Only 90 points or higher for these newly reviewed reds from Willamette Valley
By Aaron Romano
September 23, 2019
Willamette Valley’s mild growing seasons and array of volcanic soils and ancient seabeds make it an ideal spot for Pinot Noir. Oregon’s premier region spans nearly 3.5 million acres in the northwest of state, boasting more than 23,000 acres of vineyards, with Pinot Noir leading the way at just shy of 16,000.
Finding one of today’s picks shouldn’t be a challenge, as most are made in sizable volumes. While Oregon Pinot can have a relatively high average price-point, there is solid value here, with all clocking in at $36 or less.
All but two are from the 2017 vintage, which is starting to dominate the market. The vintage looks promising, but it diverged from previous years in terms of weather (2014, 2015 and 2016 all rated classic for the overall vintage). The 2017 spring was wet and cool, and the summer hot and dry. Yields were up, which can often translate to blowsy wines, but these versions found their footing, retaining complexity and finesse.
92 pts Maison L’Envoye Two Messengers Pinot Noir 2017
Plump and polished, showing a lively structure, with floral raspberry and sassafras flavors that pick up speed toward fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2024. 3,000 cases made.