What to drink this week
Oregon Pinot Noir
You might not hear much about them, but these wines have real finesse, counsels Harry Eyres
Oregon flies under the radar. The easy-going state to the north of California has been producing some really excellent wines, especially Pinot Noir, for decades, but its inhabitants tend not to be pushy types and their wines are less well known than those of their neighbours to the south. Oregon Pinot Noir hasn’t experienced the vogue that the best New Zealand and especially Central Otago Pinots have been enjoying recently, either, but there are some great discoveries to be made.
Why you should be drinking them
Oregon’s climate is more fickle than Burgundy’s: the main vineyard areas are quite close to the cold Pacific and rain at vintage time is not uncommon. As one vintner, who’d travelled over for the big Oregon and Washington State tasting held in London in March, told me: ‘There’s no such thing as a typical Oregon vintage.’ The positive side of this is the finesse that comes from a cooler climate than that of California.
What to drink
The canny Drouhin family from Burgundy invested in Oregon in the 1980s and Burgundian know-how shows through in the 2014 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir (£27; www.htfwines.co.uk) —fresh and open, it’s held together by firm structure. Longer and more complex is the Eyrie Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir (right, £34.50; www.thevinorium.co.uk): still quite closed on the nose and more earthy than fruity, this builds in the mouth towards a satisfying, ripe finish. Cristom Vineyards has impressed me since it started in the 1990s: the 2014 Mount Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir (£31.99; www. houseoftownend.com) has real minerally substance and is a lovely wine.