Oregon Wine 2019

These Are the 5 Best Oregon Pinot Noirs Under $40

That includes the "Michelle Obama of Willamette Valley pinot."

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

Who picked these wines? Kristen Young, an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a 16-year Seattle restaurant scene vet (Bastille, RN74), is the new wine director at storied steak and wine haunt Ringside.

Suzor 2015 The Tower Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District This bottling from rising-star winemaker Greg McClellan offers a silky texture, great density, with notes of dark, ripe plums, sweet baking spices, salted caramel, and crushed leaves. I love the vineyard sourcing: one-third bright, elegant Menefee Vineyard, two-thirds dark, sinister fruit, all muscle and tension, from Fennwood Vineyard. Buy Great Wine Buys, Park Avenue Fine Wines, $36

Flâneur 2017 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley One of the most accessible Willamette Valley pinots I’ve seen. Ripe wild strawberry, raspberry, spice, roasted mushrooms, forest floor herbs, with a finish of candied grapefruit. Tremendous minerality from the unique soil types (Jory and marine sedimentary) of the two estate vineyards shows in the bottle, as does the craftsmanship of winemaker Grant Coulter. Buy Division Wine, Park Avenue Fine Wines, Vinopolis, $28

Violin Wine 2016 Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Exemplifies why the Eola-Amity Hills are beloved both among veteran collectors and new fans. Aromatics of violets and dark baking spices. A pleasure to drink now, with a structure that’ll age gracefully and continue to give: the Michelle Obama of Willamette Valley pinot! Buy Avalon Wine, Park Avenue Fine Wines, Whole Foods Pearl, $39 

Walter Scott 2018 La Combe Verte Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Wine geeks like me adore single-vineyard bottlings, but wines like this are the Willamette Valley’s true ambassadors. Blackberry, cherry, squeaky blueberry, black tea, and earth: a savory, muscular “old soul” pinot with enough
acidity and heft to cut through a dry-aged rib eye. Buy Avalon Wine, Great Wine Buys, $28

Lingua Franca 2017 Avni Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Winemaker Thomas Savre’s gentle farming and vinification (25 percent whole-cluster fermentation) are evident in the silky texture. Notes of fresh black plum, red cherry, rose petals, wet stone, and smoke. This pinot has confidence, layers. I could sit with it all evening, like a good book. Buy Liner & Elsen, The Portland Bottle Shop, $35

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