For this year’s annual blind tasting of Oregon’s wide world of wine, we rallied 13 of our favorite grape-stained wretches to uncork more than a thousand bottles.
1. TYEE WINE CELLARS
2012 Estate Pinot Noir
99 This bright, balanced bottle from winemaker Merrilee Buchanan Benson melds classic pinot noir fruit flavors of cherries and cranberries with an herbaceous backbone of eucalyptus and tea tree. The family-owned and -operated label has maintained a commitment to small-batch quality wines and sustainability for more than 29 years, using 100 percent solar power at the winery and managing its own certified Salmon Safe estate vineyards side by side with wetland and woodland habitats. Visitors to Tyee’s Corvallis farm and tasting room can explore the estate’s nature trails and hazelnut orchards, catch outdoor concerts, dive into the family history of the land (dating back to 1885) and, of course, taste the estate’s wines.
“Two years ago, when this bottle appeared in Portland Monthly’s Top 50, it was one of my favorites. What wonderful things are happening down there? I’m so impressed by its balance, earthiness, and structure. It is the real epitome of what good pinot noir should taste like: elegant complexity that unveils its layers like a beautiful peacock.”—Savanna Ray (manager, RingSide Fish House)