Tasting Through Willamette Valley

To celebrate Thanksgiving, my beau and I planned a trip out to Washington and Oregon – partially to spend time with my sister and her husband in Seattle, partially to knock two more states off his list (only 5 more to go!), and a lot because I wanted to visit wineries.  (I visited Northwest wineries in 2016, so I knew they would be glorious.)

We had no specific plans, but I definitely wanted to spend time in the Willamette Valley region.  Lo and behold, this desire became a reality and we were able to visit three fantastic wineries in one day.

A special thanks: Appreciation goes to the staff at Argyle Winery, Domaine Serene Winery, and Durant Vineyards for believing me when I explained I was a blogger from the Midwest.  They treated us like royalty, and it was a pleasure to learn from these experts.

In half a day we tried over 20 wines, but there were four in particular that especially delighted our taste buds.

Argyle Spirithouse Riesling1. Argyle Winery | 2015 Spirithouse Riesling | Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

The Argyle Winery is lovely – with the tasting room interior made from repurposed Douglas Fir wood that had been in the original cellar building.

While this winery is well-known for its bubbly sparkling wines, the one I couldn’t resist was a still Riesling from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.

My tasting notes describe this wine as a pale straw color, with aromas of pineapple and oak.  The body is medium+, tannins are low, acidity is medium, alcohol is about 13.5%, and it’s bone dry and tart.  The wine was made in a windy and cool climate with high elevation. On The Marketing Lush rating scale I gave it a 2.75, and it retails for $35 a bottle at the winery.


Les Tourelles de la Cree2. Château de la Crée | 2016 Les Tourelles de la Cree (Chardonnay) | Montagny, Burgundy, France

This wine was actually produced at Château de la Crée estate in Santenay, Burgundy, which is now owned by Domaine Serene.

My tasting notes describe this wine as a medium yellow sliding into gold, with aromas of apple and light oak.

The body is medium, tannins are medium-, acidity is medium, alcohol is around 13%, and it’s a dry but incredibly well-balanced wine.  The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, but there’s not too much butter. It was awarded 91 points by International Wine Report.  On The Marketing Lush rating scale I gave it a 2.5, and it retails for $45 a bottle at the winery.


Domaine Serene Pinot Noir3. Domaine Serene Winery | 2015 Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir | Yamhill County, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

Fun fact: Domaine Serene in Dayton, Oregon was the filming site of one episode the TV show Leverage (season 5, episode 13, “The Corkscrew Job”).

The tasting room associate jokingly described this wine as a “slutty wine” because it didn’t need much aging to be easy to drink.

My tasting notes describe this wine as a pale purplish-ruby, with aromas of dark fruit.  The body is medium-, tannins are low, acidity is medium-, alcohol is 14.4% (note: I almost never see a bottle with such a precise ABV, usually it’s .5 or .0), and it’s an off-dry.

The wine was quite fruity and reminded me fondly of Meiomi Pinot Noir with flavors of cherry.  The tasting room associate had us try it side-by-side with the 2013 vintage, but I definitely preferred the 2015.  It was awarded 92 points by International Wine Report.  On The Marketing Lush rating scale I gave it a 3, and it retails for $52 a bottle at the winery.

Wine that Got Away - Durant Vineyards4. Durant Vineyards | Pinot Noir | Oregon, USA

This is “the wine that got away”.  We were driving back to the main road, and Red Ridge Farm and Durant Vineyards were having their huge annual Olio Nuovo Festival.  There was a farmers market, music, and people everywhere.

We ended up buying a hunk of cheese, a baguette, and a glass of Pinot Noir.  Then we grabbed a blanket and picnicked out on the lawn, with perfect weather and a hazy view of the mountains in the distance.  It was lovely.

So lovely, in fact, that I never thought to make notes on the tasty wine we were sipping on.  All I remember is that it was delish.


Additional thanks go to Wine Folly (the greatest wine blog ever) for the awesome Tasting Journal I was using to document my journey – it’s so handy and easy to use, though I’m still not quite fluent enough in wine to fill out all the fields thoroughly.  Also, it takes a while for me to write each one, so I only use it to record my favorites. But practice makes perfect, so cheers to more wine tasting in the future!


The Marketing Lush Expanded Rating Scale

3 = I would buy it.
The highest rating.  It means that I liked it so much that I would spend my hard earned cash and purchase this one above others.

2.1 – 2.9 = I’ll chip in on the bottle.
It’s good and I’d definitely drink it, but maybe it’s priced a little too high or maybe there’s just something missing.  Either way, I’ll split the cost with you to get this one.

2 = I’ll drink it if you buy it.
It was good, but it didn’t dazzle me.  But hey, if you are opening it anyway, you can go ahead and pour some for me, too.

1 = I’ll drink it if it’s the only option available.
Let’s face it, this is not particularly good… but it’s alcoholic and technically drinkable, and only a fool would turn it away if it’s the only option on hand.

0 = No, thanks.
Seriously, what is this??!  I don’t think humans are supposed to drink it.  The only thing I might use this for is a spit-take, and only if I have a chaser nearby.



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