Based in Hong Kong, James Suckling is arguably one of the world’s most renowned wine personalities. Earlier this year, the Oregon Wine Board worked with the editorial team at JamesSuckling.com to collect and ship three pallets of Oregon wines overseas. For this latest JamesSuckling.com Oregon report, published late August 2021, the tasting panel uncorked 806 bottles from twelve AVAs across the state. An incredible 93% of wines reviewed by James himself and his team of tasters, including Associate Editor Claire Nesbitt and Nick Stock from his home base in Australia, received 90 points or higher, up 3% from the publication’s last Oregon report in 2020.
Editors found even more to love in Oregon Chardonnay in this year’s review. Nesbitt writes, “Chardonnay comprised only 17 percent of our tastings, compared with two-thirds pinot noir, but out of our top 30 wines, 11 were Chardonnay – more than double the average proportion.”
00 Wines saw the highest score for Chardonnay, securing 98 points and the #3 position on the list for the 2018 Freya Hermann Cuvée. Antica Terra, Bergström Wines, and Domaine Serene additionally produced Chardonnays that landed among the top 30.
While the majority of the wines submitted were from the Willamette Valley, multiple wines from Southern Oregon scored 90 points or above. From the Applegate Valley, Troon Vineyard’s Côtes du Kubli (a Rhône blend) scored 93 points; a Grüner veltliner from Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards in the Umpqua Valley scored 92 points; a Tempranillo from Foris Wine in the Rogue Valley scored 92 points.
The report also saw the winemaking talents spotlighted of some newcomers to the Oregon report, including Ermisch Cellars (Ribbon Ridge), Benza Vineyards (Chehalem Mountains), and L. Donovan Wines (Rogue Valley). L Donovan is fronted by Linda Donovan, who came to Southern Oregon in 2000 to grow grapes and consult with many emerging wineries. Donovan is part-owner of custom-crusher Pallet Wine Company, where she oversees winemaking for 20+ different clients.
- Pinot noir submissions dominated the report once again, representing 66%, or 535 of the 806 wines reviewed.
- Two Oregon Pinot noirs received the highest Oregon Suckling scores to date – 99 points – for the 2018 Antikythera from Antica Terra and the 2018 Jessie Vineyard from Cristom Vineyards.
- New varieties diversified the report, including Tempranillo, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, and others
- Ribbon Ridge and McMinnville AVAs tied for the highest performing sub-regions – 100% of wines submitted from both regions scored 90 points or higher.
- Columbia Gorge wine submissions doubled since the last report, maintaining the highest score for the region at 93 points, awarded to Phelps Creek Vineyards’ 2019 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir.