Prepared by Sally Murdoch, OWB Communications Manager
The highly anticipated Oregon Report for the 2017 vintage was published in The Wine Advocate April 23, 2020, and promising scores continue to pave the way for our region. In fact, the 2017 vintage produced the highest proportion of 90+ scores to date from reviewer Erin Brooks, who visited Oregon in July 2019 for the 2019 International Pinot Noir Celebration, tasted through more than 800 wines at Linfield College and made winery visits over her three-week stay. While there were fewer wines reviewed this year—801 compared to 1,121 the year prior—the wines performed well in the 90+ realm, with 63% of the wines submitted receiving 90+ scores. This is 10% higher than the year before, when 53% of wines were awarded 90+ scores. Only two vintages ago, in 2015, this number was almost 20% less, with 42% of Oregon wines submitted receiving 90+ scores.
Bear in mind that Oregon is responsible for around 1.5% of the U.S. production of wine, and these high scores really show Oregon’s focus on wine quality vs. quantity.
Erin pointed out the challenges winemakers had in 2017, including unprecedented heat spikes and wildfires searing through parts of the state. “Despite the various challenges, high yields from a wet winter and outstanding fruit set had the biggest impact on quality this year…” she writes. “The good news is that those who successfully met the challenges of the vintage have produced some outstanding wines. Careful attention to crop load and thinning was vital for success in 2017.”
While Erin’s focus was on two varieties in the 2017 vintage, she accepted all varieties winemakers submitted. Pinot noir continued to shine with 531 reviewed and 345 (65%) were rated 90+. “Pinot noirs this year are red-fruited and crunchy, delicately nuanced with loads of floral, spice and amaro-like aromas and flavors.” she writes. “The best Chardonnays this vintage are world-class, bright and elegant, textured without being weighty, with fresh orchard fruit profiles and tangy acidity. Both grapes performed equally well in 2017—the best wines are elegant, balanced, subtle and nuanced…”
This year, the highest score goes to 00 Wines for their 2017 Pinot Noir Richard Hermann Cuvée. In fact, 00 Wines got six of the top 20 wines listed in this report.
A strong showing for Chardonnay continued this year with 137 reviewed (last year 129 were reviewed) and 111 of these (81%) were rated 90+. Similarly, six Gamay wines were reviewed with five of these netting 90+. Last year only 27% were rated 90+, with Brick House and Evening Land leading the way.
New varieties emerged in the 90+ scores, including a Caprettone from Belle Fiore in the Rogue Valley. The Eyrie Vineyards had a Melon de Bourgogne and a Muscat Ottonel achieving 92 and 90, respectively. A 2015 Tannat from Troon Vineyard in the Applegate Valley scored a 90, and the 2018 Tocai Friulano, Trovato Vineyard pulled in a 91 for Furioso.
As for regions, leading the charge is the Willamette Valley, with 472 wines rated 90+ out of 705 Willamette Valley wines reviewed. The highest concentration of these is in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, with 89% of wines submitted netting 90+ (39 out of 44). The Van Duzer Corridor AVA made its first appearance with Suzor Chardonnay The Sunflower netting a score of 90. The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater had three wines submitted from Laelaps and Watermill, with the 2016 Laelaps Cabernet Sauvignon Seven Hills Vineyards netting a 90. The Applegate Valley had some good showings this year, with six wines from that region netting a 90+. The Gorge had a better showing this year than last, with two wines rated 90+, both from Stave and Stone.
This year’s standouts for Erin were:
2017 00 Wines Pinot Noir Richard Hermann Cuvée 97
2017 Bethel Heights Chardonnay The High Wire 96+
2016 Domaine Serene Chardonnay Recolte Grand Cru 96+
2017 00 Wines Chardonnay Chehalem Mountain 96
2017 Arterberry Maresh Chardonnay Maresh Vineyard 96
Additionally, she wrote: There are some incredibly beautiful wines to be found this vintage, and these are the labels I’ll be looking to stock my cellar with.
- 00 Wines
- Arterberry Maresh
- Ayres Vineyard
- Beaux Frères
- Bethel Heights
- Brick House
- Brittan Vineyards
- Domaine Drouhin Oregon / Roserock Drouhin Oregon
- Domaine Roy & Fils
- Evening Land
- Furioso Vineyards
- Goodfellow Family Cellars
- Gran Moraine
- Lingua Franca
- Morgen Long
- Purple Hands
- Walter Scott
- Willakenzie Estate