Full Bodied Oregon Pinot Noir

My dad recently complained about a few Bethel Heights we had had in a blind tasting, complaining it was too big/bold. He canceled his membership shortly after that to sign up at Eyrie looking for a racier red fruited pinot. I’d consider stopping at Bethel (Salem) on your way up. My experience with them has been very dark rich fruited wines. Beyond that I would seek some players out in the Yamhill-Carlton Ava. Yamhill to me screams the most CA out here and only because Ive found the wines to have more “fruit (dark)” characteristics whereas Chehalem/Dundee/RR show way more earth tones to me. RR to me always has dark red notes with Green Herbs. Dundee more red fruit/tobacco (mainly experience w/ White Rose). Then Chehalem red cranberry and soily earth tones. Yamhill…. BLUE FRUIT and therefore closest to CA in my opinion!

Try Claygate.

Dusky Goose?

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Apropos of this thread…

I can see this for riper vintages at BH. Eyrie is comparatively quite racy (as are Marcus’s wines). But it’s a shame to give up on Bethel Heights IMHO. They make some of the best OR Pinots I’ve ever had…and I’m a fairly avowed AFWE Pinot guy.

You do mention Chehalem and my experience is that they’re often riper and bolder.


I’m honestly a bit surprised to hear some people thinkDom Serene isn’t in that category. I’ve always felt like they were an archetype that style. But it’s one of the interesting things about this hobby. Lots of different perceptions based on one’s own experiences and influences. I would still suggest it’s worth a try for the OP and he can decide for himself… At the very least I’m sure it would be a nice visit.

As to BF, I won’t wade further into stylistic categorization other than to say I’ve never heard anyone argue they are in a restrained category. As I mentioned originally, they are definitely not in the same category as many of those above, and they have Definitely evolved from the late 90s vintages that I cut my teeth on. Those certainly might have been more influenced by one of the original co-owners. For context, last time I tasted through them would’ve been in the 2015/2016 vintages, which as has been noted were warmer vintages and admittedly likely influenced my perceptions. Another nice place to spend some time even if it doesn’t end up being in the OP’s wheel house.

I think Vincent’s post about vintage is really a good one. Goodfellow tends to be pretty far to the lighter bodied side of the Oregon spectrum, but our 2015 wines from Durant and Fir Crest are both relatively full bodied.

There are plenty of producers listed above that fit the bill, and I would add Cristom, but it’s worth listing some of the warmer areas as well. Yamhill-Carlton tends to produce more full bodied wines in general(and if you like stems, Soter might also be a good choice). McMinnville also tends to produce bigger, darker, and sometimes fairly tannic wines, but Hyland is generally well regarded and darker(as are the Brittan estate wines). And lower elevation Dundee Hills wines can as well. I’ve also typically found Freedom Hill to produce bigger wines, but both Patricia Green and Walter Scott are making great wines from there.

That said, the Walter Scott wines are excellent and usually have plenty of texture, to where I think you might really enjoy them(though I do not think they have wine to sell until 2021s are bottled.)

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I strongly disagree with any assertion that a Burgundy is what the OP would like. I have never yet found a red Burg that is anywhere close to a Cali-type style, and it’s not even close. Even “riper” Burg producers make wine that, when tasted with a full-bodied CA style (or bigger OR style) in mind, would certainly disappoint. I really also disagree with Vincent…not what the OP is looking for, IMO.

As other have said above, I’d go Domaine Serene, Bergstrom, Shea, Ponzi, Sineann, Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin…

OP: I’d avoid the following Oregon producers: Vincent, Goodfellow, Belle Pente, Biggio Hamina, Evening Land, Eyrie, Thomas. They’re all great, but not in a style you’re seeking out (generally speaking).

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Having what I would consider a decent amount of experience with Sojourn and KB wines, here are my recs for OR wineries that you might enjoy:
Archery Summit
Domaine Serene
White Rose (specifically keying off the whole cluster comment)
Eminent Domaine

I would suggest focusing on Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge, as I find wines from those areas to be richer than Eola-Amity, McMinnville, or Yamhill-Carlton. Chehalem Mountains is a crap shoot since there is so much diversity in that AVA.

Interesting conversation - thanks for all of the insights and recommendations. It’s always ‘challenging’ to compare regions, especially with a ‘style’ that a region is not usually ‘associated’ with. But this thread goes to show that there is more ‘variety’ to OR producers than I was aware of, which is an awesome thing.

Good luck on your search - and at the end of the day, let us know how the recommendations work out for you.

My guess is that you will be most happy with those pinots that are more ‘fruit forward’ and ‘rounded’ and less acidic and earthy. And there’s no problem with that - to each their own.


That is the only Vincent wine I would put in that category–but it was thick and mouth coating, darker fruit; midpalate for days:

Again, have you tried Lumpp or Ambroise? Ambroise is widely known as how to introduce Cali pinot drinkers to Burgundy. Lumpp is something I only buy in cooler vintages–but is ripe and extracted with a mouth coating mid.

Indeed the 2016s have some body on them, in general. I hadn’t thought of it but my 2018 barrels of Silvershot seemed a little too Californian and I ended up blending them with a few other things for a “Tardive” cuvee of Willamette Valley Pinot noir. Blind I might guess warm vintage Sonoma coast or Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s delicious but atypical to me.

Note - I’m a native Californian. There’s great Pinot in California. But Oregon isn’t California so it makes sense to me to value some different things to get what’s best here. That said, I make no adjustments in the winery and I want vintages and sites to speak for themselves each year. The Willamette Valley is an inland Pacific coastal valley with warm and dry summers perfect for growing grapes. Some years warmer than usual, some years not. We take what we get. I think it’s the most exciting place for wine on the west coast.

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Although I most often drink more restrained styles of Pinot, I do sometimes enjoy a big, ripe RRV Pinot. I recently grabbed a Shea Shea Vineyard Pinot just to see what it would be like and I thought it was such a strange wine. Like a genetically skinny person who decided to start taking steriods.

I just don’t think the Willamette Valley fruit profile lends itself to big, ripe Pinot. I would stick to the California versions where the fruit profile lends itself to better wines in that style i.e. the candied cherry/strawberry/cola style of RRV.

Thanks for all the suggestions including the discussions regarding vintage and AVA - great information. Just to be clear, I fully expect Oregon Pinot to be true to itself and I am not necessarily looking for a “California Pinot”, but I guess I would gravitate towards darker fruited wines with some depth to it. Since I have been thinking about Oregon for some time, I did (based on vintage, the winery’s descriptions, Cellar Tracker and critic’s notes) pick up several assorted Walter Scott wines, but I have laid those down - I should probably pop one of those corks. Thanks again - this has been very helpful. Cheers!

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I’d certainly recommend them. Excellent wines. NOT at all what you’re asking for IMHO. Hopefully you enjoy them.


2018 stained the concrete like squid ink when grapes hit the floor.

We spent a few days in the Willamette Valley on our road trip back in August and mostly went in seeking an alternative to Burgundy. I’ll be honest - I didn’t really find it. I found numerous quality wines - Brick House in particular, but also others like Martin Woods, Drouhin and Arteberry Maresh. However none of them struck me as “cool climate” to me as all had ample fruit with less savory qualities than I expected. Perhaps that’s due to a string of warmer vintages in Oregon but I don’t think anyone could assess these as “light” or thin. In fact, I came away more impressed with the Chardonnay and Gamay from Oregon than I did the Pinot.

…and despite Randall Graham’s post, I think there’s plenty of California Pinot that is leaner and more nervy than what I had in Oregon simply because their proximity to the Pacific Ocean whereas the coast ranges in Oregon keep the valley quite warm and temperate.

Now more specifically to the original post - I’d give both Domaine Drouhin and Brick House a try. Drouhin shows more purity of fruit, but these are well made and might be more immediately appealing. Brick House was simply the best producer we came across in Oregon - and simply had tons of character and charm.

I would add both Claude Dugat’s wines and Dugat-Py to California-like Burgundy. Maybe a bit more tannin but big fruit based wines that are more new world-ish than not(IMO).

It also bears mentioning that many of the racier producers wines put on a fair amount of weight over time.

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Vintage variation would suggest he avoid 2019, but I think the Walter Scott wines do a great job of staying elegant while still offering enough texture to appeal to people who would normally lean to bigger wines.

This recommendation isn’t trying to give the OP the biggest wines, but rather an opportunity to see where the boundary for his palate actually is. I would also recommend he try a warm vintage Belle Pente or Brickhouse as well.

Though he should probably avoid 2017 and 2018 as they are kind of closed/shut down(though that’s not based upon a far ranging number of data points.)

That figures… [head-bang.gif] BTW, the W-S’s were 2018’s. I’m not going to impulse buy any additional Oregon Pinot until I make the trip. Also looking forward to trying Oregon Chard.