TNs: Oregon Pinot Exploration

What, no Domaine Serene? [scratch.gif] [pillow-fight.gif]

Seriously, sounds like a typical enjoyable night out in the woods. Would you elaborate on the '12 Murto? I was thinking about pulling one of those this past weekend, but decided to pass. It sounds like is showed well for you.

So Scott, if you’re ever out in Oregon-look me up. Just for fun, I’d be happy to pour you, blind of course, a couple of flights of solid 1er Cru Burgs and a few Oregon wines together and see if you still think it’s not close.
I still think France is in the lead but there are a few Oregon vineyards that make a case that the gap is closing.

Rich-sorry that 05 didn’t perform a bit better. It’s a dynamite vintage, and while sometimes the 05s still take a little while to rev up, they are mostly showing well with a little air.

I love love love posts like this. Comparing apples to apples in a way where I learn a ton. I love some Oregon wines but I’m not willing to make the investment to get “knowledgeable” about them. A post like this is as helpful to me as tasting twenty Oregon wines. I receive Thomas (love its vintage to vintage idiosyncracies, very much like Clos Saron in Calif) and Arterberry Maresh Maresh (love it on release, confused about what happens with age) every year and I’ve had enough Beaux Freres to admire it but not get excited about it. Beyond that it’s a minefield.Thank you.

John thanks for the kind words.

Monte thanks for the invite.

Cheers Jim and Andy, see you this Summer.

Greg, The '12 Murto continues the remarkable streak from '10 and '11. Thought it would be an interesting youthful counterpoint to the '04…and it delivered a good bit more. Just another example of how I couldn’t bundle 2012 with 03, 06 and 09. No harm exploring if you have a few, but it’ll be better in another year or two.

Marcus, no worries. I’ve had the 05 Souris a handful of times with better results. Bob contributed the '13 Richard’s Cuvee…so the gospel is spreading.

George, the beauty of the OR “minefield” (which all wine regions understandably can be if unfamiliar) is that you can do a lot of exploration and not break the bank.


I think there are Burgundies that cost a LOT less than DRC that are better than anything from Oregon or the New World in general, but that doesn’t mean Oregon Pinot Noir (or Otago or Martinborough or Anderson Valley or Santa Cruz Mountains or Patagonia or Tasmania etc. etc.) is not worthwhile. There are a lot of really good New World Pinot Noirs that are similarly priced to Burgundies of comparable quality. I’d say the same things about Chenin, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Only being concerned with the “best” means missing out on most of the diverse world of wine.

I know Jim Anderson is joking to a degree, but just IMO, there was a notable qualitative difference between the '05 Cameron Abbey Ridge and the '06 Cameron Arley’s Leap.

Now given my lack of familiarity with the producer, that could be more about the vineyard than the vintage, but the '05 was singing compared to it’s younger sibling.

Doug please name 40 specific $40 or less burgs that are better than anything coming out of Oregon.

I ask not to be dick but I would like to try them side by side blind. This would be very educational for me.

Me too! Just try and pick Burgs which are somewhat widely available in the US so we can actually track them down.

I have a couple of Burgs that are fun and not too far above $40:

Chandon de Briailles Pernand Vergelesses “Ille de Vergelesses”. Can be as low as $50, and is a really lovely wine year in and year out.

A little harder to find but lovely if you do, Mercurey producer Philippe Garrey makes very lovely wines as well.

Fernand and Laurent Pillot also do very solid and fairly priced wines.

This tasting was fantastic.
I wasn’t taking notes, but I’ll offer a few insights:
2013 Crowley Four Winds Chardonnay - This was excellent. I enjoyed the vibrancy of this over the as-yet-untapped depths of the Goodfellow.
2013 Goodfellow Richard’s Cuvee Chardonnay - Agreed, this has the longer aging curve and we caught it a bit young.
2013 Goodfellow Willamette Pinot Noir - Great acidity here and a good blast of fruit. Solid.
2005 Cameron Abbey Ridge Pinot Noir - This was impressive. For me, the funk masked the wine’s greatness until about 2 hours in…then it really began to hit its stride. Probably my #4 on the night, which says more about the strength of this lineup than it does about this wine.
2006 Cameron Arley’s Leap Pinot Noir - I remember opening one of these from my cellar with Rich last year and remarking how there was no funk on that bottle either. Agree with the other comments - open sooner than later.
2002 Joseph Swan Trenton Estate Pinot Noir - I was really shooting for something Cali that could run with the OR crowd when I pulled the Swan. It was the oldest wine on the table, yet showed as one of the youngest. Was hoping for more earth and secondary characteristics based on the bottle age, but this was full on ripe fruit which made it easy to peg as Cali in this lineup (both Bob and Rich nailed it).
2004 Belle Pente Murto Pinot Noir - Showing some crow’s feet around the temples, although still a looker.
2012 Belle Pente Murto Pinot Noir - This was awesome. Loved how it opened up and revealed Brian’s ability to capture red and blue fruit with a balanced acidic spine. Calling it my #3 for the evening.
2004 Westrey Abbey Ridge Pinot Noir - Tired.
2011 Westrey Abbey Ridge Pinot Noir - I liked this far better than the 04…it’s in a good place and was rock solid. I realize this is not much of a tasting note…but suffice to say I took the leftovers home, where they were consumed quickly. Westrey remains great QPR.
2005 Matello Souris Pinot Noir - Glad this got better day 2 because it was definitely weird at first. Stemmy characteristics were at the forefront.
2012 Goodfellow Durant Pinot Noir - A bit shut down, but has good upside.
2008 Vazart Coquart & Fils Special Club Brut Blanc de Blancs - Lots of yeasty bread dough, with a spot of anise in the middle. Zingy acidity. My wife dug this, big time.
2004 Patricia Green Estate Reserve Pinot Noir - A really nice wine. Evolved, complex red fruit. My #2.
2005 Bethel Heights Seven Springs Pinot Noir - Really fantastic - possibly one of my favorite Bethel Heights ever. Calling it my #5 on this night doesn’t really do it justice. Simply in the zone, and what I expect a balanced OR PN to show - earth, fruit, subtle spice, vibrant acid.
2007 Thomas Pinot Noir - Amazing. Great breadth as well as depth to the flavors, all very cohesive and understandable. Balanced. My WOTN.
2007 Hamacher Pinot Noir - I have had Hamacher before but not one that delivered as much as this one. Could be the “shitty” vintage striking my fancy, but this absolutely worked.
2004 Iron Horse Late Harvest Viognier - Nice brace of acidity to counter the sweetness. Good stuff.
It was great to see everyone again, a big thanks again. Shout out to Bob for making the long trek to the Trimpi Woods - it was fun to remonstrate about central PA schools, baseball, and of course wine. Rich and Joanne’s generosity cannot be overstated – a great evening with even better people. [cheers.gif]

Taste isn’t linear.

I think that gap was never all that wide to begin with, excluding top tier burgs that are now priced in the stratosphere. Old reserve Eyries are often seriously good, in my somewhat limited experience.

There may be more gems among the dross these days, but the gems have been there from day one.

I have no idea how this is relevant to my post.

Scott, thanks for the impressions. Forgot about the '11 Abbey Ridge! The differences between the Swan and most of that OR Pinot lineup were pretty dramatic. Some wines showed better than expected, some less. The great bottle vs. great wine argument isn’t unfounded.


Doug, I completely understand the rest of your post and I agree but you start by saying the above. I was hoping you could provide a list of burgs that are comparable in price to around a $40 Oregon Pinot that you would consider to be better than anything coming out of Oregon. I then could search out said burgs and do some comparable blind tastings.

Trent, not Doug, but I also scratched my head when you posted your original request - you’ve taken Doug’s fairly straightforward comment and morphed it into a comparison of wines at a $40 price point. That’s certainly not what Doug said, and if one wants to hold at that price level, it’s quite possible that he might not even agree with the premise - after all, the “playing field” for Red Burgundy at a $40 price point is very limited unless you are looking to buy less desirable vintages at close-out prices.

My thoughts exactly.

Bob, an interesting contrast has been attending both IPNC and LaPaulee for several years. I walk out of each with a notebook of chicken scratch and little stars next to many dozens of wines that I want to buy and explore deeper.

Over the past few years, the price range for the OR Pinots is $30 - $70 and the Burgs are $60 - $150+. They pour a few Burgs at every IPNC, which creates a fine contrast…and results in a similar pricing disparity.

OR Pinot is not Burgundy…although the style can be Burgundian. If I’m looking for great Pinot that’s going to improve for 15 - 20+ years, Burgs are my first choice. I spend a lot of time looking for satisfying once or twice/week Pinot that can drink well early or 5, 10 or 15 years down the road…this is where OR delivers. I’m sure it’d be different if I lived in east central France. YMMV.


Would agree (even though I haven’t been to IPNC) :wink:

Or perhaps stated another way, if cost was no object and I had all the time in the world, I would generally buy Chevillon premier crus rather than an Oregon Pinot.

But, the “trade” in that implied decision is waiting an additional 10+ years for your wines to “harmonize” and paying an additional $40 a bottle.

One could certainly do the same kind of analysis with D’Angerville or similarly situated producers.


I’m not looking to pick a fight here just trying to learn about some burgs that Doug deems comparable or better than anything from Oregon. Doug states and I think the key sentence is his second in which he states, “There are a lot of really good New World Pinot Noirs that are similarly priced to Burgundies of comparable quality.”

I was just asking him to point out a bunch so I could go research them and hopefully buy some. I choose the $40 price point as that’s about the average for an Oregon higher end wine. If that needs to be raised then that’s ok as long as its done on both sides of the aisle.

Hopefully that clears things up. If not, please ask me to state this another way.