★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
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Oregon has had tremendous vintages, including the spectacular 2012s, so buy them when you can. That vintage had ideal weather, producing ripe and full wines that are beautiful to drink now.
The 2013s are also good, while 2014 and the current vintage are among the hottest that Oregon’s Willamette Valley have experienced. Chehalem Vineyards’ harvest began Sept. 2, more than three weeks earlier than normal, says Harry Peterson-Nedry, Chehalem’s founder and co-winemaker. “The 2014, and now 2015, has been a poster child for global climate change,” he adds.
Though those years may be even hotter than the very warm years of 2009, 2006 and 2004 sampled in his vertical tasting, Peterson-Nedry says the alcohol levels of the 2014 average just under 14 percent.
Here are Oregon wines you’ll want to try.
★ ★ ★
Willamette Valley, Ore., $35
Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Robins Cellars in Virginia: Available in the District at 1 West Dupont Circle Wine & Liquors, Circle Wine & Liquor, Modern Liquors, Rodman’s, Safeway (Georgetown), Whole Foods Market (P Street); on the list at Birch & Barley, Brasserie Beck, DC Coast, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Bourbon Steak, Lafayette at the Hay Adams, Rasika (Penn Quarter), the Source by Wolfgang Puck. Available in Maryland at Chesapeake Wine Co., Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore; Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Montgomery County Liquor Store (Potomac). On the list at Boatyard Bar & Grill in Annapolis, Jackie’s in Silver Spring, Lia’s in Chevy Chase.
★ ★ ★
Willamette Valley, Ore., $45
Here’s an exceptional pinot from another of my favorite Oregon producers. It’s quite ripe, rich and deep, with black-fruit flavors and some hints of earth. The alcohol is high — a factor of a ripe vintage — but this wine holds it well. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill; on the list at the Source by Wolfgang Puck. Available in Maryland at Calvert Wine & Spirits in Hunt Valley, Urban Cellars in Baltimore, Viniferous in Frederick.
★ ★ ★
Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Ore., $40
This is another Oregon producer worth seeking out; order direct from the winery or look for it on fine-restaurant wine lists. The Dundee Hills are at the heart of the Willamette Valley, on volcanic soils that give the wines structure while maintaining finesse. Winemaker Jay Somers makes a Willamette Valley bottling that is more widely available and also delicious. ABV: 13.8 percent.
Country Vintner: On the list in the District at Plume. Available in Virginia at Wine House in Fairfax; on the list at Clarity in Vienna.
★ ★ ★
Willamette Valley, Ore., $25
Oregon’s vintners are excited about their chardonnays, which have improved strikingly over the past few years, and their Rieslings, which are racy yet delicate, a nice contrast with other U.S. Rieslings. Yet pinot gris remains Oregon’s primary white wine, and Chehalem’s is one of the best. This one is racy and vibrant, with currant and raspberry flavors and an energizing acidity. You could drink it by itself, but that would almost be a shame. This wine wants salmon, ham or anything salty. ABV: 11.9 percent.
Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Robins Cellars in Virginia: Available in the District at Modern Liquors, Rodman’s, Safeway (Georgetown); on the list at Charlie Palmer Steak, Muze, the Source by Wolfgang Puck. Available in Maryland at Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Petit Louis Bistro and the Prime Rib in Baltimore, Republic in Takoma Park.
Siema: Available in the District at DCanter, Each Peach Market. Available in Maryland at Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Dunkirk Wine & Spirits; Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring; Fort Avenue Wine Market, Liquor Pump and Wine Source in Baltimore; Hair o’ the Dog in Easton; Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland; Kent Towne Liquors in Chester; Kings Contrivance Liquor Shop in Columbia; Pit Stop Beer & Wine in Berlin; Vineyard’s Elite in Pikesville. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria); D’Vine Wines in Winchester; Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Anthony’s and Grandale Farm in Purcellville, Screwtop Wine Bar in Arlington.