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Oregon Pinot Noirs for (a Little) Less

The Oregon wine industry, which I write about in my column today, leads the way in the United States in sustainable, organic and biodynamic viticulture. There is a state certification for sustainable viticulture and a regional group called LIVE -- that's Low Input Viticulture and Enology -- that stresses environmentally friendly practices in the vineyard and in the winery. LIVE works with the Salmon Safe certification that monitors wineries for practices that protect fisheries, and the IOBC, the International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control of Noxious Animals and Plants. (Whew -- that's a mouthful!)

This environmental consciousness is to be applauded, for it stands to reason that healthier land will produce healthier grapes and better wine. No one can prove that yet, and any honest winemaker will admit that bad wine can be made from great grapes, and no great wine can be made from bad grapes. So maybe land wins out over hand, after all.

Price, of course, is always a factor. Oregon has positioned itself in the $35-$55 range for fine wines, and is beginning to feel the pinch of the recession, as luxury wines from other regions such as Napa Valley experience steep price cuts. Oregon pinot noir has not yet responded to this pressure, though Ted Casteel of Bethel Heights said his winery will be increasing production of its regular cuvee and de-emphasizing its top wines with the 2009 harvest.

The wines I featured in my column today are on the more expensive side, but there are more to be experienced at a lower price point. Even without the economic climate making its presence felt (yet) on the price of Oregon pinot noir, there are several that provide good value at $25 or less. Here are a few worth seeking out:

A to Z Pinot Noir 2007, Oregon, $20

Anne Amie Cuvee A Pinot Noir 2007
, Willamette Valley, $25

Benton Lane Pinot Noir 2007, Willamette Valley, $25

Firesteed Pinot Noir 2007, Oregon, $18

Do you have favorite Oregon pinots? Now's your chance to tell me -- and the rest of the blogosphere -- about them.

-- Dave McIntyre

By The Food Section  |  August 12, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags: Dave McIntyre, wine  
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Been a dedicated Oregon Pinot Noir drinker for many years. Cameron Winery in the Dundee Hills consistently makes elegant, balanced Pinot Noir. John Paul is the winemaker and he typically makes 6 different pinots in a year. Price points are $17 to $50 - retail in Oregon. His entry level wines are great value wines. His '07 Dundee Hills P.N.($22 -$25) is my current favorite - great nose of red berries, sweet tannins, good acidity, bright red fruit on the taste, 12.5% alcohol. Difficult to find locally but several wine shops in Portland will ship to Virginia or DC.

Posted by: dickg | August 12, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Patricia Green at her eponymous cellar makes some fantastic Pinot Noirs. We enjoyed Archery Summit's as well. Both easy enough to find around town.

Posted by: SRockville | August 12, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

My introduction to pinot noirs was a bottle from the Sokol Blosser vineyard that my sister had gotten in a secret Santa swap. She did not drink wine so I laid claim to it. Such bliss, but at $40+ a bottle, it's not something I can afford on a regular basis. Nor is it easy to find, but my local liquor store is more than happy to order it for me.

Posted by: eastportgal | August 12, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of Oregon Pinot Noir, though it's usually a bit rich for my budget. Elk Cove and Rusack are two of my favorites.

I toddled into my local wine shop tonight (Unwined in Alexandria) and there were a few bottles on the counter. Unusual for a Wednesday. Turns out the distributor is having an inventory reduction sale.

Rusack was one of them and available at $18/bottle. For those who know, that's an incredible price. I picked up half a case and paired it with a half case of a Napa Syrah (Definitive). If they have any of the Rusack let, run, don't walk over there!


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 12, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I suppose my previous post cheated, as Rusack is from Santa Barbara, CA. I've had the Archery Summit as well--great wine, but hard on the budget.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 12, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

There's never enough time to sample when I'm back home in Portland, but Cooper Mountain is one of my favorites.

Posted by: ColleenFoodieTots | August 13, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

These are all very good, and I've been to many of the wineries in Oregon (you should go if you get the chance, the wines are terrific and the scenery sublime -- from Torri Mor winery you can see two volcanoes, Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, on a clear day! Delicious wines, too). Easy to get to as well, the vineyards start just south of Portland.

Argyle is another of my faves, and it can often be found in DC around $25. They also make delicious sparkling wines if you can find them.

I think Pearson's in Georgetown/Glover Park may have the best Oregon Pinot selection, other stores in DC seem to be hit or miss. Pearson's had a luscious American Winetasters Society Oregon Pinot about a month or so ago for $17, also a California (Sonoma, Carneros or Russian River I think) for $15, both were terrific, especially for the price.

Posted by: DefendDissent | August 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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