50+ wines reviewed below, including the latest from Adelsheim, Aubaine, Avennia, Baer, Foundry, Garageland, J. Christopher, Le Doubblé Troubblé, Love & Squalor, Lu & Oly, Lytle-Barnett, Nicolas-Jay, Planet Oregon, Renegade Wine Co., Soter, and VanArnam.
As I’ve written before, 2019 was a glorious vintage for Willamette Valley – one of the best of the last 20. The wines show a classic combination of intensity and freshness that has made the valley famous over the decades. Many of these wines were on the shelves some time ago, but some are still being released. It’s a vintage well worth seeking out if you’re a fan of the valley’s wines, Pinot Noir, or are just simply interested in seeing what all the fuss is about.
The 2021 wines from Willamette Valley provide an enjoyable contrast. It was a considerably warmer growing season, and in cases produced wines that are riper. Still, many producers were able to thread the needle and find freshness. Overall, it’s yet another high quality vintage for the valley.
Let’s be honest. While Chardonnay continues to command a sizable portion of the wine market, many wine consumers have a hard time caring about the variety. The reasons are easy to understand. There are oceans of mediocre Chardonnay that can be, at best, well-made but also innocuous and uninteresting.
That’s part of what makes Willamette Valley Chardonnay so exciting. The wines can come in a variety of styles, but there’s a consistent thread that connects them all. The wines have lively acidity that frames them and provides tension.
As I have said before, Willamette Valley Chardonnay is the most exciting thing happening in American wine right now. Forget what you think you know about Chardonnay. These wines are something different and are fully deserving of your attention.
I wrote recently how about sparkling wine production is growing in Washington, first talking about new varieties and appellations that wineries are exploring and also new production facilities. Willamette Valley, however, has a long history with sparklers and also a series of strong advantages producing these wines. Most notably, the two varieties that go into many of the world best sparkling wines – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – both excel in the valley.
A growing number of valley producers are looking to hang their hat not just on Pinot Noir but also on sparkling wines. As the wines below show, Willamette Valley sparkling wines have the ability to compete on the world stage.
Finally, the reviews below include the 2019 red wines from Woodinville’s Baer winery. Baer was founded in 2000 by Lance Baer. Lance passed away in 2007, but his sister Lisa and father Les took on the mantle and continued the winery. We should all be grateful that they did.
Baer has been one of the early promoters of the Royal Slope as a growing region, sourcing much of its fruit from Stillwater Creek. With Royal Slope receiving appellation status in 2020, the 2019s all proudly list this growing region on their label. The wines are crafted by Erica Orr (Orr Wines, Orr Wine Lab). All of the Baer 2019 red wines are standouts. They are also exceptionally well-priced given their level of quality.
Washington’s 2019s in general risk being overshadowed by the exuberance of the 2018 and 2020 vintages, particularly for Bordeaux varieties. That should not be the case. 2019 is a compelling vintage in its own right, as exemplified by the Baer wines below.
NB: Some reviews have been published directly to the database.
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