Ernst Loosen, one of Germany’s leading Riesling producers, is to make an Oregon Pinot Noir, decanter.com has learned.

Although Loosen, Decanter’s Man of the Year 2005, has been looking at acquiring a property in the US state, he will start by buying in grapes.

‘There’s been a huge rise in vineyard prices in the area, so it might be difficult to buy immediately. The first few years, I’ll concentrate on perfecting how to get the best out of local grapes,’ he said.

Loosen plans to work with long-term friend Jay Somers, a respected Pinot Noir producer from the Willamette Valley region of Oregon who bottles under the J Christopher label.

‘I have great respect for the Pinot Noir grape – most Riesling lovers also love Pinot Noir, as they share many similarities in terms of elegance and aromatic finesse,’ said Loosen.

‘Oregon makes wonderful examples, and seems to me to be the US state that is most likely to become famous for this single grape variety, just as Burgundy has in France.’

Loosen is consultant winemaker at Chateau Ste Michelle in neighbouring Washington State where he makes the much-lauded Eroica Single Berry Select Riesling.

He did say he had considered other locations but plumped for Oregon because of its practicality.

‘I did think about growing Riesling in Australia, as there is some very interesting work going on there,‘ he said, ‘but it doesn’t make sense to spread myself too thinly. I’m on the West Coast of the US on a regular basis with Ste Michelle and have a distribution company based in Portland, so it makes sense to concentrate on producing other wines in the same region.’

Written by Jane Anson