TN: New Kids in the Willamette Valley

I was fortunate to be invited to an open house held yesterday at the Portland Wine Project, an urban cooperative winery much like the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, owned by Grochau Cellars and Boedecker Cellars. The purpose was to show off the wines of two “New Kids” in town and in their facility, our own Vincent Fritzsche (Vincent Wine Co.) and another new kid, Anne Hubatch (Helioterra). In addition, they were showing off a cooperative project that involves Vincent and Anne plus two others - John Grochau and one who for some reason has to remain nameless.

On to the wines:

Vincent Wine Co.
2009 Eola-Amity Hills pinot noir
2009 Zenith Vineyard pinot noir

The Eola-Amity wine is from Domaine Coteau and Walnut Hill vineyards and Zenith is, well, Zenith - owned by Tim Ramey (a local securities analyst in his other life), his wife Kari and St. Innocent Winery. Zenith is in a saddle in the middle of the Eola-Amity hills right down the way from Bethel Heights, and has been a vineyard source for St. Innocent and others for many years, primarily under its former name of O’Connor Vineyard.

Showing the almost predictable heat of a warm vintage, these are nevertheless well-made wines from Vincent’s second commercial vintage. I was especially taken with the Zenith. Predictably, it’s the more expensive of the two, but it has a certain meatiness that I sometimes associate with the Pommard clone that it’s made from. Showing lots of nice black fruit typical for the AVA. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the other wine, which is a very nice value for $24, but the Zenith is a clear step up.

2009 Willamette Valley pinot noir
2009 Vintner’s Select pinot noi

These wines are from three vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills. People there must be very accommodating to new winemakers. Once again showing the typicity of the AVA, they show nice dark cherry and blackberry fruit, along with somewhat less heat than the Vincent wines (at least at this point). The Vintner’s select is simply a barrel selection from the larger whole and, while an excellent wine, isn’t as big a step up from the Willamette Valley wine as Vincent’s Zenith is from his E-A bottling.

White Wine
Red Wine

Catchy names. [snort.gif]

Good - no, GREAT values. The white is made from - I’m guessing now because I forgot to ask - primarily pinot gris with perhaps a bit of sauvignon blanc thrown in. It’s lively and refreshing. The red is syrah, mourvedre and counoise, all sourced from Eastern Washington. This may be a value on the order of some of the better Southern Rhone and Languedoc wines from the 2007 vintage. Nicely meaty and chewy, it will be a fabulous wine to slurp around the old Weber for the next few summers if you’re lucky enough to get some.

I also have a report on the Grochau (GC) and Boedecker wines but I’m tired of writing for now. They’ll get their own thread, but I had an interesting experience. Three different people (one winemaker and two attendees) told me, when we were introduced, that they enjoyed my writings here. I didn’t know, of course, that they were even lurking. We’re popular, folks.

Woodman, thanks for stopping by and writing it up. Appreciate you calling things as you see them, as usual. 2009 was a ripe year though alcohols are “only” 14.3% on the Eola-Amity and 14.07% on the Zenith (indeed all Pommard clone). I don’t want to make excuses, but these wines were bottled just a few weeks ago. That’s winemaker code for “if you like them, great, but if not, they’re definitely shut down.” [berserker.gif]

Anne’s wines came from two Eola-Amity sites and then the Apolloni vineyard out in Forest Grove, where she worked for a few vintages.

The Guild wines are indeed gris with a splash of sauvignon blanc and syrah with a quarter mourvedre and 8% counoise, indeed all eastern Washington. Glad you liked them. We’ll have them on some store shelves eminently and in kegs at Irving Street very soon. This co-op project is all about city wine and, as we go, lots of alternative packaging and whatever else we can do being in town and close to so many people and outlets. Our fourth partner is nameless until he works things out with his employer, who have mixed feelings about his involvement.

Shit . . . meant to say “mild heat”, because they certainly weren’t objectionable - and showed less heat than they did as barrel samples not long ago. Sorry. Guess my proofreading isn’t what it ought to be today.


what are the vineyard sites you sourced the Rhones from in Washington?

Anthony, I neglected to mention that these were blended from purchased bulk wine, so they may or may not have that info.

Anthony, as I just wrote to a local retailer, these are wines for drinking, not for thinking. Hope that makes sense. The sources aren’t so important as the quality is. All Columbia Valley and all would normally sell for more if not much more. Such is the market.

Michael @ Story Teller mentioned your opening last Saturday when I was trading some cash for wine. I paid a visit when I saw a GC brochure at Bakery Bar. A great location, and the proximity to my business will be tempting to make it a regular stopping place to the detriment of my finances.

Anne has gracefully corrected me on her vineyard sources via a comment on my blog (address below). I’m getting it from two directions (Anne there and Vincent here). In spite of note taking and website review, I still managed to get it wrong. Surprised? I’m not.

That’s the nature of a co-operative. That many more voices to tell you what little details you got wrong. And no one mentions everything you got so right… pepsi