I had a lot of good wines in Oregon, but here are five producers whose wines I particularly loved. (Honorable mention to Brick House Vineyards for its Pinot and Gamay.)
Co-owner Mike Etzel makes extraordinarily full-bodied and intense Pinot Noirs that still manage to be graceful and nuanced. The Beaux Frères Vineyard bottling is the wine everyone wants (though it’s pricey by Oregon standards—about $80).
Véronique Drouhin was the first winemaker here, and these wines, elegant and feminine, reflect her touch. The 2004 Laurène bottling is particularly polished, and the regular Willamette Valley bottling ($45) is a good deal.
Some of the wines are too oaky for my taste, but Tony Rynders has a true feel for the grape, and his 2002 Grace Vineyard Pinot is simply gorgeous. The 2005 ($125) is also excellent—so much so that I can only imagine how good the 2006 will be.
I’ve been a fan of Tony Soter’s Napa Cabs for years, and more recently, of his Beacon Hill Pinots. Soter is already producing some promising wines from his new Mineral Springs Vineyard, starting with 2006 ($60).
Mark Vlossak probably drinks more Burgundy than he does Oregon Pinot Noir, and his wines reflect his preference. His 2006 wines are excellent—lush and ripe—though I am also keen on the finely etched 2005 and 2006 White Rose and Temperance Hill bottlings.