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Oregon tasting notes

text and photographs © 2009 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Oregon wine.


A to Z Pinot Blanc 2007
Remarkably aromatic, with peach down and floral notes. The palate has nice body and a certain weight and breadth. Good fruit, with a tang of orangy acidity. Drinks very well, with good length.

Rex Hill Pinot Gris 2006
Big, ripe nose, with a certain fatness and richness. There is a little more residual sugar, and finishes with a soft, pear and even a hint of strawberry to the fruit. $16. 87/100

A to Z Pinot Gris 2007
Lovely lemon zest note to the nose, with a touch of cream and has a fairly decisive palate. There's a clean, crisp, linear focus to this. Good length and vibrancy. $12. 86/100

A to Z Chardonnay 2006
"Oregon Chardonnay is the biggest story in the United States today," says Deb Hatcher, describing how many people are watching its cool-climate potential. Slightly dumb, but has nice clean, crisp fruit on the palate. There's a touch of residual sugar here that - for me - doesn't sit entirely happily. 84//100

Rex Hill Chardonnay 2006
Nice soft nose, with a suggestion of tropical and lychee to nicely creamy, lightly toasty nose. The palate has good acids and a clean, pure focus. Quite a big wine, but has a nice balance and raciness. 86/100

Rex Hill William Hatcher Chardonnay 2005
Small batch, one-off wine with a nicely aromatic nose, with all sorts of exotic notes, from lychee and pepper to Sandalwood and nectarine skin. Good palate too, with length and precision. 89/100

A to Z Oregon Riesling 2007
From 25-year-old vines, some of the oldest in Oregon. Lovely Riesling nose: expressive lemon sherbet and talcum notes, with a shimmering acidity and lovely finesse. 89/100

A - Z Oregon Rosé wine 2007
Two days cold soaked Sangiovese from the southern Rogue Valley, which is made as a rose and not a bleed-off of a red wine. Really aromatic, filled with wild strawberry and raspberry, and even lavender. Juicy fruit, with lovely full-bodied weight. A nice wine this. 87/100

A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir 2006
There is a spice and cedar note here to bold, ripe red fruit. The palate has good fruit and a bit of heft, with chunky tannins and a liquoricy edge. 87/100

Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2006
Very nice spice and tobacco nose, with a touch of Bay leaf and caraway. The palate has deliciously ripe fruit, with a nice stripe of acidity like cherry skins that keeps this fresh. Sweet fruit and finesse here. 88/100

Rex Hill Dundee Hills Willamette Pinot Noir 2006
Intriguing hints of cerise and red liquorice, with plenty of cherry and red berries. On the palate has a liquoricy intensity, with a dark, plummy note, but all quite intense with the smokiness of the oak and just a little alcoholic heat coming through. 88/100

Rex Hill Sims Vineyard Willamette Pinot Noir 2006
Also from the Dundee Hills, from a top vineyard vinified separately as a special cuvee. Big, seductive Pinot nose, with very intense minerality and plenty of briar. Fine fruit on the palate, with really ripe and rich core, the tannins and acids giving nice tension. $28. 89/100

Rex Hill Jacob Hart Vineyard Willamette Pinot Noir 2006
Another fine nose, with lots of spice and briar, and fine sweetness of fruit. Delicious wine with lots of depth that becomes suede-like and rich in texture, with a smoky depth. $45. 91/100

Rex Hill William Hatcher Willamette Pinot Noir 2005
Around 400 cases only of this wine, where the fruit carries plentiful oak nicely, and there's a certain plushness and velvety ripeness of fruit, and a shiny, glossy quality. The wine is composed and svelte, with a touch of cherry skin and vital acidity enlivening the finish. 92/100

Francis Tannahill Oregon The Hermit 2005
From the Tannahill's biodynamic vineyard, there is a svelte, ripe, richness her too. The palate has lovely nutty richness but that same sense of composure and fruit forward purity of this vintage. Lots of energy and vibrancy. $45 dollars. 91/100

Francis Tannahill Mason Dixon Oregon Syrah 2005
Nice touches of leather and pepper, with a palate that has a slightly harsh edge perhaps, with very firm tannins though there is juicy fruit and a savoury mouthfeel. 89/100

A - Z Night and Day Red Wine 2005
A blend with all sorts of things in it from Sangiovese and Nebbiolo to Syrah, that changes slightly each year. Very bright, fruity, blackcurrant aromatics. The fruit seems very ripe and sweet. The palate has a fantastic sweetness and a broad, nicely balanced finish. A delightful everyday red. 87/100

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