What to drink this week

Ore­gon Pinot Noir

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

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.

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