Wine.
The field of 207 wines from 49 wineries was evaluated be Dilek Caner, MW, founder of Tasting World in Dallas, Texas; Amy Christine, MW, of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant and proprietor of Black Sheep Finds in Lompoc, Calif., and Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee columnist. The competition has recruited 12 Masters of Wine to serve on its single, three-person ...(Read Full Article)
Oregon Chardonnay producers are on an expedition. Given that Pinot Noir has done very well in Oregon, logic dictates that Chardonnay should also have the potential to thrive, which they are out to prove.
This reasoning is based on the Burgundian model. In France’s famed Burgundy region, from the Chablis to the Chalonnaise, Chardonnay flourishes, so much so that the finest examples are considered, in their own way, to be just as exalted as their Pinot Noir counterparts.(Read Full Article)
The wine business is relentlessly trendy, so it’s natural to want to dazzle your geekiest pals by pulling out a bottle of “the next big thing.”
Here’s a tip: Everything old is new again.
In Oregon, Pinot Noir rules the reds, no question. But what’s been getting the buzz among Oregon’s white wines? Riesling, the grape that first defined Northwest viticulture in the 1970s.
At a tasting of Knudsen-Erath wines in the late 1980s, it was a 12-year-old Riesling—not a Pinot—that won my heart. It had aged beautifully, with a glorious bouquet of ...(Read Full Article)
Fans of Oregon pinot noir started lining up to get a crack at the best 2012s early on, virtually before the grapes were off the vine. Word got out early that this picture-perfect vintage, which was marred only by a short crop, was going to be one of the all-time greats for the Willamette Valley’s wine industry. Attentive consumers and the trade were ready to jump quickly and rabidly on the top bottlings, especially following the uneven 2011 vintage. Most of the hot collectors’ wines are long gone by now but there are still plenty of truly outstanding, high-value ...(Read Full Article)
A look at some key producers who are making a name for Oregon Chardonnay in the world of fine wines.
Oregon: The Future of U.S. Chardonnay?
Many wine lovers known Oregon as a spot that producers premium Pinot Noir red wine reminiscent of the elegant styles made in some of the best European wine regions. Some have been following Oregon's foray into white wines, with Pinot Gris and Riesling tending to get top billing. But Oregon might just be the next hot spot for west coast U.S. Chardonnay. The following producers are leading the way.
2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: Oregon's First 100-Point Vintage?
In November 2010, Wine Spectator published an article that sent collectors scrambling worldwide. That story described the 2008 vintage in Oregon's Willamette Valley as "perfect" — the first 100-point Pinot Noir vintage in the publication's history.
As the climate in Willamette Valley is well-known for its capriciousness, few in the Pacific Northwest imagined that Nature would soon treat Oregon's winegrowers to another vintage that could challenge 2008. But as we'd learn after our four days at the International Pinot Noir Celebration near the end of July, the ...
13.9% alc., 70 cases, $45-$50. September or October 2014 release. Since 1857, more than 20 sons in the Beckham family have carried the name Dow. The wine honors Andrew Beckham’s father, grandfather and son.From the Beckham Estate Vineyard, a dry-farmed site with rocky volcanic soils at 412 to 568 feet elevation. Clones are 777 and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark cherry, raspberry and earthy flora with a hint ...(Read Full Article)
About every two years, I get an invite to attend the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The event continues to be one of the best run and highest quality wine events in the country, with a fantastic combination of excellent wine and equally fantastic food.
More about Pinot Noir in a day or two.
In addition to attending one of the best wine parties around, IPNC also gives me (and a number of other wine writers) the excuse to do something slightly less expected: taste a lot of Oregon Riesling. Each year following IPNC, the Oregon ...(Read Full Article)
I go to a lot of wine tastings, and have come to really appreciate those that are produced well. It may not be immediately apparent how easily a large public tasting can be screwed up, but it doesn't take much to turn such an event from a pleasure to a chore.
Quite consistently some of my favorite wine tasting experiences have been at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, in McMinnville, Oregon, in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Both afternoons during this event, the "Al Fresco" tasting takes place, in which half of the attending wineries pour a wine ...(Read Full Article)
Willamette Valley produces some mighty fine Pinot noir. The region also produces some great Chardonnay, and vintners planted plenty of it during the post-prohibition era in the 60s and 70s. Yet, many drinkers are not familiar with their whites. There are some interesting experiments going on right now, which are slowly redefining what Oregon Chardonnay is, and what makes it so special.(Read Full Article)
- I was recently in Oregon, for the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, which is a splendid reason to visit Oregon’s wine country, though you don’t need such motivation to be wowed by what you’ll find in McMinnville and the surrounding areas. While tons of Pinot were in fact tasted and consumed during that long weekend, today I want to take a few minutes and discuss that other Burgundian grape, you know the one. It elicits visceral responses in most people, either fawning or frightened. They call it Chardonnay.As it happens, one of the great and ongoing ...(Read Full Article)
One of the most exciting wines of my Oregon trip was also one of the last. It was at Antica Terra with the fabulous Maggie Harrison, on a day in wine country nicely captured in pictures with my travelling companion Elaine Brown here.
When it came to tasting Maggie’s wines, I was a little apprehensive. She was very charming and smart, but she trained with Manfred at Sine Qua Non – wines that are not made in a style that I really enjoy.(Read Full Article)
In 1971, just five years after the first Pinot Noir vines were planted in Willamette Valley, four families — the Kreimeyers, Markleys, Welches and Trenhailes — purchased and broke ground on a breathtaking vineyardperched at 600-800 feet in the foothills of Oregon's Coastal Range.
The original partners didn't know it at the time, but summer days at Hyland Vineyard are cooler than the rest of the valley. More importantly, each evening the wind picks up, ushering in a cool maritime breeze off the Pacific, taking the sting out of the often-blistering summer sun. Over the last 40 years, this ...
The advantages of Oregon’s Willamette Valley in producing superb pinot noir grapes are easy to comprehend: temperatures are moderate during the growing season, the weather is dry and there are about 90 minutes more sun each day than in Northern California. Add in rocky hillside soils, low yields, an artisanal winemaking tradition and family ownership, and it’s a formula for success with a notoriously difficult grape.
Soter Vineyards “North Valley,” Willamette Valley, 2012(Read Full Article)
Quite floral, with notes of cherry blossom and cinnamon, this wine from longtime pinot guru Tony Soter shows the concentration of an atypically ripe 2012 ...
The Rhine River and its tributaries may be the ancestral home to white Riesling, but the noble varietal has found a welcome place in wine regions around the world. Oregon is one of those places where, in the right areas and under the right conditions, growers have become convinced Germany's premier grape can consistently attain excellence if not greatness.(Read Full Article)