Oregon Pinot Noir

I’m curious at to how people categorize the last several vintages. The last year I bought in any quantity was 2008 - the timing of which seemed to coincide perfectly with many 2002 bottles starting into their window. It seems like 2009 was overall a poor vintage but several producers made good wine. I’m curious at to how '10, '11, '12 and '13 compare to each other. When I was recently in Portland many people were excited about 2012 but it sounded like the wines might be a bit more plush that the leaner vintages that i prefer. To be honest, I’ve just forgotten most of what I was told on recent vintages and don’t trust any of the commercial vintage reviews. Perhaps there are some good years to backfill.

On a related note, I can’t remember who it was but a year or so ago they posted a wonderful comparison of OR vintages with essentially 3 categories as I recall. The first was leaner and more Burgundian, the second was hotter and more Californian and the third was OR vintages which I recall the poster threw in 2002 and 2008 (and maybe '99). Ever since then, its how I’ve thought about OR pinot and more specifically it makes me wonder if any of the recent vintages falls into the OR category.


Let’s see if I can use those three categories for you:

'09: Cali
'10: Oregon
'11: Burgundy
'12: Cali
'13: Oregon
'14: Caligon (Warmer year, but not near as warm as '09 and '12)
'15: Too early to tell, but it was a very hot year, but cooled off as we got to harvest, so I think the wines will be more than just ripe fruit bombs.

In retrospect, I wish I’d saved 50% of the money spent on 2008 and spent it on 2010 and 2011!

I largely agree with John. My inner AFWE just couldn’t be as dismissive of 12 as 09. For me, the jury is still out on 13s and 14s. Jim A has some arbitrary requirement of tasting numerous Pinots from a vintage before making pronouncements…something like 100+ (but no definite number IIRC)…which is too many. Solid concept.


They’re all shitty.

I have liked many wines from 2012 OR pinots I have tried, such as Domaine Drouhin, Patricia Green Freedom Hill, Ponzi WV, Four Graces, St. Innocent, Adelsheim, etc. They do have more stuffing than 2011, but still are OR in style. 2013 looking solid from the few I have tried. [cheers.gif]

Maybe 09 was a Global Year Of Cali: half the Burgundy from that vintage I’ve tried has been unbalanced to my tastes. (I’ve actually had a pretty decent hit rate with 09 CA pinots: maybe those grapes and winemakers handled the Year Of Cali more naturally. Though even there I’ve had better luck with 08s.)

I enjoy the Cali - Oregon - Burgundy vintage classification system; thanks. It’s at least as useful as any other system which reduces a vintage to one score… and funner.

I will probably take shit for saying this but I’m going to be honest. 2008 has taken a long time to show anything and I’m not certain I’ll ever get the joy from it I’ve gotten from '10 (and '11s are starting to show). I resisted buying 12s for the same reason but ended up with more than I had planned on buying. Tasting at PGC I loved the vintage but so many of those I’ve opened from other wineries just lack the charm and verve I look for from Oregon. To me Oregon is all about cooler years. Warmer years just lack identity to me. But I’m a newbie with a bad palate. YMMV.

12s to me are stacked but not overripe. Kind of (for comparison’s sake) like '10 burgs. With a caveat that I’ve only had 2012 wines from more AFWE-style producers. I haven’t had any that were too ripe or lacked OR typicity.

Thanks for all the input. I’ve really enjoyed the '10 Belle Pente Murtos that I have opened but that’s about it from '10 and I got a case or so of '11 Belle Pentes. I enjoyed the '12 EIEIO wines that I tasted when I was visiting and bought a few. Looks like '13 could be a year to buy.

Sorry to read some of the comments about the 2008’s. I had high hopes based on what I read about the vintage.

In order of AFWE - 2011, 2010, 2013, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2009.
I’ve found plenty to like in every one of those vintages. (Only barrel samples of 2015)
You just have to chose the producer carefully.

P Hickner

Where would you throw 2008 in that mix Peter? Or does it not really fit?

I spent a few minutes searching around on-line and it looks like there are a lot of good 2011 (and some 2010) bargains to be had. Maybe this is a good time to focus on back-filling.

James, you should taste several 08s for yourself. At the recent post-IPNC tasting, the vintage impressed me as riper than expected/remembered. In general, they’ve morphed from remarkably structured (acid/tannins) in-your-face to ripe and broad shouldered. Many are quite tasty although elegance and finesse are fairly scarce, compared to the better wines from cooler vintages. YMMV.


I guess the question that comes to mind most when reading these threads is whether some ripe but well-balanced vintages are maligned as overly ripe because people are evaluating them too young. If this were Burgundy no one (okay, very few) would be suggesting that '05 or '10 or '02 or even '99 was too ripe of a vintage. Yet to me those vintages are similar to '08 or '12 in Oregon. So certainly they might be in an awkward stage now (though some recent '08 Westreys were excellent IMO) but might simply have the stuffing to age more similarly to a good burgundy vintage and emerge excellent.

Richard, I know that you for one drink far more OR PN than I do, but I find it odd to hear '08 being described as too ripe, particularly by anyone has felt otherwise in the past, when it seems more likely to be, if anything, a phase. Only time will tell I suppose, but again, the only recent '08s I’ve had seemed very good.

I thought the 2008s were kind of cludgy as well, and had that fear about the vintage for some time. As I related on this Board a number of years ago, both Jason Lett and John Paul told me that they preferred the 2007s over the 2008s.


I’m in no way saying…“bail and sell all your 08 OR Pinots”. There’re probably 100+ bottles downstairs, many of which I have high hopes for. That said, I own some that I’d rather substitute for '10s. If the 08s follow the same trajectory and show any warmer, my opinion will increasingly slide towards 10.

My beliefs:

OR Pinots don’t have anywhere near the aging track record of Burgundy. Period. Some do. Most don’t. Work in progress.
Some '99 and '02 Burgs are too ripe for my preferences. Most aren’t. I expect I’ll say the same about some '05s. Haven’t touched any 10 Burgs in a while and don’t plan to.
Pinots that start without noticeable heat and then display it several years down the road…make me uneasy. It could be a “phase” but it’s not a welcome one.
“Ripe” Pinots are made in both places, more so in OR, and I typically don’t prefer them. There’s a fine highly-idiosyncratic line between adequately ripe and too ripe.
There are always very good to excellent wines in ripe vintages, both Burgundy and OR, even to my tastes.


I think you could be correct. I wasn’t kidding when I said I am a newbie, as I have only had 10 or so Oregon pinots over 15 years of age, and only a few of those were from vintages built for the long haul. Most of my experience has included wines between 1 and 10 years. I really trust Jim Anderson’s perspective and he has posted TNs from several older vintages that were considered ripe and found they aged quite well, morphing into something quite nice. Yes, some of these wines were his own, so I’m not sure if other producers would fare the same in warmer years. That’s an empirical question I’d love to investigate. :slight_smile:

I don’t have the money or the patience to buy many Oregon wines that I cannot enjoy within 7-10 years after harvest. I set aside funds for only a handful of such wines in each year.

I think that '08s are just going to take longer to get integrated and settled down compared to '10s, which I think didn’t really need any time to be delicious. Just like '07 took some time, '08 will take some time (likely longer than '07), and I’m still of the belief that it is too early to tell on '08.

Just out of curiosity where would you place Penner Ash - Burgundian or Oregon style?

Penner Ash- Oregon, leaning towards CA
'08 Oregon- About the same as '12, but can vary by producer. Some winemakers have tightened their style, and
every vintage is a learning experience. I really like the '08s in general, but about a third of the wines tasted at the post IPNC marathon I would not buy again.

P Hickner

Penner Ash is Oregon - ripe Oregon (I’d say Cali, but that is a stereotype and I don’t have enough experience with CA wine to make that assertion). Ripe and plush, low acid, high alcohol, and generous oak. Well done for the style, but not what I would call Burgundian.

Interesting to hear the discussion on '08. I didn’t buy much - not just because I didn’t buy into the hype - mostly because when they were released I was living in an apartment, then a new house, my second child had just been born and I was broke, but that’s another story. Anyway, I found them puzzling - they seemed like they would be good, but didn’t give anything away. And they weren’t enjoyable to drink at the time. I just couldn’t tell. Everyone seemed convinced it was going to be an amazing, legendary vintage… and maybe it still will end up being that, but it’s interesting to see there’s some question about it now.