NW Wine Releases
by Jean Yates
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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