Oregon’s climate offers some incredible pinot noir. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few, but here’s a quick guide to get you started.
But before going any further, if you need absolutely any convincing that you should be drinking pinot noir, here it is: pinot noir is the healthiest type of wine you can drink. It beats all other reds (and whites and rosés). It has the highest level of resveratrol (an antioxidant compound) which has been shown to improve heart and brain health, and insulin sensitivity. Convinced?
Now that you’re an even bigger fan of this wine, if you come across an Oregon grown pinot noir, consider yourself especially in luck.
A Little Background on Oregon Wine
Oregon has 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVA) which essentially means you’re drinking top-notch, exquisite wine.
What makes Oregon unique is it offers pinot noir across all its regions, so you get different nuances depending on which area the pinot you’re drinking comes from. You’ve got warmer climate vineyards from southern and eastern Oregon; contrasted with the cooler, wetter climates like around the Columbia Gorge.
Burgundy, France may have the classic reference for this sultry grape, but Oregon certainly holds its own with a welcoming, overall inexpensive price tag.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2014, 14%
Here you get the best of both worlds. Joseph Drouhin, a Burgundy winemaker, established a vineyard in the Dundee Hills in 1987. The Dundee Hills is one of the AVAs and Mr. Drouhin has gone on to produce some of the top wine to come out of Oregon.
Domaine Drouhin’s endearing slogan “French soul, Oregon soil” hits the mark for the quality and impeccable experience you’ll have drinking this pinot noir. Cherry, plum, and red fruits dance with a whisper of spice and the ever-cherished long finish. What makes this particular wine even better is you can pop the cork right away, but it will also age very well should you be able to resist and keep for a later occasion.
Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2014, 14.2%
Another Domaine title, but this one hailing from the renowned Willamette Valley in a vineyard founded by Ken and Grace Evenstad.
This pinot noir is special and truly holds up to the rank of world-class wine. The deluge of dark fruit flavors is ripe and is harmoniously accompanied by a touch of sage and cocoa. An extraordinary combination resulting in what will likely be your new favorite pinot noir.
M&S Underwood Pinot Noir 2016, 13.5%
We’re happy to include a pinot that comes in at less than $10 a bottle but is no less enjoyable.
Underwood grapes are sources from Umpqua Valley in the southern part of Oregon. Think soft when you try this wine. Light tannins, soft fruit, and notes of pomegranate keep it balanced and smooth. Such characteristics make this wine an easy accompaniment to spicier, more aromatic foods or game meat dishes.
Resonance Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir 2013, 13.1%
French winemakers must have had a premonition about Oregon. Here we have another French native, Maison Louis Jadot, choosing the Pacific Northwest for his American venture outside of his homeland.
The Yamhill-Carlton region is just 40 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and its soil is enriched with marine sediment. This gives this single vineyard bottling a complex taste. You’ll get coffee, plum, and other soft fruits with a dry yet lusciously long finish.
This is another wine to be enjoyed now or left to age to an even more interesting experience a few years from now.
Firesteed Pinot Noir 2014, 13%
Can’t decide which region to try first? Firesteed offers you a pinot noir with grapes combined from the Rogue, Umpqua, Willamette, and Walla Walla valleys. This is a dynamic wine with soft and dark fruit flavors, with tones of chocolate and spice playing together followed by a lovely, long finish.
Twill Stormy Morning Pinot Noir 2014, 13.4%
If you’ve ever considered Oregon wine before, then you’ve likely heard of Twill. Darryl and Molly Roby are winemakers that seek to produce vintage and fresh wines from the best of what Oregon has to offer.
This pinot noir comes from the 10-acre, all organic, Stormy Mountain Vineyard. Stormy Mountain is just northwest of Yamhill-Carlton so it also profits from the ancient sedimentary marine soil. This wine is sophisticated but by no means boring. Layers of cherry, raspberry, and citrus overlay undertones of pomegranate, mushroom, and pine.
If the Pacific Northwest could be summed up in a flavor, this wine would be the favored contender.
Elk Cove Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2014, 13%
Willamette Valley, arguably the most noted region for Oregon wine, offers you a pinot noir from its oldest establishment, Elk Cove. Founders Joe and Pat Campbell, with help from their winemaker son, Adam, crafted this delightful blend from all 5 of their family’s vineyards.
This pinot has cherry and dark fruit flavors beautifully supported by subtle notes of violets and spice. This wine is smooth yet unmistakably tantalizing.
And There You Have It
No need to be surprised that an infamously wet state in Northwest America has cultivated some of the world’s best pinot noirs. The early pioneers of these valleys – along with some deep-rooted, old-world knowledge from France – knew that Oregon had potential for pinot noirs that could rival Burgundy.
Their efforts paid off and because of that, today you have the options we’ve mentioned and scores more to choose from for delectable, utterly pleasing pinot noir. And because we care about your health too, we say, ‘drink up!’