Tag Archive | Newberg

Artisanal, Arsenal – However you say it – great wine!

The second day of our tasting tour took us to Newberg, Oregon. We decided that we would focus on just a few places, since we had done so many the day before. I received an email from Artisanal Wine Cellars a few weeks before, announcing that they were opening a new tasting room in Newberg. They also offered half off their tasting fee for their first two weekends in the new location. We had first tried Artisanal when we visited August Cellars last November over Thanksgiving weekend, and we really enjoyed their wines. Ever since then, Jon has been talking about “Arsenal” and wanting to visit again. I don’t think he’ll ever get the name right. The owner/winemaker Tom Feller is a science guy, who likes to explain the effect of the soil, the residual sugar, and the PH levels of the wines he produces. It reminds me a lot of Tom at Glacial Lake Missoula, whose exacting detail and scientific attention result in some fantastic wine.

So armed with our coupon, we ventured on in. The tasting room is in a historic building on the main drag of Newberg, with beautiful wood floors and the original exposed brick wall. It has a great feeling – the kind of building that strikes you with its elegance, but still you feel very comfortable. We were treated to a tasting by the owner/winemaker, and we started with a Viognier/Roussanne blend called Dovetail White. It was a light, fresh table wine – great for summer. The Viognier was very nice, with a nice balance of floral and apricot – it has a lot of flavor without being too heavy, as some Viogniers are. Their third white was a lovely Pinot Blanc, with nice apple flavor, stone fruit and a hint of honey. I enjoyed this wine immensely.

After the whites, we moved into the reds with the Evangeline Gamay Noir Rose. Of all the Roses that we tried over the weekend, this one stood out as the best by far. He explained that he uses a different process to make his Rose, by aging the wine for a few days with the skins to give it a robustness that many of the Roses lack. It is going to be a perfect summer wine!

Next, Tom led us through the Pinot Noirs that Artisanal produces. First we tasted the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which is a blend of the three vineyards that they source they Pinots from. It has a cherry flavor with a light body and a touch of chocolate, and is a great everyday drinking wine, considering its reasonable price. We sampled the Jubilee Pinot Noir, a single vineyard Pinot from their Jubilee Vineyard. The Jubilee is a relatively light Pinot, with the tart cherry flavor shining through. It is excellent, but Jon and I both preferred the smokier, more robust Pinot that comes from the Adams Vineyard. We finished with the Reserve Adams Vineyard Pinot – also an excellent smoky, heavy, with flavors of blackberry and lots of spice on the palate.

We left there with four bottles and wanting more – wishing that the money fairy were coming to make a visit at our house anytime soon.

Memorial Weekend Wine Tour – Day 2

On Friday night we spent the night in Woodburn, Oregon, right near the outlet mall.  We started our day out by venturing over to the outlets, where Jon found a pair of nice shoes at Bass and we cleaned up at Columbia.  I got two nice lightweight summer jackets and Jon got a button down shirt.  With the shopping urges quenched, we made our way over to the Newburg/Dundee/Carlton wine country.  We’ve been to several in the area before, so we decided that we would make some stops at places that we had never been to before.

Our first stop was at Carlo and Julian Winery.  It is located in a shop behind the owner’s house, complete with cats and chickens and a little girl running around.  They are very friendly people, but we couldn’t help feeling like we were imposing a bit.  We were the only ones there, but it was still early in the day.  We tasted several of their vintages of Pinot Noir, as well as a Tempranillo and a Malbec.  The Malbec was very good, but is was pricey, and good Malbecs are easy to come by at lower price points.  We ended up buying two bottles of Pinot Noir, 2006 and 2008.  Our opinion was that their Pinots didn’t have a lot of variation in taste between years.  We are curious to see how the 2008 ages.

Next we went into Carlton and wandered randomly down the street.  We stopped at Zenas Wines on the main street in Carlton.  The winemakers are two young brothers who are very interested in the technical aspects of winemaking.  If you are interested, they will go into great detail about the process.  What we found refreshing was coming across a winery that doesn’t focus on Pinot Noir, and makes some really great wines.  We liked them all and had a great time visiting.  We bought three bottles there, their 2007 Meritage, the Cabernet Franc, and their Riesling.  We will really enjoy these when we open them, I’m sure.

Zenas Winery storefront in Carlton, Oregon

A little further down, on the opposite side of the street is Alexana Winery.  They offer a Pinot Gris and two Pinot Noir’s, with grapes from different vineyards.  Their Pinots are excellent, but on the pricey side.  Their tasting includes their high priced Pinot Noir.  We loved it, but at $75, it is out of our price range.

All in all, a great day.  The weather was nice, everyone at all of the wineries was friendly and easy to talk to, and they are very proud of their wines.  Each day in the Willamette Valley is different, because it would take a lifetime to go to all the wineries.  We will certainly try though!