★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be available at additional stores. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Here are just a few of my favorite wines from the recent Pinot in the City tasting sponsored by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. Ask your retailer or sommelier for suggestions about other Oregon wines from the 2011 and 2012 vintages.
Wineries I recommend from the tasting include Adelsheim, Antica Terra, Bergstrom, Coeur de Terre, Chehalem, Dukes, Dusky Goose, Penner-Ash, Ponzi, Shea and Sokol-Blosser. And remember the valley’s unofficial slogan: “Willamette. Rhymes with Dammit.”
★ ★ ★
Willamette Valley, Oregon, $30
“I’m on the high end of the acid spectrum for Willamette Valley,” winemaker Jim Prosser told me. His wines do walk a high wire, delicately balanced and seemingly driven by adrenaline as much as fruit. His 2011 Vespidae Pinot Noir is worth seeking out as well. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Roanoke Valley: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Pearson’s; on the list at BlackSalt, Menu, Ripple, Table.
★ ★ ★
Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $18
An amazing pinot gris. It’s from the same grape as the refreshing wines of Italy’s pinot grigio and the richer pinot gris from Alsace, but Oregon has created its own style. This is racy and vibrant and simply exciting. Jason Lett is justifiably proud of the age-worthy wines he and his late father, David Lett, who planted Willamette’s first pinot noir vines in 1965, have created, but this one is almost too good to wait for. Lett was also pouring an excellent 2012 Pinot Blanc from Dundee Hills ($20) and a lovely 2012 Willamette Valley pinot noir ($38). ABV: 12.5 percent.
Nice Legs: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase; on the list at Bistro Bis; Corduroy; Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab; Sushi Taro. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese and Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington, Ashburn Wine Shop, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Bazin’s on Church in Vienna.
★ ★ ★
Willamette Valley, Oregon, $32
Laurent Montalieu is one of Willamette’s leading winemakers specializing in biodynamic viticulture. This is his Willamette Valley blend; he was also pouring a 2011 Domaine Danielle Laurent pinot noir from the Yamhill-Carlton district that was racy and fresh, and a gorgeous 2013 pinot gris. ABV: 13.7 percent.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s; on the list at Baby Wale, Nora. Available in Virginia at Society Fair in Alexandria, Wine House in Fairfax.
★ ★ 1 / 2
Willamette Valley, Oregon, $25
Wait a minute. Sauvignon blanc from Oregon? Yes, and it’s top-notch, featuring the gooseberry and grapefruit flavors of the grape, with firm acidity and structure. This is more than a novelty: It’s delicious. Made from organic fruit. ABV: 14.1 percent.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverage, Rodman’s; on the list at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Dawson’s in Severna Park. Available in Virginia at Society Fair in Alexandria; on the list at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.
Willamette Valley, Oregon, $23
New to the Washington market, this pinot gris is more Alsatian in style than the Eyrie, meaning that it is richer in mouth feel and softer in acidity, with flavors of bruised apple and pear. Boedecker’s pinot noirs also are recommended. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Elite: On the list at BlackSalt in the District. Available in Maryland at Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold.