Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Portland Magazine's Top 50 Oregon Wines - 2014: Small (Lot) is Beautiful?

Five organically grown wines made Portland Monthly Magazine's annual ranking of Oregon's Top 50 Wines this year including a surprising choice in the top organic spot. The tiny Croft Vineyards Pinot Noir, only 180 cases made, took 4th place overall with a 98.5 point score.

This microwinery produced only 300 cases of wine last year. (This year it's ramping up to a whopping 500 cases). Located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA in Polk County, west of I-5, Croft Vineyards grows grapes, mostly sold to other vintners. (King Estate and Spindrift Cellars each make award-winning single vineyard Pinots from Croft). Croft has two vineyard properties with 50+ acres in vine.

Next year's vintage is already hitting the shelves - and production has doubled - to 350 cases. The price remains the same - just $35.

“I know Croft for its great sauvignon blanc, but I think we were all floored when this wine was unveiled. It displayed those classic cool vintage Oregon characteristics, making it immediately charming but with potential to improve over the next five years." said judge Michael Garofola (general manager at Accanto in Portland), quoted in Portland Monthly.

Riesling and Pinot Noir producer Brooks Wines had two winning wines in the top 50, including its 2011 Temperance Hill Pinot Noir ($48) which got 97.5 points. Temperance Hill, perhaps Oregon's greatest Pinot Noir vineyard, regularly produces top wines, as does Brooks.

Ribbon Ridge Pinot producer Brick House almost always has a wine in the top 50 and this year was no exception. It's 2012 Cuvée du Tonnelier ($45), comprised of grapes from its oldest Pommard vines, took 21st place with a score of 97.3 points. Quoted in the magazine, judge and wine director Joel Gunderson said, “It’s pretty simple—you should drink Doug Tunnell’s wine as often as you have the opportunity. I think of his wines as being soft-spoken but incredibly opinionated (and I often agree with his opinion).”

A second wine grown by Croft Vineyards, Andrew Rich's 2013 Croft Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (390 cases made, $22/available for pre-order now), scored 96.74 with the judges, putting it #36 on the list.

Rounding out the organic winners was King Estate's 2012 Domaine Oregon Pinot Gris (921 cases made, $28), now sold out at the winery but available from at least one online merchant. King Estate has the largest contiguous organic vineyard in the country - with 470 acres in vine - but it makes only three wines solely from certified grapes. (One of the others is a single vineyard designate from Croft). The Domaine Oregon Pinot Gris is one.

The total cases made of all five of these wines combined is less than 2,000. Three of the wines were micro productions - 200 cases or less. Is this proof that small is beautiful? 

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