Note: This article was written by Sarah Murdoch and originally appeared in the Oregon Wine Press
While winemakers are busy harvesting grapes, key wine publications are also busy weighing in on top wines they’ve tasted over the course of a year. Many publish Top 100 aggregated articles of the wines they enjoyed imbibing the most, from the tens of thousands of wines they tasted.
First, Wine Enthusiast reviewers produce a number of top 100 articles, but Oregon wines had notable results in two—The Enthusiast 100 and Top Cellar Selections of 2022. Wine Enthusiast blind-tasted, reviewed and scored 21,000 wines to arrive upon their top 100 selections for both articles, including what they refer to as “more diverse offerings of often overlooked varieties -like Nebbiolo, Riesling, Tempranillo, Grüner Veltliner and Vidal Blanc – from often overlooked regions.”
One up-and-comer of note is Cho Wines, whose 2017 Laurel Vineyard Brut Rosé Sparkling Blend popped onto critics’ radars in The Enthusiast 100 for 2022. With Cho’s first estate plantings in the ground November 2022, Cho is already receiving critical acclaim, while this particular wine is sourced with grapes from one of Oregon’s newest AVAs, the Laurelwood District AVA. The new AVA was spearheaded by one of the state’s most established winemaking families, the Ponzis, who teamed up with Dion Vineyard’s Kevin Johnson and Beth Klingner in requesting federal approval, granted in June 2020.
The first Korean American winemaking team in Oregon, Dave and Lois Cho nabbed the #83 spot for their Rosé Sparkling Blend, which was awarded 93 points in The Enthusiast 100. Cho selected Laurel Vineyard, he said “for the high quality grapes produced by the Albin family in an unparalleled location in the Willamette Valley.”
The Cho’s are committed to organically and sustainably farmed vineyards as they develop 77 acres in the Willamette Valley into a sustainable vineyard and Oregon white oak savanna.
Another Oregon winery, King Estate, was awarded spot #85 on the list for its 2021 Sauvignon Blanc with a score of 90. The grape has been trending upward for King Estate, who recently told Capital Press they produced 4,440 cases in 2022, up from 2,500 just four years ago. Critic Sean Sullivan described the wine as “a delightful offering. Light aromas of melon, fresh herb, lemon and candied ginger lead to broad-feeling, fleshy flavors. Tart acidity ties it all together. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had.”
Oregon wines also shined in Wine Enthusiast’s Top Cellar Selections of 2022, showing the age-worthiness of Oregon wines. Six made it into this category this past year, one-upping last year’s five. This upward trend shows Oregon wines maturing in quality and consistency, and Laurelwood District AVA makes a second appearance here, this time with Ponzi Vineyards.
Oregon wines in Top Cellar Selections of 2022:
4) Horsepower 2019 Sur Echelas Vineyard Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, score: 95
58) Alexana 2019 Fennwood Vineyard Pinot noir, Yamhill-Carlton, score: 93
67) Shea 2018 Homer Pinot noir, Willamette Valley, score: 95
86) Nicolas-Jay 2018 Pinot noir, Willamette Valley, score: 93
92) Ponzi 2018 Pinot noir, Laurelwood District, score: 92
93) Soter Vineyards 2019 Estate Grown Chardonnay Willamette Valley, score: 92
Awards from JamesSuckling.com
As for JamesSuckling.com, James and his team of tasters rate more than 25,000 wines annually from all key wine regions of the world, and in 2022 reviewed more than 800 wines from Oregon alone. Big fans of Oregon wine, the publication awarded one Oregon winery, Soter Vineyards with two designations; Soter 2018 Pinot noir Yamhill-Carlton Mineral Springs took the #6 spot in Top Wines of the World 2022 with a score of 99. The wine also took the #3 spot in the US in Top 100 Wines of the USA.
15 out of 100 top US wines are from Oregon as follows:
3) Soter Vineyards 2018 Pinot noir Yamhill-Carlton Mineral Springs
9) Domaine Serene 2018 Pinot noir Dundee Hills Aspect
12) Hors Categorie 2019 Syrah Walla Walla Valley
16) 00 Wines 2019 Pinot noir Willamette Valley Eola-Amity Hills Richard Hermann Cuvée
32) Antica Terra 2019 Pinot noir Willamette Valley Botanica
47) Hazelfern 2019 Pinot noir Willamette Valley Prime Cut
49) Bergström 2020 Chardonnay Dundee Hills Bergström Vineyard
54) Gran Moraine 2018 Pinot noir Yamhill-Carlton Dropstone
55) Ponzi Vineyards 2019 ChardonnayWillamette Valley Chehalem Mountains Avellana
68) Nicolas Jay 2019 Pinot noir McMinnville Momtazi
84) Cristom 2019 Pinot noir Willamette Valley Dundee Hills old vine series Arcus Vineyard
85) The Eyrie Vineyards 2019 Pinot noir Dundee Hills The Eyrie
92) Le Cadeau Vineyard 2019 Pinot noir Chehalem Mountains Diversité
96) Domaine Drouhin 2020 ChardonnayWillamette Valley Dundee Hills Edition Limitée
100) Beaux Frères 2019 ChardonnayWillamette Valley
Important to note also is that all 15 of these Oregon wines are rated 96 and above. Also important to note is last year there were 10 in the Top 100 Wines of the USA, which shows a 50% jump in Oregon wines making this exalted list. Said Hallie Whyte at Soter:
“While we’re honored to receive acknowledgement from a reputable, critical reviewer like James Suckling, we’re also energized to see Oregon wines recognized in such a big way. Everyone on list is contributing to the legacy and reputation of the Willamette Valley, and it’s a boon to our region to have such an incredible pedigree of producers in one region.”
Newcomers to the list include Le Cadeau and Hazelfern Cellars. On the award, Hazelfern winemaker and cofounder Bryan Laing said, “Coming in at #47 from more than 4,500 wines the team at JamesSuckling.com tasted this year, we’re extremely honored to be included. We work so hard to make these wines and it’s always so fun to hear that others are enjoying them.”