Think of Oregon as America's Burgundy. The Willamette Valley, Oregon's most famous winegrowing region, roughly shares a latitudethe 45th parallel northwith the famed grand cru and premier cru vineyards of the French region. Thanks to its similarly cool climate and long growing season, Oregon has proven to be a perfect home for the Burgundian grape varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And the 2005 and 2006 vintages, both currently available in wine shops, are considered among the best Oregon has ever had.
The small 2005 harvest produced elegant Pinots with refined fruit and incredible depth. The 2006s show a different style: They're brighter and more lively, with juicy berry flavors. Both of these vintages were also terrific for whites from around the state. Here are five top bottlings:
2006 A to Z Wineworks Oregon Chardonnay ($16)
Made with grapes from vines that originated in Burgundy's Dijon region, this affordable Chardonnay is aged entirely in stainless steel, allowing its fresh green apple flavor and crisp minerality to shine through.