Best Oregon Pinot?

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Bill Sweeney
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Best Oregon Pinot?

#1 Post by Bill Sweeney » October 28th, 2018, 4:53 am

There are probably more $100+ Pinots in Oregon than in California. So who makes the best pinots in Oregon? Is the quality sufficient to justify the price?
Last edited by Bill Sweeney on October 28th, 2018, 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot

#2 Post by Jeff Rosenberg » October 28th, 2018, 5:14 am

There is no need to spend $100+ for good Oregon Pinot Noir. We visited the Willamette Valley this summer and discovered plenty of well made Pinot priced significantly less than $100. I suggest trying wines produced by Marcus Goodfellow, Patricia Green Cellars and Walter Scott. Walter Scott also makes fantastic Chardonnay. I’m sure others will chimes in on this subject.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot

#3 Post by Mattstolz » October 28th, 2018, 5:27 am

Jeff Rosenberg wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 5:14 am
There is no need to spend $100+ for good Oregon Pinot Noir. We visited the Willamette Valley this summer and discovered plenty of well made Pinot priced significantly less than $100. I suggest trying wines produced by Marcus Goodfellow, Patricia Green Cellars and Walter Scott. Walter Scott also makes fantastic Chardonnay. I’m sure others will chimes in on this subject.
I agree with all of this. Patricia Green is my single most opened producer and always good. Walter Scott makes stunning wines as well. neither have the astronomical price tag you can see in Oregon.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot

#4 Post by Bill Sweeney » October 28th, 2018, 6:10 am

I wasn’t interested in good affordable Pinot, of which there are certainly many in Oregon. I was specifically interested in the very high end. How good are they? Who makes the best? Is the high price justified by what’s in the bottle?

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot

#5 Post by Kirk.Grant » October 28th, 2018, 6:53 am

Bill Sweeney wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 6:10 am
I wasn’t interested in good affordable Pinot, of which there are certainly many in Oregon. I was specifically interested in the very high end. How good are they? Who makes the best? Is the high price justified by what’s in the bottle?
"The best" is going to come down to preference. Some might think Domaine Serene's wines are "the best" but I'd never go near them. Antica Terra is another "hot" producer that folks clamor to get but I've never liked. Both make wines well over $100...and in my mind are not worth the money. However, if you go to Eyrie Vineyards they sell some older bottles for over $100 that I think are well worth the money...but my S.O. would disagree. So back to your question, which seems to be looking for a fact but is mostly asking for opinion. Top end Oregon Pinot Noir is worth it...but in my mind most of them are around $60+ dollars. I THINK that Patricia Green's Etzel Block is one of the BEST wines made in Oregon (for my palate). I think John Thomas' Dundee Hills is another and that's about $70. I would take any bottle, any vintage of either of these wines over the $100+ luxury cuvees that a lot of the modern producers offer...and that's the best I think I could answer this. There are other producers, as others have stated...and they're all special. I think I'm echoing what Jeff was saying...you don't have to spend $100 for "the best" in Oregon.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#6 Post by Jason T » October 28th, 2018, 7:42 am

Well said Kirk. Agree that what we are discussing here is opinion rather than fact.

I can vouch for the Eyrie with age. Had an ‘85 back in May that was simply haunting. Worth the ~$300? For me it was much more worth it’s tariff than the top end Domaine Serenes and Antica Terras.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#7 Post by Thomas Keim » October 28th, 2018, 7:47 am

I'm a long time Oregon advocate, but don't count out California for top end Pinot Noir. As everyone else is saying, it really depends on the style of Pinot Noir you like. If you like the jammy, decadent style, go to California. You want something a little more refined, and a little less alcoholic, go with Oregon.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot

#8 Post by Rick Allen » October 28th, 2018, 12:12 pm

Bill Sweeney wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 6:10 am
I wasn’t interested in good affordable Pinot, of which there are certainly many in Oregon. I was specifically interested in the very high end. How good are they? Who makes the best? Is the high price justified by what’s in the bottle?
Sounds like you're a baller. Perhaps you should just go buy some Domaine Serene wines and everyone will be really impressed about how much you spend for wine, and I'm sure the Evenstadt will appreciate the help in financing their helicopter pad.

Unfortunately, it won't mean that you're getting the best wine. While there is a general correlation between price and quality, in Oregon, it tends to fall apart once you get north of $60. A good part of this is a recognition that a good share of the higher-end wine made in Oregon is sold here as well. Oregon has a limited number of people that are willing to spend $100 for a bottle of wine relative to the amount of superb wine produced. This is good news for wine buyers (although ballers might not think so). As far as names are concerned, Cameron, Goodfellow, Walter Scott, Patty Green, and a number of others top out around $70-90. Eyrie can get really expensive ($300+) if you buy some of their older wines, but I think their current production tops out at $90. I you really want a treat, track down a bottle of 1999 Cameron Screaming Ego (probably $250+ if you can find it). It would seem appropriate.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#9 Post by Joseph MR » October 28th, 2018, 12:33 pm

Maybe you would like White Rose?
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#10 Post by Alan Gottlieb » October 28th, 2018, 1:20 pm

Shout out for Kelley Fox wines. Only have had a few but so far fantastic

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#11 Post by MitchTallan » October 28th, 2018, 2:21 pm

I refuse to participate in this thread.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#12 Post by Gordon Fitz » October 28th, 2018, 3:18 pm

Back a decade ago, I thought DS’s wines were well worth their price when selling in th $60-$75 range. Today not so much.

I love Brickhouse wines, both white and reds. The Evelyn, which is my favorite, sells in the $70 range minus discounts.

With time, I still think Beau Frers is worth their price tags, both the BF Vineyard and upper Terrace.

Thomas is always a sure bet. Tony Soter makes lovely wines and I really enjoy his Brut Rose.

Caution! None of these wines, IMO, are same vintage pop and pour wines. They all need cellar time, which some wine buyers refuse to give. The many posters on CT deeply into infantcide do not favor these wines.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#13 Post by AlexS » October 28th, 2018, 3:32 pm

Eyrie South Block Reserve

From there, plenty of outstanding runner-ups. I do very much agree that discussing the best "high end" seems silly and antithetical to OR wine.
Last edited by AlexS on October 28th, 2018, 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot

#14 Post by Mark Y » October 28th, 2018, 3:36 pm

Bill Sweeney wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 6:10 am
I wasn’t interested in good affordable Pinot, of which there are certainly many in Oregon. I was specifically interested in the very high end. How good are they? Who makes the best? Is the high price justified by what’s in the bottle?
There are "the most expensive" and there are "the best". In many places they align (i.e. DRC/Rousseau/Coche in burg, 1st growths in LB/RB bdx), but in Oregon that's not necessarily the case.
I'm not an expert by any means, but i've found my favorites are in the $50-75 range. As someone already mentioned, Oregon really isn't great for 'name recognition/show off btls', say if you needed a flashy gift.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#15 Post by Jim Stewart » October 28th, 2018, 4:07 pm

I thought that Kirk’s post was pretty much ‘nuf said . . . but here is another way to look at it (and maybe we end up at the same place Kirk is).
Let’s go quantitative! Wine Spectator’s March 2018 Oregon report has the price and “rating” for several hundred recent Oregon Pinot Noir releases. https://www.winespectator.com/magazine/show/id/56007.
I made a spreadsheet of the Pinot Noir wines that had a WS score of at least 88 and tried to take a look at the relationship between price and the estimated “quality” as reflected by the WS score. Here is a graph of Price range of the individual wines within a WS score category.
oregon pinot noir.png

Within each WS score category there is a pretty wide range in prices that you can pay. For example you could spend less than $40 for a 92 point Oregon Pinot Noir or over $100 if that is your preference. Another apparent conclusion is that paying over $100 does not guarantee that the wine is “best” in terms of score - there are $100 wines at each score category. Of course your own assessment of quality might differ from Wine Spectator. I myself would question the need to go over $100 in search of extra quality.
FWIW, YMMV , caveat emptor, etc. . .
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#16 Post by Gordon Fitz » October 28th, 2018, 4:20 pm

As with most all the regions, winemaker changes can have a huge impact. At DS, for example, I personally don’t believe that Eric Kramer made the same quality wines as Tony Rynder. At Eyrie, I personally like the son just fine, but I don’t believe he makes as good of wines as his dad . Patricia Green is unfortunately no longer with us likewise. It will be interesting seeing what happens there and at Beaux F, as the changes occur with the Etzel’s Departure.

What I might be willing to pay for a wine before can definitely change when the winemaker changes.

An additional $100 wine that I have always found “ worth” it is the DDO Louisa! Always a spectacular wine. One, that again needs cellar time.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#17 Post by jgreco » October 28th, 2018, 5:13 pm

Oregon Pinot has so many good options at the high end. There are now dozens of producers now that are making top quality Pinot that deserve a place in your cellar.

Many of these are around $100, but a few are a real steal:

Antica Terra
Beaux Freres
Bergstrom
Domaine Serene
Eisele Vineyards
Evesham Wood (the best price at this quality quality level that you will find in American Pinot)
Lingua Franca
Walter Scott
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#18 Post by Thomas Keim » October 28th, 2018, 5:40 pm

MitchTallan wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 2:21 pm
I refuse to participate in this thread.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#19 Post by Jim Anderson » October 28th, 2018, 6:33 pm

I have long thoughts on this topic. Let’s see if I can keep it to a dull roar.

First, I’m betting there are more CA Pinots at over $100. That’s neither here nor there and I don’t care at all. Just saying.

I have bought a decent amount of Burgundy in my life. Certainly over the past 20+ years I have invested a decent amount of money there. I’ve seen, as you all have, wines go from, let’s say, $70 to $100 to $150 to lord knows what. Thousands in some instances. If you’re buying Burgundy and you want good producers, top sites and vintages...the starting point is around $100. I certainly know there are fine wines from Burgundy under $100. I am not trying to debate the fine points of pricing across a region with multiple 1000s of producers. I think if we are being honest about what we are discussing I am far from exaggerating. And, if you want to dabble in the top stuff, what? $250+ up to the sky is the limit pricing? It is what it is. Burgundy produces only so much and that used to go to a certain section(s) of the world but now? Goes all over with demand from places that were unimaginable even 15 years ago. Good for the domaines.

As a producer and member of the Oregon wine community I have seen the quality of Oregon Pinot increase significantly and it is now a broader and deeper pool than ever before. Are there top producers, top sites and regions that define and dominate the upper echelon of the wines? Of course. No different than any where else, really.

Oregon, in my biased mind, is the predominant force in the world in extremely high quality Pinots that feel, smell, taste, act and deliver like folks familiar with wines from the Motherland would expect and appreciate at prices that are more than fair. Does that disallow for wines at $100+ that are exceptional to be worth buying? Again, this is going to depend on what you think about spending $100+ on wine. Napa Cab routinely gets it. So, are the two dozen (guessing) Oregon Pinots at that price worth it?

This is my perspective and of course it is wildy biased especially since we make 2 of those rare bottlings. Yes. Emphatically. I know what we are producing with our 2 plus-$100 Pinots. I am hopeful and assuming that the other producers that are over that magic dollar mark are likewise creating wines of pedigree, place and of exceptional quality and age worthiness. I have tasted the most expensive wines of Burgundy and several of the top tier wines from Oregon. At the most magical levels are we there yet? No. However, generally speaking, hundreds of dollars per bottle separate the wines. If you simply look at the plethora of $100-$200 Burgundies and the relatively few that exist in Oregon I think you would find wines that easily fit into the price slots in which they are being listed at.

But maybe you don’t want to spend that money on Oregon Pinot for any variety of reasons. Maybe you would spend $300 on Burgundy but not over $50 on Oregon. That’s okay. I get it. I also know that we are earning it here. There are 2nd generation winemakers, winemakers with 25+ years on the job in the state, 30-50 year old vines, better everything across the board that makes vineyards and wineries more capable, etc.

If you are happy and more than satisfied buying our $42 Estate Vineyard Old Vine Pinot Noir (for instance) as opposed to our $100 Mysterious Vineyard or $150 Freedom Hill Vineyard Perspicacious Cuvée I get it but I will still tell you I think those wines are worth what we charge. Whether you agree is entirely up to you but that is no different than anywhere that the best wines from the best grapes are produced.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Always has been.
Last edited by Jim Anderson on October 28th, 2018, 9:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#20 Post by Gray G » October 28th, 2018, 6:53 pm

my favorite has been Drouhin Louise
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#21 Post by Bill Sweeney » October 29th, 2018, 5:05 am

Thanks Jim, interesting post as always. I love Oregon wines, but have little experience with the top end ones. Certainly in the context of what a good burg costs the top prices are not crazy.

The premier grape in California, at least as far as the market is concerned, is Cabernet, as the top prices for a Napa cab show. The premier grape in Oregon is clearly Pinot. From that perspective Oregon producers have been much more conservative in pricing then their Napa cousins.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#22 Post by Gray G » October 29th, 2018, 5:32 am

funny thing is some California wineries are now adding Oregon Pinot to their portfolio whether via grape purchases, winery purchases, label purchases etc....
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#23 Post by Richard T r i m p i » October 29th, 2018, 6:03 am

As a lay consumer, my perspective is that fine wine prices are driven by a strange and difficult-to-predict correlation between marketing, demand, scarcity and perceived quality. Demand for Burgundy has caused prices to escalate to the point that I've virtually stopped buying all the wines I used to perceive as offering good QPR. I've largely substituted OR Pinots (no, they're not Burgundy) and often find them more than satisfying. The other night I enjoyed a $30 2010 Westrey Reserve Pinot. For comparable quality, I'd expect to pay $75 - $100 in Burgundy. Not that paying more for a Burg is a guarantee of commensurate quality IMHO.

If I spent 4x more for a $120 Oregon Pinot...would I get 4x the quality and comparable quality of a $300 - $400 GC or 1er Burg? I doubt it. The few $100+ OR Pinots I've tasted were very good to excellent but typically not profound in the way one expects from a GC Burg. I don't think there's any good way to judge other than to taste a lot of pricier OR Pinots in contrast to more affordable $30 - $60 options. For better or worse, I've become extremely satisfied with the depth and complexity of OR Pinots that are available for substantially less than $100. Market forces or unique tasting experiences might change that some day....and perhaps some day soon. But for now, OR remains an oasis of outstanding quality and affordable prices for Pinot lovers.

RT

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#24 Post by Todd Hamina » October 29th, 2018, 8:46 am

Oh this is easy. You want my 2012 Caroline. $90, but I can up the price to fit the criteria.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#25 Post by Anton D » October 29th, 2018, 8:57 am

I agree with Patricia Green and Eyrie.

I haven't had one in a while, but when the Oregon wave started, the Ponzi Reserve really captured my imagination. (Late 1980's.)
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#26 Post by Jim Stewart » October 29th, 2018, 9:00 am

Anton D wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 8:57 am
. . . I haven't had one in a while, but when the Oregon wave started, the Ponzi Reserve really captured my imagination. (Late 1980's.)
If you want to revisit, I recommend the 2013 Ponzi Reserve. Superb!
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#27 Post by Todd Hamina » October 29th, 2018, 9:06 am

Anton D wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 8:57 am
I agree with Patricia Green and Eyrie.

I haven't had one in a while, but when the Oregon wave started, the Ponzi Reserve really captured my imagination. (Late 1980's.)
The 1993 Ponzi Reserve was drop dead gorgeous.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#28 Post by R_Gilbane » October 29th, 2018, 10:17 am

Yeah this is all well and good but who makes the best Oregon gamay?
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#29 Post by Saul Mutchnick » October 29th, 2018, 11:15 am

R_Gilbane wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 10:17 am
Yeah this is all well and good but who makes the best Oregon gamay?
None of them are expensive enough to be any good.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#30 Post by Gordon Fitz » October 29th, 2018, 11:25 am

Brickhouse makes the best OR gamay hands down!

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#31 Post by Jim Anderson » October 29th, 2018, 11:58 am

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 6:03 am
As a lay consumer, my perspective is that fine wine prices are driven by a strange and difficult-to-predict correlation between marketing, demand, scarcity and perceived quality. Demand for Burgundy has caused prices to escalate to the point that I've virtually stopped buying all the wines I used to perceive as offering good QPR. I've largely substituted OR Pinots (no, they're not Burgundy) and often find them more than satisfying. The other night I enjoyed a $30 2010 Westrey Reserve Pinot. For comparable quality, I'd expect to pay $75 - $100 in Burgundy. Not that paying more for a Burg is a guarantee of commensurate quality IMHO.

If I spent 4x more for a $120 Oregon Pinot...would I get 4x the quality and comparable quality of a $300 - $400 GC or 1er Burg? I doubt it. The few $100+ OR Pinots I've tasted were very good to excellent but typically not profound in the way one expects from a GC Burg. I don't think there's any good way to judge other than to taste a lot of pricier OR Pinots in contrast to more affordable $30 - $60 options. For better or worse, I've become extremely satisfied with the depth and complexity of OR Pinots that are available for substantially less than $100. Market forces or unique tasting experiences might change that some day....and perhaps some day soon. But for now, OR remains an oasis of outstanding quality and affordable prices for Pinot lovers.

RT
I think that applying the percentage increase from a $30 wine to a $120 wine seems, well, unusual. The $120 wine needs to compete at a level a $400 wine does? In one case you are talking about $75~ difference, in another you are talking about close to $300. In reality the question is are $120 Oregon Pinots better than $120 Red Burgundies? You're an experienced Burgundy guy and have crossover to Oregon Pinots. I would say that I and likely other wineries are not necessarily trying to convince you that our $120 Oregon Pinot is as good as Grivot's Clos Vougeot (or whatever). We are trying get people that love the best that domestic Pinot Noir has to offer (IOHO) that are willing and able to pay $120 (or whatever) that don't care if some hundred year old Burgundy domaine has a wine that is better at 4x the price. The domaine that has the $400 wine isn't asking it's customers to consider whether their $100 village wine is 1/4th as good as their $400 Grand Cru and therefore the GC is the justifiable purchase. They established these vineyards and these wines and are commanding prices based upon what their customers will pay for those wines. It is really no different in the case of Oregon wines. I think people should buy Todd's $40 single vineyard wines, or Marcus Goodfellow's or ours and so on but I also think people should be aware that the top end wines that Tood, Marcus and we have at double/triple (whatever) the cost are freaking amazing wines that compete, usually, quite easily with Burgundies at the same price. If the test is that Oregon has to be 1/4 the price but the same quality as Burgundy then the test is rigged. I don't think we are, mostly, going to find the hard core Burgundy buyer to think our $150 Oregon wine is worth it. That's okay. We and others are convincing folks that they don't need to worry about what Burgundy has to offer.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#32 Post by Ron Erickson » October 29th, 2018, 12:25 pm

Some of the things Vlossak did with the fruit from Seven Springs was pretty incredible, but the access is no longer there.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#33 Post by Richard T r i m p i » October 29th, 2018, 12:29 pm

Jim, as you know, comparisons between Burgundy and OR are tricky, sometimes appropriate...sometimes not. Many $300 and $400 Burgs today could've been found for $120 - $150 not all that long ago. It was demand and scarcity that shot up the price...not a change in quality IMHO. So, in a somewhat twisted pseudo-logical not-easily-testable, consumer-centric way....I'd expect the quality of the highest priced OR Pinots to begin to rival that of higher priced Burgs. Whether demand will follow is anyone's guess.

I very much respect the work that you and others do to make great OR Pinot. There need to be some GC level efforts in Oregon to test the waters....and I have no problem with the concept.

Attend a tasting session at LaPaulee and the quality differences (with exceptions) are relatively evident at varying price points. The distinctions are much more blurred in OR although in general, the better wines are more expensive. In the past, If I was going to spend more than $60 for Pinot....it would definitely be for a Burg. These day, that's not true.....so perhaps there's ever increasing room for $100 - $120 OR Pinots? I'd want to taste/compare more thoroughly before plunging in.

RT

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#34 Post by Steven Orloff » October 29th, 2018, 1:05 pm

I was just in Oregon a few months back and tasted at Patty Green and Beaux Frere. Both of these producers are outstanding. I also like Cristom, Bergstrom and Ken Wright. There are probably a 1/2 dozen others like St. Innocent that I buy regularly.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#35 Post by Richard T r i m p i » October 29th, 2018, 1:10 pm

Gordon Fitz wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 11:25 am
Brickhouse makes the best OR gamay hands down!
Maybe true of old...and no slight to Doug or his abilities. I recently consumed a few bottles from Vincent (Vincent Fritzsche) and they were excellent and on par. Belle Pente does a very nice Gamay Noir. I'm sure there are others.

RT

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Rick Allen
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#36 Post by Rick Allen » October 29th, 2018, 1:21 pm

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 1:10 pm
Gordon Fitz wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 11:25 am
Brickhouse makes the best OR gamay hands down!
Maybe true of old...and no slight to Doug or his abilities. I recently consumed a few bottles from Vincent (Vincent Fritzsche) and they were excellent and on par. Belle Pente does a very nice Gamay Noir. I'm sure there are others.

RT
There are a bunch of Gamay producers, and most of their wines are very good to excellent. I believe that Doug was the first recipient of a new Gamay clone that was brought in several years ago, and that has added another dimension to his Gamays.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#37 Post by anthonyshideler » October 29th, 2018, 1:22 pm

+1 for Cameron. John Paul's 2016 Clos Electrique Rouge and 2016 Massale are two of the best wines I've tasted this year.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#38 Post by James Lyon » October 29th, 2018, 1:28 pm

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 1:10 pm
Gordon Fitz wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 11:25 am
Brickhouse makes the best OR gamay hands down!
Maybe true of old...and no slight to Doug or his abilities. I recently consumed a few bottles from Vincent (Vincent Fritzsche) and they were excellent and on par. Belle Pente does a very nice Gamay Noir. I'm sure there are others.

RT
Evening Land, Walter Scott with 2017 vintage, Chehalem, Division, and probably a few others in addition to Richard's list. I can vouch for Brick House, Vincent, Evening Land and Chehalem as enjoyable pours. Waiting on the Walter Scott and I'm sure that the Belle Pente is nice.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#39 Post by R_Gilbane » October 29th, 2018, 1:41 pm

James Lyon wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 1:28 pm
Richard T r i m p i wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 1:10 pm
Gordon Fitz wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 11:25 am
Brickhouse makes the best OR gamay hands down!
Maybe true of old...and no slight to Doug or his abilities. I recently consumed a few bottles from Vincent (Vincent Fritzsche) and they were excellent and on par. Belle Pente does a very nice Gamay Noir. I'm sure there are others.

RT
Evening Land, Walter Scott with 2017 vintage, Chehalem, Division, and probably a few others in addition to Richard's list. I can vouch for Brick House, Vincent, Evening Land and Chehalem as enjoyable pours. Waiting on the Walter Scott and I'm sure that the Belle Pente is nice.
I've had several of these wines and can say without question that gamay has a bright, vibrant future in Oregon.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#40 Post by Brandon R » October 29th, 2018, 3:15 pm

This is a funny discussion and the answer is, obviously, wickedly subjective. I'll try to answer your question. Bill, if you're looking for wines that are at the top end of the Oregon PN price threshold but are (reputed to be) of high quality, I'd probably go White Rose. I've heard people fawn over White Rose Pinot Noirs. I visited their tasting room last year with my wife. The property is gorgeous. BUT, when they wanted to charge me a large, non-credited-toward-purchase tasting fee to sample three wines, and then charge me $80+ per bottle, I was largely turned off. The wines were fine, sure, and made in a decidedly delicate style. That said, I didn't buy a single one and wouldn't. They're too expensive. For my dollars, I'd go Belle Pente, Goodfellow, Ponzi. They're not, "High End" but, of course, that's not what you're looking for.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#41 Post by Jim Anderson » October 29th, 2018, 4:26 pm

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 12:29 pm
Jim, as you know, comparisons between Burgundy and OR are tricky, sometimes appropriate...sometimes not. Many $300 and $400 Burgs today could've been found for $120 - $150 not all that long ago. It was demand and scarcity that shot up the price...not a change in quality IMHO. So, in a somewhat twisted pseudo-logical not-easily-testable, consumer-centric way....I'd expect the quality of the highest priced OR Pinots to begin to rival that of higher priced Burgs. Whether demand will follow is anyone's guess.

I very much respect the work that you and others do to make great OR Pinot. There need to be some GC level efforts in Oregon to test the waters....and I have no problem with the concept.

Attend a tasting session at LaPaulee and the quality differences (with exceptions) are relatively evident at varying price points. The distinctions are much more blurred in OR although in general, the better wines are more expensive. In the past, If I was going to spend more than $60 for Pinot....it would definitely be for a Burg. These day, that's not true.....so perhaps there's ever increasing room for $100 - $120 OR Pinots? I'd want to taste/compare more thoroughly before plunging in.

RT
We certainly benefit that Pinot is the grape of note here in Oregon and that the benchmark is Burgundy and that Burgundian wines have gone mostly into orbit price wise. Wines are mostly relative in their pricing. If we are successful at making wines that easily compete with $120-$200+ Burgs we are fine. That there are people that will spend $500+ on Burgundy but no more than $60 on Oregon is unfortunate but not necessarily really telling for us here as to whether the wines are qualitatively “worth it”, whether we can sell them or if there is a far different customer base that would spend $125 on a wine but thinks the idea of a $500+ wine is nuts/too much/out of their price range/whatever. There are customers that taste these wines and do find the value in them whether they are tasting relativistically or within a vacuum or simply comparing the wine to other Oregon wines. I think Oregon has much more slowly come around to the concept of $100 wines than California and the idea of Oregon wines being $100+ may take some getting used to but I think there are plenty of customers that think these wines are well worth it.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#42 Post by Del LaBand » October 29th, 2018, 4:34 pm

anthonyshideler wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 1:22 pm
+1 for Cameron. John Paul's 2016 Clos Electrique Rouge and 2016 Massale are two of the best wines I've tasted this year.
The 2016 Cameron Pinots are a slice of heaven, so pretty and amazingly pure. Bravo John Paul.
It would take something quite astonishing to top these.

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#43 Post by Jeremy Holmes » October 29th, 2018, 4:43 pm

The 2017 Failla Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a cracker for the money (no where near $100).

disclaimer: We sell Failla in Australia.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#44 Post by Kirk.Grant » October 29th, 2018, 5:18 pm

Bill Sweeney wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 5:05 am
Thanks Jim, interesting post as always. I love Oregon wines, but have little experience with the top end ones. Certainly in the context of what a good burg costs the top prices are not crazy.

The premier grape in California, at least as far as the market is concerned, is Cabernet, as the top prices for a Napa cab show. The premier grape in Oregon is clearly Pinot. From that perspective Oregon producers have been much more conservative in pricing then their Napa cousins.
...and it's a totally different experience visiting wineries in Oregon Vs. Napa or Sonoma. It's always felt personal when I was visiting a winery in Oregon...it's felt like business when I was in Napa.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#45 Post by Tom Wheltle » October 29th, 2018, 7:09 pm

Wasn't always like that in Napa, Kirk. Time passes, things change.

I remember Joe Heitz sitting in Charlie Wagner's tasting room late on a weekday afternoon. That was fun!

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#46 Post by Brandon J. » October 29th, 2018, 11:10 pm

Strange thread....It seems that you're confusing folks and beating around the bush. Just say you want a BSD wine Bill!

If you're genuine in that you want to know if the $100+ wines are "worth it" in Oregon, then in my opinion the answer is "no". Burgundy will still beat most, if not all Oregon wine in that price point. If you are looking for wines that will impress....there's Domaine Serene Monogram. Gobs of fruit, loads of oak, and an overextracted hot mess with no sense of place or vintage. Is it "worth" $250? No. I don't think it's worth $25, but some love it.

Cristom, DDO and White Rose are the big ones for me over $100. They make lovely wine. Eyrie also is up there but again, paying $100-$200 for Oregon wine baffles me when there's SO much better wines elsewhere for that price.

Ask again in 30 years when we figure out our Crus for Oregon. I think Maresh vineyard along with a few others will be making some of the most beautiful wines from Oregon.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#47 Post by Richard T r i m p i » October 30th, 2018, 5:46 am

Brandon J. wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 11:10 pm
paying $100-$200 for Oregon wine baffles me when there's SO much better wines elsewhere for that price.
I think this is the crux of the matter. My perception is that Bill Sweeney started this thread asking about $100+ Oregon Pinots with the expectation that they'd be the best. There's a not insignificant number of wine buyers who want "the best" and believe fine wine buying starts at $100+. Aubert, Marcassin, Peter Michael and post release Kosta-Browne or Kistler are a few examples from CA.

Jim's argument is that he can make Oregon Pinot Noir that's worth $100+/bottle. It's quite a challenge, considering the less expensive competition and Burgundy alternatives, but I believe it's a worthy pursuit. There's no reason not to broadly test the top of the OR Pinot market. There'll need to be some consistent home runs to establish that price point, but it won't happen unless winemakers step up to the plate and swing.

Meanwhile, stock up on "cheaper" OR Pinot because it's still the best value in the world....YMMV.

RT

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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#48 Post by Jim Anderson » October 30th, 2018, 8:59 am

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
October 30th, 2018, 5:46 am
Brandon J. wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 11:10 pm
paying $100-$200 for Oregon wine baffles me when there's SO much better wines elsewhere for that price.
I think this is the crux of the matter. My perception is that Bill Sweeney started this thread asking about $100+ Oregon Pinots with the expectation that they'd be the best. There's a not insignificant number of wine buyers who want "the best" and believe fine wine buying starts at $100+. Aubert, Marcassin, Peter Michael and post release Kosta-Browne or Kistler are a few examples from CA.

Jim's argument is that he can make Oregon Pinot Noir that's worth $100+/bottle. It's quite a challenge, considering the less expensive competition and Burgundy alternatives, but I believe it's a worthy pursuit. There's no reason not to broadly test the top of the OR Pinot market. There'll need to be some consistent home runs to establish that price point, but it won't happen unless winemakers step up to the plate and swing.

Meanwhile, stock up on "cheaper" OR Pinot because it's still the best value in the world....YMMV.

RT
Again, I would say a couple of folks here are coming from the $350 Burgundy alternative to the $125 Oregon Pinot Noir. Those people are not, by and large going to to be the customers of the higher end Oregon Pinots. That's fine. There are plenty of threads on this board about the minefield of Burgundy so let's not pretend that every $100-$1,000 Burgundy is the supreme example of Pinot Noir. The folks whose upper tier wines I have had and respect know Burgundy, have spent money and time there, have been making wines for a long time and feel that they have wines that operate in that realm. I get it, if you are inclined to the top 1ers and GCs of Burgundy and have decided what price point Oregon stops at then this thread is pointless to you. I don't see it that way and, aside from being biased, think it is a logically flawed way of looking at things. The $400 Burgundy is obviously superior to the $100 Burgundy but the $125 Oregon Pinot cannot be discerned from the $50 one but somehow the $50 Oregon Pinot is superior to the $50 Burgundy. I realize making purchasing decisions come from personal taste, economic factors of all kind and some sort of internal QPR (as well as a myriad of other factors, of course) so if you have pre-determined that there is a magic price point at which Oregon begins to fail but Burgundy does not then that is your bias and that's fine and please continue to buy wineries' sub-whatever price point wine you have settled upon. More than 2/3rds of our production of Pinot Noir retails for $25-$42 so certainly that is a category we believe in and need to function for us (and 85% of our white wine is under $30 as well). I am certainly not attempting to run a winery that bases itself upon having the most expensive wine on the planet. But I do believe in Oregon and we have all the elements that make for having wines that are truly exceptional and in many ways have advantages over Burgundy in the continuing production of wines of a certain quality and corresponding price. We don't need to try and convert the hard core Burgundy drinkers because by and large we will not because of the inherently rigged system of "this $100 wine is too expensive but this $350 wine is not." Our goal as businesses here is to find the people who are not trying to make value judgments as to whether our wines match up to the legendary wines from great producers 6,000 miles away. I understand where the Burg drinkers are coming from. It is not as if I do not know (and, believe me, there are plenty of producers of Pinot Noir in the US that have little to no idea about Burgundy) so I get your point of view but as a winemaker and business owner I don't believe in it and, if I did, I would not even bother doing what I do. We have two wines at $100+. I am pretty confident in both of them and where they fall in the mythical hierarchy of Pinot Noirs. I am sure Todd would say the same thing about his $90 wine.
Last edited by Jim Anderson on October 30th, 2018, 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#49 Post by Jim Stewart » October 30th, 2018, 9:16 am

Jim, Your are a passionate guy! And I say that as a compliment (and with a little envy). Cheers. -Jim
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Re: Best Oregon Pinot?

#50 Post by Doug Schulman » October 30th, 2018, 10:14 am

AlexS wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 3:32 pm
Eyrie South Block Reserve
A simple answer to a simple question, and I agree. The track record this wine has for aging confirms its extremely high quality. And yes, it's over $100 on release.
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