Drink Picks

A Benchmark Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

The 2019 vintage of Cristom’s ‘Eileen Vineyard’ Pinot Noir is a classic example of what Oregon’s best-known region can do

Photo (above) courtesy of Cristom, photo (below) courtesy of: Peter Strong
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Recommended by

Peter Strong, sommelier,

Bishop’s Lodge, Santa Fe, New Mexico

At Bishop’s Lodge, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, sommelier Peter Strong often finds himself pouring Cristom Vineyards ‘Eileen Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2019, made in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. 

“As a born-and-raised Oregonian recently transplanted to New Mexico, this wine is not only a nostalgic taste of home, but an incredible example of the world-class wines that my native state produces,” says Strong. 

Cristom Vineyards was founded in 1992 by Paul and Eileen Gerrie (the Eileen vineyard is named after her), and the winemaker, Steve Doerner, previously spent 14 years crafting Pinot Noir at the legendary Calera Wine Company in California. The ‘Eileen Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2019 evokes the vineyard’s setting on the eastern crest of the Eola-Amity Hills, directly inland from the Van Duzer Corridor, a gap in the Coast Range mountains. This Pinot Noir, adds Strong, “is from a cooler, more classically-styled Willamette Valley vintage and a benchmark producer whose wines I’ve enjoyed for many years.”  

Cristom ‘Eileen Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2019 Selling Points

  • Cristom Vineyards practices organic and biodynamic farming, both of which are increasingly sought out by consumers. 
  • The Van Duzer Corridor filters in cool, moist air from the Pacific Ocean, thickening the grape skins, extending hang time, and adding complexity. 

Cristom ‘Eileen Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2019 Tasting Notes

“The 2019 vintage used 44 percent whole clusters and 43 percent new French oak barrels, which balance earthy and toasty notes perfectly against the delicate red fruit and bright acidity,” says Strong. “[It] provides lift on the exceptionally long, pure finish. Delicious now, but with a very long life ahead.”

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Alia Akkam is a writer who covers food, drink, travel, and design. She is the author of Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktails from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels (Hardie Grant) and her work has appeared in Architecturaldigest.com, Dwell.com, Penta, Vogue.com, BBC, Playboy, and Taste, among others, and she is a former editor at Edible Queens, Hospitality Design, and Beverage Media. A native New Yorker, Alia now calls Budapest home. Follow Alia @behdria.

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