For more than a half-century, Oregon has hung its hat on Pinot Noir. The noble red grape of Burgundy found a comfortable home on the edge of viticultural viability in the Willamette Valley when a few hardy pioneers decided to try putting grapes in the ground.
It is here, where a low coastal range is all that separates the vineyards from the Pacific Ocean, that Pinot Noir would tend to do well.
It doesn’t really thrive here. In fact, those serious about Oregon Pinot Noir never want it to thrive. They want a struggle that will ultimately bring the best out of Pinot Noir’s finicky grapes.
Oregon Pinot Noirs are not big, fleshy, showy wines like you might find in other regions. Rather, they are much more interesting than that, with great depth and complexity.
Here are a dozen Oregon Pinot Noirs we’ve tasted in recent weeks.