Oregon Pinot Noir Update

First the bad news:the 2001 vintage, which comprises the majority of current releases in the marketplace, is Oregon's weakest year for pinot noir since 1997. Although I tasted numerous decent wines with supple textures and decent ripeness, few wines from this vintage have real flavor authority or structure and many are downright dilute. A more encouraging note:as I tasted through the largely unimpressive 2001s, I was frequently struck by the thought that solid winemaking had been defeated by weak raw materials, whereas in the past it has more often been the other way around. I view this as a positive development for Oregon pinot noir.

The best news is that 2002 appears to be a splendid vintage for Oregon pinot. Although the 2002s are only now beginning to be released, those that I tasted, which included bottlings from at least a few of the state's most consistently strong producers, left me thirsty for more. From the quality of fruit I've seen to date, I am confident that 2002 will rank as one of the most successful vintages to date for Oregon pinot noir.