Oregon Strikes Gold with 2016 Pinot Noirs

Vintage continues an impressive winning streak for the state
Oregon Strikes Gold with 2016 Pinot Noirs
Beaux Frères is among the wineries that has produced excellent 2016 Pinot Noir. (Carey Critchlow)
Aug 8, 2018

It's been quite a ride covering Oregon the past two years. When you're in Willamette Valley, the sense of discovery and adventure is palpable, and you can taste it in the wines.

This reminds me of Sonoma County when I moved there 30 years ago—that feeling that a wine region is finally getting the wider attention it deserves. A series of excellent vintages in Willamette Valley has helped.

The 2014 and 2015 vintages were warm by old-school Oregon standards. While top producers were able to mitigate the impact of the heat, these Pinot Noirs are generally on the riper side, falling somewhere between the structured, savory flavors typical of Oregon and the bold fruit of California. (Read my tasting report in the March 31 issue for more details.)

The 2016 vintage also brought plenty of heat, but pockets of cool weather during the summer tempered the grapes' ripeness, at least compared to the previous two vintages. I've tasted a sufficient number of 2016 Willamette Pinots to know they are generally polished and sleek, so easy to drink on their own, yet with enough fresh acidity to sing with food.

For those who prefer the classic style of Willamette Valley Pinots—light on their feet, with red fruit flavors and lively acidity—you'll find more such examples among the 2016s than in the two previous vintages.

Quality appears high across the board so it's hard to say at this early date which appellation within Willamette had the most success, although Eola-Amity Hills and Yamhill-Carlton look promising.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I review several impressive new projects in Willamette and revisit the wines of veteran producers who are giving those upstarts a run for their Pinot. WineSpectator.com subscribers can check out my reviews of the 2016s so far; this list will continue to expand in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, continue to enjoy the 2014s and 2015s now on the shelves, but leave room in the cellar for the spirited 2016s. It's a good time to love Oregon Pinot Noir.

United States Oregon Red Wines Pinot Noir 2016 News

You Might Also Like

Bordeaux Court Convicts Wine Merchant of Fraud

Bordeaux Court Convicts Wine Merchant of Fraud

Vincent Lataste faces six months in prison for illegally mislabeling and mixing wines; he …

Jun 14, 2019
First-Growths Arrive: 2018 Bordeaux Wine Futures Prices and Analysis

First-Growths Arrive: 2018 Bordeaux Wine Futures Prices and Analysis

Lafite has released its 2018 futures. Will the price be tempting enough for consumers?

Apr 23, 2019
Coffee No Longer Requires Cancer Warning in California

Coffee No Longer Requires Cancer Warning in California

The state's health-risk assessment agency concludes that chemicals in coffee do not pose a …

Jun 11, 2019
Surprise Late Donation Helps Destin Charity Wine Auction Raise $3.6 Million

Surprise Late Donation Helps Destin Charity Wine Auction Raise $3.6 Million

With the aid of a last-minute $1 million donation, the 14th-annual Florida Panhandle event …

Jun 11, 2019
A Piece of Paris Opens in San Diego Bay—See What's on the Menu

A Piece of Paris Opens in San Diego Bay—See What's on the Menu

Little Frenchie is Blue Bridge Hospitality's newest venture in California. Plus, chef Tim …

Jun 6, 2019
Trade War Is Hurting U.S. Wineries

Trade War Is Hurting U.S. Wineries

As the Trump administration fights over trade with China, Mexico and the E.U., winemakers …

Jun 5, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search