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New NW Wine Releases
Fall 2005

Value Pinot noirs
by Jean Yates

It's easy to spend under $25 for a really nice Pinot noir, especially from Oregon. We've tasted through dozens of Oregon Pinot noirs and consulted with our customers, and here are the wines that keep coming up as our top picks. Interesting, the quality/price leaders are generally small producers with great local reputations but little to no distribution outside Oregon. These winemakers are not new to the business, just operate "below the radar" of Wine Spectator and such.

720 Cellars Pinot noir 03 $17.05/$18.95
Lots of wine for the price from a tiny winery in Philomath, Oregon. Upon opening, the distinct scent of typical Pinot noir barnyard prevails, although it blows off quickly. The flavors are rich, with red raspberry dominant. Undercurrents of fine, well integrated tannins are evident boith at initial taste and as the wine opens in the mouth. Surprising and pleasing, made from Chris Heider, owner and winemaker's two acre vineyard. Recommended.

O'Reilly Pinot noir 04 $14.40/$16.00
I know you've seen this one before, but it continues to be the under $25 Pinot noir most often mentioned as the "King of Deals". We still have the wine, it comes to us direct from the winery. It's drinking so well, typically "over-the-top" rich flavors in true Owen Roe/David O'Reilly style.

McKinlay Pinot noir Willamette Valley 03 $13.49/$14.99
Matt Kinne makes small lots of carefully crafted Pinot noir and then sells it for a low low price. His simple labels and utter lack of marketing might make you pass this one by, but as our local Oregon customers know, this wine is a super deal. blend of 02 and 03 Pinot noir, generous, rounded, medium-big- full of red and black berry flavors, Matt's usual outstanding value.

Ransom Pinot noir Barrel Select 02 $19.80/$22.00
Corvallis-based Ransom makes both wine and grappa- and brings an intense focus to both. This is a big wine with earthy aromas of cedar, sandalwood, pepper, spice, leather, and bing cherry. Made from the best barrels of the best lots of the vintage, from Arbre Vert, Zielinski, and Doe Ridge Vineyards. Unbelieveably, this wine is definitely ageable, made for collecting, but priced for quaffing now! It's big enough that it's still a bit closed, a brooding monster, but the tannins are well balanced, and there's plenty of acidity to balance the fruit for cellaring or having with BIG MEAT from the grill.

Lumos Pinot noir 02 $18.89/$20.99
Continuing to drink wonderfully, this is the "best value" offering of Dai Crisp, who was profiled in our cover story on Temperance Hill Vineyard. The wine has added some weight in the bottle since last tasted, and has even more sweet red fruit, spiciness in the mid-palate, and smooth vanilla oak in the finish. Such a lot of good wine for the price.

Daedalus Pinot noir 03 $21.60/$24
Big spicy nose and lush fruit flavors, but with the transparency to sense complex flavors/ Long finish. Very nice. New release shipping Sept 05. From the winery: "A blend of both Phelps Creek Vineyard in Hood River and several Willamette Valley vineyards. The blend maintains the spicy earthiness of Phelps Creek, but also shows the luscious plumpness of the old vine Pommard from both Arcus and Red Hills vineyards."

Evesham Wood Pinot noir Willamette Valley 04 $15.25/$16.95
Highly recommended, one of the best under $20 Pinot noirs anywhere. Russ Raney is one of Oregon's treasures, making finely crafted, Burgundian styled Pinots year after year from organic, dry farmed vineyards. Shipping September 2005.



About Jean Yates

Jean Yates is owner of Avalon Wine, and has worked to promote Oregon and Washington wine for over 19 years through her wine shop, web site, and articles.

Jean previously worked in the computer industry and does most of the work on the Avalon website. She is a passionate photographer and many of the images on this site are hers



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