Focus on US Pinot Noir: Oregon & New York – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Focus on US Pinot Noir:
Oregon & New York


BEST BUYS

NEW YORK

90 | Ravines | $20

2020 Finger Lakes Cerise Red Blend (Best Buy)

Morten Hallgren blends pinot noir and blaufränkisch in this stylish red, the pinot’s bright red fruits taking on a dusty, mildly pithy savor from the blaufränkisch. It’s young, and needs time to knit. If you open it now, decant for Italian sausages. —P.J.C. (730 cases) 


88 | Hosmer | $22

2020 Cayuga Lake Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Tart and bright, this light and lively pinot has a mildly herbal edge to its cranberry and cherry-juice flavors. Chill for a plate of mortadella. —P.J.C. (400 cases) 


88 | Thirsty Owl | $22

2020 Finger Lakes Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This light, youthful pinot has a scent of wild strawberries and vine-bark, with dark red fruit that's vinous and chewy. It has the acid structure to take on a tin of Portuguese mackerel. —P.J.C. (720 cases) 

OREGON

94 | Ridgecrest | $42

2019 Ribbon Ridge Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Harry Peterson-Nedry and his daughter Wynne have been working with fruit from the southern exposures of this Ribbon Ridge property for more than 35 years. It's one of the oldest in the AVA and seems to embody the appellation in its warmth and exuberance, starting with its aromatics, all raspberry blossom and bursting cherry, set in a brambly savor. Lean and lithe, it has a streamlined elegance, with tannins that are firm but thrillingly energetic and precise, focused for a filet of arctic char. —P.J.C. (846 cases) 


94 | iOTA | $46

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Pelos Sandberg Vineyard is nearing 20 years old, a warm site east of Amity in the Eola–Amity Hills. The wine reflects that warmth but something—whether the wind-ripened fruit or the use of whole clusters—keeps it all in line. its scents of anise and smoke, violet and pine notes overlie flavors that are impressively deep and saturated. For pork loin. —P.J.C. (613 cases) 


93 | Airlie | $28

2016 Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

A Christmas-time scent lends this wine an attractive savor in notes of pine, anisette and cut tobacco. It's flavors are juicy and bright—crushed cherries and candied plum—with a whiff of caramelly oak to lend some (heft to the holiday spice. It's a steal at the price, ready for plank-roasted salmon. (460 cases) 


93 | Johan | $40

2019 Van Duzer Corridor Nils Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

In this reserve selection, Morgan Beck sets out to isolate the structural intensity of the fruit Dag Johan Sundby grows in the midst of the Van Duzer Corridor gales—how the winds impact the fruit and the fruit skin, as well as the maturity of the stems. He draws out scents of whole-cluster spice in the wine's notes of bergamot petals, tea and lavender. Following the elegant, savory scent, there's more fruit than you might expect, the flavors recalling a bowlful of mulled cherries. The texture is sleek and firm at once, reflecting the firm skin of grapes grown in the Corridor winds. —P.J.C. (714 cases) 


93 | Cristom | $40

2019 McMinnville AVA Series Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Scents of tobacco, black tea, smoke and mushroom give a dramatic savor to this AVA selection from Cristom. Drawn from Hyland and Meredith Mitchell Vineyards, this wine's flavors are sleek and curvy, the sedimentary soils of McMinnville giving plushness to the tannins, the whole-cluster spice taking on a more central savory role with air. —P.J.C. (220 cases) 


93 | Cristom | $40

2019 Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley AVA Series Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This pinot from Hirschy and Abbott Claim vineyards overdelivers in its attractive, juicy succulence. Steve Doerner's trademark use of whole clusters (43 percent) adds texture to the warm velvety cherry fruit, for a wine that's accessible, elegant and exceptionally balanced right out of the gate. —P.J.C. (215 cases) 


93 | J. Christopher | $40

This small production wine was drawn from two vineyards in the Eola Hills. It smells of purple flowers, spicy and lifted, with darker elements, anise and cocoa powder, coming forward with air. The flavors are dark and lean, a complex weave of spice and plummy fruit, with suave tannins that feel supple and taut at once. —P.J.C. (99 cases) 


93 | Furioso | $45

2019 Yamhill-Carlton Pietro Trovato Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This is just the second release from Giorgio Furioso's Yamhill-Carlton property, and it's precocious, to be sure. Named for the proprietor's uncle, it's dramatically spicy, with scents of cinnamon, cardamom, and a whiff of tobacco, this has a rush of red cherry fruit bursting through the savor, as bright as a cordial, with a cool tension between fruit and spice elements, suggesting a compelling cellar life. Give it time to unveil its secrets. —P.J.C. (1,028 cases) 


93 | St. Innocent | $48

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Willamette Valley Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Mark Vlossak draws from windswept and shallow-soiled blocks at Temperance Hill, where the plantings date to 1984. This bottling is slow to rouse, earthbound and tobacco-scented. The fruit takes on a balsamic tone after a day of air, while the turf and cherry flavors feel balanced against each other, the warmth of the vintage translating to generous fruit and ripe but firm tannins. —P.J.C. (1,021 cases) 


92 | Ruby | $29

2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This stylish pinot has a dark-cherry and red-berry scent that's slightly, pleasingly sour at the outset, but opens nicely with air. the flavors are juicy, plush and a bit forward, but tethered to firm wood spice notes. In the end the wine feels warm and generous, a value for duck. —P.J.C. (830 cases) 


92 | J. Christopher | $30

2018 Willamette Valley Basalte Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This wine leads with oak and cinnamon-stick spice, a little muddled at first, but after a few moments herbal, floral components—hibiscus and red fruits, like cranberry and pomegranate—come to the fore. The fruit deepens with air, cordoned off with the mineral grip of the tannins. Pair with something like the Bo ssam pork shoulder at Majordomo in LA. —P.J.C. (4,000 cases) 


92 | Lingua Franca | $40

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Avni Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Avni, Larry Stone's entry-level wine is hardly that; this feels highly structured, tense, sophisticated and layered. It's squared off by spicy scents of anise and plum, sassafras and rose petal, opening to an airy and lifted wine with firm acids on the finish. It's still some years from its peak. If you open now, decant. —P.J.C. (2,000 cases) 


92 | Maysara | $30

2015 McMinnville Jamsheed Montazi Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Bottle age has lent some elegance to this wine; its secondary aromatics lead with tobacco, smoke, mushroom and pine tips all mingling with suave refinement. A burst of dark red-cherry fruit pushes through the savor, the burnished tannins ready for pan-roasted trout. —P.J.C. (4,907 cases) 


92 | J. Christopher | $40

2018 Dundee Hills Volcanique Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Not a shy wine, this has a black pepper and leather scent adorning dark and concentrated cherry cola flavors. The cluster spice lends a musky savor to the tannins—a lot going on for a lean cut of steak. —P.J.C. (868 cases) 


91 | Ransom Wine | $19

2019 Willamette Valley Jigsaw Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This is an absolute steal, overdelivering in pretty aromatics of tobacco, forest floor and plum. The flavors brighten with air toward black cherry; the round tannins don't offer a lot of structure, but the wine more than makes up for that with exuberant flavors, and the stuffing for duck confit. —P.J.C. 


91 | Roserock | $35

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Domaine Drouhin Oregon's Roserock property produces wines of a soft purity, and this one fits that bill, with scents of black tea and lavender overlying a generous red-cherry and strawberry fruit profile. The texture is velvety and fine-boned, with the delicacy for a whitefish like miso-glazed cod. —P.J.C. 


91 | Carabella | $40

2019 Chehalem Mountains Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This estate bottling leans on Pommard clones for its savor and complexity. Scents of tar and tanbark frame a fine and juicy red-fruited core of flavor, with lively acids and the structure for a cider-brined pork chop. —P.J.C. (350 cases) 


90 | Winter's Hill | $25

2019 Dundee Hills Watershed Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

A well-priced estate wine, this is simple, satisfying and straightforward, with scents of juicy red cherry and crushed berry accents. It's as rich as cherry pie but with tannins that feel mineral and firm. —P.J.C. (350 cases) 


90 | Del Rio Vineyards | $32

2020 Rogue Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Bright, round and juicy, this gives off a scent of crushed berries and leaf litter with a Beaujolais-like exuberance. The flavors are slightly tense and tannic, with a firm grip for beef stew. —P.J.C. (1,280 cases) 


89 | Wine by Joe | $19

2019 Oregon Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

A delight for the price, this has a spicy scent of ripe plum and warm cinnamon, tawny and juicy at once. The flavors are simple and straightforward, but with a firm mineral grip to the tannins, suggesting it would pair well with paella. —P.J.C. 


88 | Christopher Michael | $14

2019 Oregon Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Simple and well made, this has a briary scent that frames a bright red-cherry core of fruit. It's on the lean side, with chewy, grippy tannins for duck sausage. —P.J.C. 


88 | Kings Ridge | $18

2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Dark and concentrated, there's spicy cherry fruit at the heart of this stalwart red, with a dark oak frame and a firm texture. All the flavors feel sturdy and correct, with the stuffing for lamb chops. —P.J.C. 

NEW YORK

92 | Fulkerson | $25

2019 Seneca Lake Pinot Noir

Light and brambly, with scents of horehound and sassafras bark, this wine's spicy contours provide a pleasing complexity and layering, through tart, brilliantly red cherry fruit. Juicy and succulent, for a fatty fish, like halibut. —P.J.C. (167 cases) 


90 | Ravines | $20

2020 Finger Lakes Cerise Red Blend (Best Buy)

Morten Hallgren blends pinot noir and blaufränkisch in this stylish red, the pinot’s bright red fruits taking on a dusty, mildly pithy savor from the blaufränkisch. It’s young, and needs time to knit. If you open it now, decant for Italian sausages. —P.J.C. (730 cases) 


88 | Hosmer | $22

2020 Cayuga Lake Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Tart and bright, this light and lively pinot has a mildly herbal edge to its cranberry and cherry juice-flavors. Chill for a plate of mortadella. —P.J.C. (400 cases) 


88 | Thirsty Owl | $22

2020 Finger Lakes Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This light, youthful pinot has a scent of wild strawberries and vine-bark, with dark red fruit that's vinous and chewy. It has the acid structure to take on a tin of Portuguese mackerel. —P.J.C. (720 cases) 

OREGON

95 | Lingua Franca | $60

2019 Eola–Amity Hills The Plow Pinot Noir

Lingua Franca's The Plow is taken from blocks 1 and 2 at the top of Larry Stone's estate vineyard, set on relatively shallow Gelderman and not so shallow Jory soils. Those volcanics yield a wine of pure velvet, firmly planted but silky and sensuous in the mouth. This leads with scents of horehound, sassafras, red and black cherry, a hint of plum and tobacco, all of it firmly expressed, growing more layered and complex over the course of several days. Give it time in the cellar to develop before serving with something substantial, like roast beef. —P.J.C. (880 cases) 


95 | The Eyrie | $75

2018 Dundee Hills Roland Green Pinot Noir

Roland Green includes an older plot of own-rooted vines adjacent a young block on heat-tolerant rootstocks. It yielded a wine of admirable tension and breadth in 2018. You can taste the stalwart old-vine poise in the wine today, turned soil and tanbark, blood and cherries, along with youthful savory notes of violets, rose petals, bramble and star anise. It is, in a word, complex. The flavors are luxurious, the savor tugging at the fruit with a gentle insistence, with a cherry-skin concentration to the texture that's wildly appealing. Cellar to watch it evolve. —P.J.C. 


94 | Cristom | $75

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir

Jessie is a steep, densely-planted vineyard established in 1994. The maturity and the density of the vines yielded a 2019 with assertive fruit character and the textures, and layers, to support it all. It leads with fruit, a compelling combination of plum and dark berry, with clove and cinnamon accents that recede with air. The flavors feel generous but not pushy, the wine's lush intensity held in check by a fine mesh of tannin and acid. An impressive performance, for cassoulet. —P.J.C. (769 cases) 


94 | Cristom | $75

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Marjorie Vineyard Pinot Noir

From one of the oldest parcels on the property, this edition of Marjorie is wildly savory, leading with olive and smoke, tomato leaf and humus. It's dramatic at first, then suddenly inhabited by joyous, darkly vibrant fruit. The savor is persistent, with a thrilling integration that suggests a long cellar life. —P.J.C. (519 cases) 


94 | Cristom | $75

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Eileen Vineyard Pinot Noir

Haunting scents of pine and olive leaf—Oregon's version of garrigue—lend complexity to a dark and sumptuous plumminess in this showstopper from Eileen, Cristom's highest elevation block—the place where Van Duzer winds first hit the property. You can feel the structure produced by those winds, in the sanguine depth of flavor from the thick skins of the grapes, but the lasting impression is one of grace and poise, the tannins demonstrating a willow-like give. —P.J.C. (749 cases) 


94 | iOTA | $46

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Pelos Sandberg Vineyard is nearing 20 years old, a warm site east of Amity in the Eola–Amity Hills. The wine reflects that warmth but something—whether the wind-ripened fruit or the use of whole clusters—keeps it all in line. Its scents of anise and smoke, violet and pine notes overlay flavors that are impressively deep and saturated. For pork loin. —P.J.C. (613 cases) 


94 | J. Christopher | $75

2018 Chehalem Mountains Single Barrel Selection Block 5 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

J. Christopher produced one barrel in 2018 from Block 5, a parcel of well-drained alluvial sediments jutting out from the main property. This wine feels closed off in its first moments, only to wake with a pleasing savor. Scents of conifer forest and wild mushrooms lead, giving way to an Old World, Italianate structure with firm and gripping acidity. It has a wildness that suggests game as a good pairing, like squab. —P.J.C. (24 cases) 


94 | J.C. Somers | $55

2019 Dundee Hills Bella Vida Vineyard Pinot Noir

This 36-acre vineyard set between Knudsen and Maresh vineyards was planted in the late nineties. This edition of Bella Vida expresses energy and movement from its first pour—light, straight-lined, bright and lifted. Red-lfruited, its raspberry and pomegranate scents have a mushroomy savor, with flavors to match that feel lean and succinctly expressed. —P.J.C. (100 cases) 


94 | Lingua Franca | $50

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Lingua Franca Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This is a blend from multiple parcels at Larry Stone's estate vineyard. Like Lingua Franca's other 2019s, it took its time evolving, this one showing earth, oak and turned soil when first poured, revealing many nuances over five days tasted, its earthy black cherry flavors set in a stalwart tannic structure that opened in subtle increments each day. Built to cellar. —P.J.C. (530 cases) 


94 | Lingua Franca | $95

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Mimi's Mind Pinot Noir

For a wine that's exceedingly well structured, this has more than its share of sensuality. It's hard to know what to focus on first: the wine's aromas are teeming with complexity—herbs, chaparral, pine tips, underbrush—but the fruit within feels at once light (in tone) and concentrated, with an acid structure and mineral firmness to the texture that hints at a long life. —P.J.C. (500 cases) 


94 | Lumos | $55

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Swan Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

Dai Crisp draws this pinot noir from multiple blocks at Temperance Hill, where he finds that fruit from the Swan clone lends itself to whole-cluster fermentation. So, he destems none of it and the wine responds with dramatic aromatics, of tea and florals, plum skin and juicy plum flesh, with a fine tang of wood smoke in the background. Its flavors are focused and lean, the fruit linear and elegant, a raspberry tang that's mouthwatering and fine. Showing great energy and tension now, it has an acid structure to sustain it over the course of a long life. —P.J.C. (48 cases) 


94 | Lumos | $55

2019 Eola–Amity Hills North Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

North is one of Temperance Hill's high-elevation parcels, an exposed site rising to 850 feet, yielding a wine of exceptional tension and firm structure. It starts off opaque, with dusty scents of strawberry leather and tobacco leaf. After a day, the flavors become sleek and elegant; there's surprising concentration to the plum and strawberry fruit, with an herbal savor and earthy plum-skin tannins. It's got the stuff to cellar. —P.J.C. (73 cases) 


94 | Matzinger Davies | $50

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Mastering the middle register, this elegant pinot seems to walk the line between warm fruit flavors and a lean, olive-like savor. Its warmth registers in the aromas of horehound and a bowl of fresh cherries in the sun. Its tangy undertone of red berry flavor deepens, becoming elegant with air, with a luxurious texture that one taster described as "soft in all the right places." It feels effortless. —P.J.C. (280 cases) 


94 | Nicolas-Jay | $75

2018 Willamette Valley L'Ensemble Pinot Noir

Bringing together lots from five appellations, Jean-Nicolas Méo has crafted a gorgeous assemblage here, elegant and yet packed with flavor. It smells like a handful of ripe berries, the dark fruit elements framed by foresty scents. The wine's texture is concentrated, focused and pure; its reined in richness and succulence finish with remarkable poise. Impressive on its own, it would pair beautifully with game, like quail or Cornish hen roasted with fresh thyme. (1,145 cases) 


94 | Ridgecrest | $42

2019 Ribbon Ridge Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Harry Peterson-Nedry and his daughter Wynne have been working with fruit from the southern exposures of this Ribbon Ridge property for more than 35 years. It's one of the oldest in the AVA and seems to embody the appellation in its warmth and exuberance, starting with its aromatics, all raspberry blossom and bursting cherry, set in a brambly savor. Lean and lithe, it has a streamlined elegance, with tannins that are firm but thrillingly energetic and precise, focused for a filet of arctic char. —P.J.C. (846 cases) 


94 | Ruby | $55

2018 Chehalem Mountains Old Vine Estate Pinot Noir

This is from an own-rooted parcel of vines planted on Laurelwood soils in 1979, in what is now the Laurelwood AVA. It smells of tanbark and forest floor, with a cherry blossom top note that gives the aroma a beguiling lift. The flavors are forward but balanced, the tobacco-laced cherry flavors have a pale, gentle bite of tannin that will make you hungry. For duck. —P.J.C. (540 cases) 


94 | The Eyrie | $250

2016 Dundee Hills South Block Pinot Noir

Working with fruit from the South Block of The Eyrie's original vineyard, with plantings going back to the late sixties, Jason Lett created a wine that's full of flavor. The savory elements of tobacco and forest floor somehow propel and contribute to its succulence. It's smoky when first poured, with a scent of woozy plum and bramble, only to shore up into a lean-lined, focused, red-fruited gem, the dusty tannins lending heft and succulence to the fruit. —P.J.C. 


93 | Airlie | $28

2016 Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

A Christmastime scent lends this wine an attractive savor in notes of pine, anisette and cut tobacco. Its flavors are juicy and bright—crushed cherries and candied plum—with a whiff of caramelly oak to lend some (heft to the holiday spice. It's a steal at the price, ready for plank-roasted salmon. (460 cases) 


93 | Cristom | $40

2019 McMinnville AVA Series Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Scents of tobacco, black tea, smoke and mushroom give a dramatic savor to this AVA selection from Cristom. Drawn from Hyland and Meredith Mitchell Vineyards, this wine's flavors are sleek and curvy, the sedimentary soils of McMinnville giving plushness to the tannins, the whole-cluster spice taking on a more central savory role with air. —P.J.C. (220 cases) 


93 | Cristom | $40

2019 Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley AVA Series Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This pinot from Hirschy and Abbott Claim vineyards overdelivers in its attractive, juicy succulence. Steve Doerner's trademark use of whole clusters (43 percent) adds texture to the warm velvety cherry fruit, for a wine that's accessible, elegant and exceptionally balanced right out of the gate. —P.J.C. (215 cases) 


93 | David Paige | $39

2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Dave Paige blends this wine from three sources—his estate vineyard in the Eola Hills, along with fruit from the Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge. The latter two provide the depth in the wine, as is the warm vintage with scents of warm blackberries and unsweetened cocoa. It's richer than the pinot noirs Paige made at Adelsheim, with plenty of body and vibrancy, all driven by pulsing acidity that keeps the wine upright and lively. —P.J.C. (470 cases) 


93 | David Paige | $39

2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

During David Paige's tenure as winemaker at Adelsheim, the winery started to pick earlier and at lower Brix levels, resulting in wines of exceptional delicacy and longevity. His own wines are slightly more saturated. This pinot noir offers sour -plum and red-cherry flavors that feel concentrated and dense, but the sapid mix of fine tannin and lively acidity gives this wine its taut energy. —P.J.C. (700 cases) 


93 | Domaine Drouhin | $85

2019 Dundee Hills Édition Limitée Pinot Noir

Sumptuous and a bit oak-heavy when first poured, this wine, tasted over several days, grows into that oak frame with an effortless aplomb. As the cinnamon and caramel notes and the cherry pie flavors develop, they take on a vinous savor, with tobacco notes in the background. It’s satisfying and complete, and clearly built to age. —P.J.C. (231 cases) 


93 | Élevée | $52

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Björnson Vineyard Pinot Noir

Dark and smoky, this wine’s aromas seem to be an analogue of the wind, transforming the thick skins of the grapes into a firm textural weave. After a day, the wine takes off like a rocket, trailing a core of cherry fruit within the smoke. The texture turns generous, the flavors warm and vibrant, limned with a leafy, turfy savor. —P.J.C. (300 cases) 


93 | Erath | $60

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Willakia Pinot Noir

From Erath’s 120-acre estate east of Amity, this wine reflects the vintage’s balanced flavors, the aromas between plum and red cherry, with a savory accent of dark wood. There’s plenty of oak on offer, (it was aged in barrels, 40 percent new), but that oak recedes with air, providing a supple elegance to the burnished fruit. This should reward cellar time. —P.J.C. (188 cases) 


93 | Fullerton | $70

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Björnson Vineyard Pinot Noir

This is a firm, elegant pinot from the shallow soils at Björnson. The aromas are brushy and savory, their hints of red cherry giving way to a mildly juicy, gracefully composed wine, a thinly drawn line of red fruits, with the energy and lift for sturgeon. —P.J.C. (220 cases) 


93 | Furioso | $45

2019 Yamhill-Carlton Pietro Trovato Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This is just the second release from Giorgio Furioso's Yamhill-Carlton property, and it's precocious, to be sure. Named for the proprietor's uncle, it's dramatically spicy, with scents of cinnamon, cardamom, and a whiff of tobacco, this has a rush of red cherry fruit bursting through the savor, as bright as a cordial, with a cool tension between fruit and spice elements, suggesting a compelling cellar life. Give it time to unveil its secrets. —P.J.C. (1,028 cases) 


93 | J. Christopher | $40

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Lumière Pinot Noir

This small-production wine was drawn from two vineyards in the Eola Hills. It smells of purple flowers, spicy and lifted, with darker elements, anise and cocoa powder, coming forward with air. The flavors are dark and lean, a complex weave of spice and plummy fruit, with suave tannins that feel supple and taut at once. —P.J.C. (99 cases) 


93 | J. Christopher | $60

2018 Chehalem Mountains Rocks Blocks Selection Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

A barrel selection from the shallow soils of J. Christopher’s Appassionata Vineyard, this wine starts out smoky, spicy and warmed by oak. With air the oak structure reveals layers of root, earth and dark spice, with a compact elegance that frames a dark raspberry richness. It’s a lot of wine with the stuff to cellar. —P.J.C. (117 cases) 


93 | J.C. Somers | $65

2019 Dundee Hills Abbey Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

Jay Somers is one of three producers making wine from this revered Dundee Hills site, planted in the late seventies to heritage clones, including Pommard and Coury. His 2019 is warm and generous, with an enveloping red cherry scent, a hint of earthy humus in the background. It’s layered and very well-structured, the texture round then firmly drawn up with sumptuous oak. A grand wine for duck. —P.J.C. (100 cases) 


93 | Johan | $40

2019 Van Duzer Corridor Nils Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

In this reserve selection, Morgan Beck sets out to isolate the structural intensity of the fruit Dag Johan Sundby grows in the midst of the Van Duzer Corridor gales—how the winds impact the fruit and the fruit skin, as well as the maturity of the stems. He draws out scents of whole-cluster spice in the wine's notes of bergamot petals, tea and lavender. Following the elegant, savory scent, there's more fruit than you might expect, the flavors recalling a bowlful of mulled cherries. The texture is sleek and firm at once, reflecting the firm skin of grapes grown in the Corridor winds. —P.J.C. (714 cases) 


93 | Knudsen | $55

2018 Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Foresty and bright, this wine feels plump with its scents of dark cherry and lush, juicy red plum. With air a firm minerality steps into frame the fruit, lending contour and dusty grip. —P.J.C. (400 cases) 


93 | Lingua Franca | $60

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Tongue ’n Cheek Pinot Noir

This wine felt quiet when first poured, and needed three days to find its voice. Initially reduced, its flavors are wildly concentrated, turning elegant with air, with a woodsy spice that emerges and suggests a lean steak for a pairing, like tenderloin. —P.J.C. (200 cases) 


93 | Lumos | $55

2019 Eola-Amity Hills Pumphouse Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

Dai Crisp and winemaker Julia Cattrall produce elegant wines in a reductive style: Like many of their Temperance Hill bottlings, this one reflects a structural grandeur well before the wine’s elements are fully unfurled. It takes a day for the fruit to peek through in cherry-cranberry brightness, juicy and crisp, in the end, reserved. For the cellar. —P.J.C. (73 cases) 


93 | Ruby | $68

2018 Chehalem Mountains Steve’s Reserve Pinot Noir

Steve’s Reserve reflects a barrel selection that winemaker Andrew Kirkland blends to the preferences of Ruby’s owner, Steve Hendricks. Says Kirkland, that almost always involves Pommard clone selections, and this one reflects that structure and vinosity that Pommard often delivers in a blend, with a mild spice, an ephemeral texture, translucent red cherry flavors and vibrancy. A beauty. —P.J.C. (200 cases) 


93 | Sokol Blosser | $70

2018 Dundee Hills Big Tree Block Estate Pinot Noir

Named for an old maple that once graced this parcel’s volcanic Jory loams, Big Tree Block starts off distant and wooly, more intriguing than expressive. By day two, however, the wine starts to unfurl, the reductive savor gives way to sleek spiced-cherry flavors, demonstrably red fruited and buoyed by fresh acidity. —P.J.C. (582 cases) 


93 | St. Innocent | $48

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Willamette Valley Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Mark Vlossak draws from windswept and shallow-soiled blocks at Temperance Hill, where the plantings date to 1984. This bottling is slow to rouse, earthbound and tobacco-scented. The fruit takes on a balsamic tone after a day of air, while the turf and cherry flavors feel balanced against each other, the warmth of the vintage translating to generous fruit and ripe but firm tannins. —P.J.C. (1,021 cases) 


93 | St. Innocent Winery | $48

2018 McMinnville Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir

This feels loose and light in its scent, with a burst of wild strawberry lined with a dusty, wind-blown Van Duzer accent. The flavors go deeper, toward dark cherry and a hint of cinnamon, with a cherry-skin grip. For plank-roasted salmon. —P.J.C. (1,045 cases) 


93 | The Eyrie | $90

2018 Dundee Hills The Eyrie Pinot Noir

Suave but closed off, this wine has a polished surface that seems to reflect a tobacco, leafy savor. Poured two days later, spices fill the glass—horehound, sassafras, mace and pine. The fruit reflects the red-berry lift of the best Dundee Hills sites, fleshy then lined with velvety tannins, with a warmth for mushroom and thyme risotto. —P.J.C. 


92 | Airlie | $45

2016 Willamette Valley Dunn Forest Pinot Noir

A barrel selection from this estate vineyard featuring the Pommard clone lots, this wine is wearing its bottle age beautifully: mildly earthy and vinous scents overlying a perfumed, high-toned cherry. The flavors are dark, polished and velvety, buttressed by suave tannins, (74 cases) 


92 | Chehalem | $50

2019 Willamette Valley Stoller Vineyard Pinot Noir

Bill Stoller’s home vineyard on a majestic Dundee Hills slope often yields a rich expression of pinot, but winemaker Katie Santora has built in some tobacco and brambly savor here, framing the plush dark cherry flavors, finishing tart and lean. For duck. —P.J.C. (350 cases) 


92 | Erath | $60

2018 Yamhill-Carlton Fairsing Pinot Noir

This starts out rich and lavish, its black cherry flavors dominated by oak-driven baking spices and scents of nutmeg in the tannins. The wine finds its balance with a day of air, deep in plum flavors but lifted by acidity. “It really does ring all the bells,” said one taster. Singing, for steak. —P.J.C. (154 cases) 


92 | iOTA | $50

2017 Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

Lavishly spicy, with whole-cluster scents of beetroot and bergamot, this wine’s anise and ink notes overlay a dark plummy core of fruit. Through all that darkness and rootiness there’s a freshness that lifts the wine, finishing with a burnished depth. —P.J.C. (97 cases) 


92 | J. Christopher | $30

2018 Willamette Valley Basalte Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This wine leads with oak and cinnamon-stick spice, a little muddled at first, but after a few moments herbal, floral components—hibiscus and red fruits, like cranberry and pomegranate—come to the fore. The fruit deepens with air, cordoned off with the mineral grip of the tannins. Pair with something like the Bo Ssam pork shoulder at Majordomo in LA. —P.J.C. (4,000 cases) 


92 | J. Christopher | $40

2018 Dundee Hills Volcanique Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Not a shy wine, this has a black pepper and leather scent adorning dark and concentrated cherry cola flavors. The cluster spice lends a musky savor to the tannins—a lot going on for a lean cut of steak. —P.J.C. (868 cases) 


92 | King Estate | $68

2018 Willamette Valley Domaine Pinot Noir

A selection from King’s estate vineyards, this opens into cola and black cherry scents with air. The structure is angled and firm, with suave tannins and a rippling, middleweight energy. It captures the vintage’s exuberance even as it’s built to age. —P.J.C. (100 cases) 


92 | Lemelson | $56

2018 Yamhill-Carlton Stermer Vineyard Pinot Noir

Scents of licorice, anise and suede offset an initially woozy scent, the fruit showing a plush depth. With air, however, the wine brightens, becoming assertive in its red cherry flavors, lasting on remarkably persistent, mouthwatering acidity. —P.J.C. (370 cases) 


92 | Lingua Franca | $40

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Avni Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Avni, Larry Stone's entry-level wine is hardly that; this feels highly structured, tense, sophisticated and layered. It's squared off by spicy scents of anise and plum, sassafras and rose petal, opening to an airy and lifted wine with firm acids on the finish. It's still some years from its peak. If you open now, decant. —P.J.C. (2,000 cases) 


92 | Lumos | $75

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Double Barrel Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

This wine is pleasingly savory and coniferous, an evocation of the Pacific Northwest and the Van Duzer winds. The fir, pine and cedar notes prop up delicate red-berry fruit and, for the moment, this wine is about tension and energy. Its lively, mouth-filling acidity seems to ensure a long life. —P.J.C. (49 cases) 


92 | Maysara | $30

2015 McMinnville Jamsheed Montazi Vineyard Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Bottle age has lent some elegance to this wine; its secondary aromatics lead with tobacco, smoke, mushroom and pine tips all mingling with suave refinement. A burst of dark red-cherry fruit pushes through the savor, the burnished tannins ready for pan-roasted trout. —P.J.C. (4,907 cases) 


92 | Nicolas-Jay | $70

2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Sleek and pure, this appellation wine has a scent of crushed plums and warm berries; a hint of tar and five-spice round it out. The flavors are focused and persistent, with a juicy midpalate and a pleasing, suede-like grip of tannins. —P.J.C. (495 cases) 


92 | Nicolas-Jay | $90

2019 Willamette Valley Own-Rooted Pinot Noir

This blend showcases a number of older Willamette Valley sites that are planted, you guessed it, on their own roots, including Nysa and Bishop Creek, an estate vineyard. In the case of this 2019, the predominance of the Pommard clone contributes mightily to the feel of the wine, quiet and distant, savory in its scents of cedar and rose petal. The flavors follow suit, with a firm texture that’s yields a fleshy give. It should age nicely. —P.J.C. (342 cases) 


92 | Raptor Ridge | $50

2018 Eola–Amity Hills Crawford Beck Vineyard Pinot Noir

From mature plantings going back to 1998, this is a hefty wine, its dark plum fruit anchored by a balsamic savor. The flavors are dark, the texture velvety, with refined acids that frame all that fruit. —P.J.C. (103 cases) 


92 | Ruby | $29

2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This stylish pinot has a dark-cherry and red-berry scent that's slightly, pleasingly sour at the outset, but opens nicely with air. the flavors are juicy, plush and a bit forward, but tethered to firm wood spice notes. In the end the wine feels warm and generous, a value for duck. —P.J.C. (830 cases) 


91 | Carabella | $40

2019 Chehalem Mountains Estate Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This estate bottling leans on Pommard clones for its savor and complexity. Scents of tar and tanbark frame a fine and juicy red-fruited core of flavor, with lively acids and the structure for a cider-brined pork chop. —P.J.C. (350 cases) 


91 | Ransom Wine | $19

2019 Willamette Valley Jigsaw Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

This is an absolute steal, overdelivering in pretty aromatics of tobacco, forest floor and plum. The flavors brighten with air toward black cherry; the round tannins don't offer a lot of structure, but the wine more than makes up for that with exuberant flavors, and the stuffing for duck confit. —P.J.C. 


91 | Roserock | $35

2019 Eola–Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Domaine Drouhin Oregon's Roserock property produces wines of a soft purity, and this one fits that bill, with scents of black tea and lavender overlying a generous red-cherry and strawberry fruit profile. The texture is velvety and fine-boned, with the delicacy for a whitefish like miso-glazed cod. —P.J.C. 


90 | Winter's Hill | $25

2019 Dundee Hills Watershed Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

A well-priced estate wine, this is simple, satisfying and straightforward, with scents of juicy red cherry and crushed berry accents. It's as rich as cherry pie but with tannins that feel mineral and firm. —P.J.C. (350 cases) 


88 | Kings Ridge | $18

2019 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Best Buy)

Dark and concentrated, there's spicy cherry fruit at the heart of this stalwart red, with a dark oak frame and a firm texture. All the flavors feel sturdy and correct, with the stuffing for lamb chops. —P.J.C. 



These tasting notes have been published as part of our Regional Tasting Report on US Pinot Noir.

This is a W&S web exclusive. Get access to all of our feature stories by signing up today.