March 23, 2011

A Couple of 2007 Pinot Noirs from Oregon

I don't drink a lot of Oregon Pinot Noir. However, I'm starting to think maybe I should. The 2007 vintage in Oregon is a somewhat maligned vintage; many professional rags and amateur wine lovers alike were not very fond of 2007 from the start. There was a lot of rain right around harvest time requiring skilled winemakers to prevent wines that were too light or washed out. I recently had the opportunity to try several 2007 Oregon Pinots and figured I'd post on a couple...notes on several others will follow.
The 2007 Harmonia is a beautiful pinot made by winemaker-ownder Michael Beckely. This wine is a tremendous value for pinot coming in at around $18. The wine shows a skillful touch from a winemaker in tune with restraint and power without weight. Matt Kramer from Wine Spectator had some high praise for this wine in saying "In addition to exceptional quality, here's the clincher: price. To find an Oregon pinot noir that limbos under the $20 bar is rare enough. To find an Oregon pinot noir this good at just $18 is nothing less than unheard of." This was indeed a delicious and interesting wine that I'd like to drink again.
The other bottle I opened was the 2007 Eyrie Vineyards. Eyrie has a long history of producing world class Pinot Noir from Oregon's Wilamette Valley; Eyrie was, in fact, the first winery to plant Pinot Noir in Oregon back in the 60s. This 2007 was not quite in the same league as the Harmonia for me. It lacked any real personality, and of the 2007s I've opened recently, it showed most like a wine produced in a tough rain-soaked vintage. There was nothing obviously wrong with the wine, and there are probably worse ways to spend $25, it just didn't move me this time.


  1. damn, I made an awesome comment here last night, and it didn't stick.

    Was saying I'm curious if Burgundy enthusiasts dismiss Oregon PN by proxy, often because the Oregon winemakers (ad nauseam) describe their PNs as "Burgundian"...

    Or something to that effect. The first comment was way better.

  2. Obviously not. Burgundians, and fans of Burgundy, have been following Oregon for a long time. Case in point: Maison Joseph Drouhin's substantial investment in the area a number of years ago, with Veronique Drouhin making wine there. Parker has been pushing Oregon wines as burgundian in character since the early 90's.

  3. Anonymous fellow,

    No doubt about Drouhin, Sólena (French winemaker), etc. They've seen something there. And compared to Russian River, Carneros, Santa Barbara fruit, etc., the PN of Oregon does tend to be lighter-bodied, more elegant, and food-friendly. I also get that RMP has had affinity for the style. I recall my father raving about Dick Erath's efforts back in the 90's.

    What I was getting at: Burgundy is Burgundy and Oregon is Oregon. They are not one-in-the-same. I know a lot of Burgundy-loyalists who do not like Oregon wines. They argue that so many (not all) Oregon winemakers call their wines "Burgundian", yet a fierce defender of terroir would say they are not "Burgundian". Perhaps these folks avoid Oregon on principle alone...

  4. Nice debate folks. Thanks for the comments. I've always thought that the Pinot Noir coming out of Oregon would satisfy Burgheads. Stylistically, at least. I find that they are lighter, and often more Joe said. I think we've touched on how problematic it can be to compare one region to another...though, we all do it, all the time...Thanks guys....

    Oh yeah, 'nother point...Jean Marie Fourier claims to have a lot about making wine from his time spent at Drouhin in Oregon...

  5. such great vine for such low price?? something wrong, don't you think??