6 soulful Oregon wines to try

Recommendations

★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be obtainable at additional stores. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

J. Christopher and St. Innocent produce some of Oregon’s most soulful wines. We are fortunate to be able to find several in this market, though the winemakers do favor restaurants.

J. Christopher Dundee Hills Cuvée Pinot Noir 2011

★★★

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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Willamette Valley, Ore., $40

There’s an impressive intensity to this wine. It is beautifully perfumed, with high-toned red-fruit aromas and flavors plus a hint of grapefruit zest. It has a verve and focus that many New World wines lack. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; on the list at the Inn at Little Washington, Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.

St. Innocent Pinot Noir Temperance Hill Vineyard 2011

★★★

Willamette Valley, Ore., $37

Mark Vlossak calls this wine “the purest of all the pinots I make.” It is indeed delicious, with red-fruit flavors tinged with brambles and smoke, and tight structure that suggests the wine will age well for several years. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s; on the list at Equinox, Source by Wolfgang Puck. On the list in Maryland at Sushiko in Chevy Chase.

St. Innocent Pinot Noir Villages Cuvée 2011

★★

Willamette Valley, Ore., $27

“I wanted to make a Beaune Villages, a pinot noir that isn’t aggressive, doesn’t have a lot of oak or a lot of fruit,” Vlossak told me. He succeeded with this savory delight. It seems strange to call this a “basic” pinot; rather, it’s pinot in the hands of a skilled winemaker able to craft a regional expression out of grapes from younger vines. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, D’Vines, DeVino’s, Rodman’s; on the list at Baby Whale, Bistro Français, Blue Duck Tavern, Posto. Available in Maryland at Food, Wine & Co. and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, I.M. Wine in Fulton; on the list at Redwood in Bethesda.

J. Christopher Pinot Noir 2011

★★★

Willamette Valley, Ore., $30

This is vintner Jay Somers’s blend of grapes from different areas around the Willamette Valley, given a regional rather than vineyard expression. It’s fruitier than his terroir series but no less serious. A top-notch pinot. ABV: 13 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s; on the list at Firefly, Rasika (Penn Quarter), Woodward Table. Available in Maryland at Hops & Vines in Odenton. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Wine House in Fairfax; on the list at Jackson 20 in Alexandria.

J. Christopher Sauvignon Blanc 2012

★★1 / 2

Willamette Valley, Ore., $26

Sauvignon blanc from Oregon? Yes, and this wine might help persuade others to plant more. Only a handful of Oregon winemakers tinker with this grape; I wish more would. ABV: 13 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Rodman’s; on the list at Rasika (Penn Quarter). Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, WineStyles in Dumfries; on the list at Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria.

St. Innocent Chardonnay Freedom Hill 2011

★★1 / 2

Willamette Valley, Ore. $28

Oregon is best known for its pinot noir, but its chardonnays have consistently improved in quality over the past few years as vintners figure out which sites are best for chardonnay and which clones of the grape work best. This delicious chardonnay has been featured recently in several Washington area restaurants. ABV: 13 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Rodman’s; on the list at Bistro Bis, Black Salt, Blue Duck Tavern, Nopa Kitchen, Posto, Woodward Table.

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