Oregon Wine: Ten Top Trends from 2012

Eyrie Vineyards Marguerite Pinot noir 20001 – Wines of the Year -
The release of Eyrie’s library Pinot noirs

For decades David Lett, Oregon wine pioneer, cellared his finest wines. In 2012 son Jason Lett released them, creating a once in a lifetime opportunity to drink Oregon wine history.

We recommend David Lett’s very special cuvee made to celebrate his granddaughter’s birth :
Eyrie Vineyards Marguerite Pinot noir 2000
$76.45 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($84.95 retail)

Also recommended:  1998, 1997, 2001, our choices for wines still available from the 29 South Block Pinot noir vintages. These wines are EXTREMELY limited.

Thomas Gerrie Pinot noir 20092 – A New Generation -
A new group of second generation Willamette Valley winemakers made waves this year taking on major roles in their family’s wineries and striking out on their own. Jared Etzel, son of Beaux Freres co-owner and winemaker Mike Etzel, is the brand new General Manager and Winemaker of a Dundee Hills winery and vineyard (so new it doesn’t even have a name). Jared’s younger brother, Mikey Etzel is winemaker for former Evening Land owner Mark Tarlov’s new project. Thomas Gerrie, son of Cristom owner Paul Gerrie released his first solo effort this year.  Finally, Jim Maresh, the third generation to be involved with the Maresh family vineyards and has his own Arterberry Maresh label has taken on the duties of winemaker for the family’s new Powell Hill Winery.

For an outstanding example of a next-gen wine, we suggest  the first Pinot noir from Thomas Gerrie, son of Cristom owner Paul Gerrie.
Thomas Gerrie Pinot noir 2009
$21.55 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($24 retail)

Arterberry Maresh Chardonnay 20103 – Oregon Chardonnay Crusaders -

Here at Avalon, we’ve been Oregon Chardonnay Crusaders for years.  Astoundingly good Chardonnay made from a minuscule number of old vines is snatched up by those who’ve seen the light.  One of the best, made from a scant row of 30+ year old vines, is:

Arterberry Maresh Maresh Vineyard Chardonnay 2010
$67.45 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* (Retail $74.95)

Thomas Gerrie4 – New Wineries and Changes -
Thomas Gerrie (at right), Sweet Earth, Walnut Hill (part of Toluca Lane), Ellanelle, and Fjellene released standout first wines. de Lancellotti has a new winemaker, Robert Brittan, and a new entry level Pinot noir, La Famiglia. Brad Ford completed his second vintage at Illahe and became an insider’s darling.
Evening Land Vineyards bought a winery in France and brought a Pouilly Fuisse and a Bourgogne Blanc, among other French wines, to Oregon. Laura Volkman sold her vineyard and winery. Mark Tarlov has a new project. Robert Roy, co-owner of Beaux Freres, and his son, have purchased a hazelnut orchard on Worden Hill Road. (Jared Etzel, as noted above, is GM and Winemaker.) The Maresh Family, owners of the famed Maresh Vineyard, have started their own winery, Powell Hill. Owen Roe bought their Union Gap Vineyard in Yakima Valley and are breaking ground on a new winery nearby.

5 – “Clustering” -
Whether it’s Portland’s Urban Indies grouping together in shared spaces in the Southeast part of the city, or the expansion of McMinnville’s “Wine Alley” with a new scattering of tasting rooms around the Farmer’s Market, small “Indie” wineries are banding together to share equipment, tasting rooms, marketing, and expertise. The original “cluster” Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, with eight resident wineries, has spawned at least a dozen similar facilities.

Robert Parker6 – Robert Parker sells his Wine Advocate newsletter.
It’s the end of an era as the publication moves to Asian owners and an editor out of Australia. Two of the new owners are reported as having connections to retailers of Bordeaux futures. What happens next is anyone’s guess. In related news, Paul Gregutt, influential and respected wine columnist for the Seattle Times, is rumored to be starting his own winery. Lots of changes. So who will be the new “pundits” of Oregon and Washington wine?

7 – Oregon rules Walla Walla!
More recognition that the best part of the Walla Walla appellation lies in Oregon. New wineries like Ellanelle and Watermill are starting to show that Cayuse is not the only winery with killer vineyards in Milton-Freewater.

8 – Up like a bullet -
Ayoub, Brittan, Erin Nuccio’s incarnation of Evesham Wood, Crowley, Walter Scott, and Arterberry Maresh. Killer scores, wines snapped up in days, waiting lists, national buzz. The future is bright for these up-and-coming stars.

9 – Oregon’s 2010 and 2011: two outstanding vintages in a row.

10 – Avalon celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Hard to believe, but we opened our doors in Corvallis on April 1st, 1987. Thanks to everyone for your business and your support!

The Year in Articles

Some of the highlights of 2012 from our website and blog:

Like Shea? You’ll Love Ebony Pinot noir

Jim Maresh: Grounded and Driven

News from Owen Roe: New Vineyard, Winery, Wines

SF Chronicle Chooses Top Oregon Pinots

Evesham Wood Winery:
Expanding Possibiliities, Solid Tradition, and Remarkable Wines

Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Review: Top Rated Oregon Wines

When the Right Oregon Wine is the Light Oregon WIne

Wine Advocate’s Annual Oregon Wine Reviews

Oregon Wines on Wine Spectator Top 100

Turducken – The Name Says it All

Oregon Winemaking Our Way

Oregon Wine Police: Champagne with Biscuits and Gravy

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