Oregon Wine 2019

These Are the 5 Best Not-Pinots in Oregon Under $40

Ancient Georgian saperavi to gamay noir, this state's got it.

By Jane Smith Edited by Ramona DeNies September 23, 2019 Published in the October 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Who picked these wines? Restaurateur Jane Smith runs Estes x Dame and the wine programs at Dame and Mae. She’s grateful to be surrounded by a wine-crazy staff and ambitious local winemakers.

Color Collector 2018 Gamay Noir, Van Duzer Corridor This wine is lively. I get a cool salal berry thing, cranberry, and pine with deep minerality. Winemaker Bethany Kimmel has such a warm presence, her wine is (and will continue to be) delicious, and her labels are too damn beautiful. She does everything by hand, and it shows. Buy Division Wine, Providore, $30

Buona Notte 2016 Cento Per Cento Sangiovese, Columbia Valley The purity of this wine really stands out. Everything lines up and is in balance: lithe but still really satisfying. Our whole staff absolutely fell in love with this wine, along with our guests. So good—no tasting notes necessary. Buy Dame, $30 (2017 just released, Ardor Natural Wines, $30)

Maloof 2018 Wax On, Wax Soif, Applegate Valley Ross and Bee Maloof are a husband-and-wife team based in Dundee. She’s a babe and an aerospace materials engineer. He’s a babe and a wine/hospitality pro. This blend of Syrah, Marsanne, and roussanne is super-drinkable, with a little wildness, pepper, game, herbage, and some sort of berry—like blackcap raspberries?—that hasn’t been discovered yet. Buy Division Wine, Dame, $25

Smockshop Band 2018 Spring Ephemeral Grenache, Columbia Valley Winemaker Nate Ready’s Hiyu Wine Farm Falcon Box and Atavus were two wines that made me sit down deeper and take a big breath. He’s also behind the less-pricey label Smockshop Band. This grenache brought me back to growing up in Central Oregon: high desert, sagebrush, and a rose perfume I made as a kid. Buy Dame, hiyuwinefarm.com, $38 

Vinous Obscura 2018 Paint, Dye, Give Color Saperavi, Columbia Gorge Jeff Vejr, co-owner of NE Alberta’s subterranean wine bar Les Caves, is the winemaker behind niche brands Golden Cluster, ∆ - Oregon (alt-Oregon), and Vinous Obscura. This wine, the first on the West Coast made with saperavi (an ancient red wine varietal from the modern nation of Georgia), is restrained and elegant, with lovely fruit, acid, and tannin. Buy Baldwin’s Bottle Shop, Les Caves, $29

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