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SF Chronicle Chooses Top Oregon Pinot noirs


Yesterday the San Francisco Chronicle praised Oregon’s 2010 Pinot noirs:

“The wines aren’t simply excellent; they show a concentration and depth that rise from being simply pleasurable to being profound…a vintage to cherish…a true sense of Oregon-ness.”

Here are the Chronicle’s top picks:

Beaux Freres beaux Freres Estate Pinot noir 2010Beaux Freres
Beaux Freres Vineyard 2010

$67.45 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($74.95 retail)
SF Chronicle TOP WINE
Wine Spectator 93 Points
Tanzer 94 Points
Wine Enthusiast 94 Points

Beaux Freres has been on the edge of ambition in Oregon, but Mike Etzel is also making good on those ambitions, with pristine biodynamic farming of his 88-acre Ribbon Ridge site. An immensely pleasing, profound wine. Full of heady sage and birch bark, with raspberry, wild strawberry and a classy oak note that comes across as a subtle toast element. – the Chronicle

I’ve been working on my tasting note for a week and it’s still confounding me. The 2010 has so much presence. At the time of release, there isn’t a Beaux Freres Pinot that’s impressed me more. The rich texture and weight are stunning, especially when combined with the vivid fruit and lower alcohol. Aromatic intrigue, depth and balance. To me, it has the best traits of each of the last 10 vintages. – Marcus

If the Beaux Freres 2010 Willamette Valley is the more hedonistic then this is the more intellectual older sibling – showing its breeding as well as restraint. Medium ruby color,aromatically very pure nose of sweet and sour cherries, red currants, pomegranate and even a refreshing touch of ruby red grapefruit. Reminds us of a red-fruited, Cote de Beaune. Medium bodied, elegant, pure and racy. The tannins are extremely well integrated, balanced by zesty acid. This is a sleek, lithe, yet subtly muscular Pinot. This cuvee should age well for 8-12 years. – Wine Enthusiast

Evesham Wood le Puits Sec Pinot noir 2010Evesham Wood
Le Puits Sec 2010

$32.40 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($36.00 retail)
#2 Recommendation SF Chronicle
94 Points Portland Monthly

For me, few wineries capture the transparency of Oregon flavors like this longtime producer, founded in 1986 and now owned by Erin Nuccio. The 2010 Puits Sec marks a transition year to Nuccio’s hand. Gorgeous and deft – with a Volnay-like light touch. Bing cherry, dried sachet, watermelon rind and a distinct minerality. – the Chronicle

Like the best 2010s, this smells incredible. Effusive red fruit, red licorice, cinnamon, hints of Douglas fir. The entry is beautiful and silky, with creamy cherry and dark berry gliding from the tip of your tongue to the back of your throat. Le Puits Sec is an elegant wine with penetrating persistence. While it’s irresistible today, cellaring for 2-6 years (or longer, if you like) will make magic. – Marcus

Raptor Ridge Pinot noir Willamette Valley 2010Raptor Ridge
Willamette Valley 2010

$22.45 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($24.95 retail)
#3 Recommendation SF Chronicle
Scott Shull’s basic blend of 11 vineyard sites includes components from locales both famous (Shea) and lesser known. The result is a perfect snapshot of classic Oregon – floral, juicy and fresh, with wild strawberry and a fennel accent. And for that price? Stunning. – the Chronicle

The 2010 Willamette is an elegant and articulate wine. Bright red candied cherry and caramel apple and even a hint of fresh white peach on the nose prepare the senses for a silky entry on the palate followed by the immediate attack of very zippy cherry fruit, mouth-drenching acidity, and hints of cassis. The wine narrows as it finishes with polished, fine-grained tannins. Though narrow, the length is prolonged by a spectrum of flavors that keep going. As it ages in the bottle, brown spice notes of cardamon and cinnamon bark may become more prominent.- the winery

Soter Vineyards Mineral Springs Pinot noir 2010Soter Vineyards
Mineral Springs Vineyard 2010

$44.95 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($49.95 retail)
#4 Recommendation SF Chronicle
Wine Advocate 93 Points
Tanzer 93 Points

Tony Soter’s Oregon effort found a great stride with the vintage and this 30-acre planting shows pristine, bright flavors from the old marine sandstone soils. Full of bayberry and a watermelon-skin grip, with celery seed and mineral accents that signal its Oregon soul. – the Chronicle

Rich red fruit on the nose preps you for one of the most lush and fresh red raspberry Oregon Pinots I’ve tasted from the stellar 2010 vintage. While the fruit is big, Tony and James did not sacrifice balance resulting in a silky finish that is quickly becoming the standard of excellence for the vintage. The 2010 Mineral Springs will excite all palates from today through 2020. – Andy

Owen Roe The Kilmore Pinot noir 2010Owen Roe The Killmore 2010
$37.76 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($41.95 retail)
The Chronicle Recommends 
David O’Reilly’s knack for crafting easy-to-please wines continues. This time the Kilmore taps two vineyards (Lenne and Merriman) aged in a mix of mostly older oak, for a lyrical, lush effort. Foresty underbrush, violets and a strong mineral component mix with dusky, heady fruit. A great example of the darker-hued flavors essential to the Oregon palette. – the Chronicle

The Kilmore has all of Owen Roe’s trademark style, balancing David’s love of full flavored ripe fruit with the restraint and berry-driven flavors of Oregon Pinot noir.

The nose is positively redolent of red raspberries, soft vanilla toast and a hint of roses. Think of fresh raspberries and blackberries picked off the vine on a hot summer day. There’s a silky smooth texture and a subtle backbone that are essential characteristics of classic Pinot noir. – Avalon

Winderlea Winderlea Vineyard 2010
$47.65 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($52.95 retail)
The Chronicle Recommends
Just released this week

This rising label taps a range of sites, but its own vineyard, on Dundee’s Jory soils, shows dense layers of flavor, thanks in part to consultant winemaker Robert Brittan (ex-Stags’ Leap Winery). A dusky oak aspect is matched by clear red fruit and dry-underbrush complexity. Muscular for Oregon, but done with great finesse. – the Chronicle

below, Winderlea Vineyards’ location in the center of Oregon’s most famous wineries

Winderlea Vineyards Map

Penner Ash Willamette Valley 2010
Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot noir 2010$38.65 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*
($42.95 retail)
The Chronicle Recommends
Lynn Penner-Ash’s appellation blend from more than a dozen vineyards is expertly stitched together in her slightly flashier style. Beyond an oak imprint, there’s warm sandalwood and fenugreek, and a cocoa tinge to subtle raspberry fruit. Seamless and classy. – the Chronicle

Plum, sweet vanilla, and black cherry flavors. The refined tannins combined with the flavors of cassis, black cherry, dark chocolate and cola leads to a finish with hints tobacco and Asian spice. – Avalon

Jean Yates

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