Of all my discoveries in the Willamette Valley of wineries of new “boutique” style wineries, the one that really shines for me is Ancient Cellars, in Dundee, Oregon. Brothers Chris and Craig Baker. Chris who found his legs while an intern at a custom crush facility in Dundee, fell in love with he grape and he and his brother decided to open their own winery.
These young men have put their combined education in geology, history and love of the vine, into producing wines that reflect the ancient history of grape production, thusly the name Ancient Cellars. Working within the industry in the custom crush facility, Chris gained extensive knowledge of what grapes from what vineyards in Oregon and Washington produced the best wines. With that knowledge, he quickly built relationships with these vineyards, for sources for his new wine productions.
As to their wines, their white that I really enjoy and keep a supply in my wine cellar is their 2011 Gilt Pinot Gris. With a Wine Spectator review of 89 Points, this crisp and light refreshing wine with flavors of pear and lemon are excellent. I often pair with seafood, especially our Oregon crab.
These guys produce some really excellent reds, with a reminder on my palate to some of the wineries famous today, but not so back when I first started sipping them, and they too were smaller boutique wineries. Their Amphorae Cabernet Sauvignon named for the ancient clay vessel used to transport wines is one. You will experience softer tannins, along with length of black berry and chocolate and slight oak.
Their Terebinth Cabernet Franc is produces as was done in ancient days, using 100% Cabernet Franc grapes. All the nose and palate one would expect from this wine are there, from plum, pomegranate and cassis, to a spiciness well bodied red wine with some moderate tanning and length.
And then there is one of my favorites, their One Toe Duck Pinot Noir. Funny name you say, but serious enough in your glass while you sip and smile at what you will find. With a pleasant nose of spice, fruit and nuts, lading to cherry, strawberry and hazelnut on the palate. This Pinot Noir finishes clear and crisp, with hints of vanilla and spice, and softness of tannin. As a note, I just recently opened my last bottle of their 2008 One Toe, and found it just as excellent as many Pinot Noirs I had the pleasure of tasting at IPNC12 in McMinnville.
One red that I continue to look for in Oregon and Washington, that could keep up with my palate found in Northern California, is Zinfandel. To this date the only winery producing in my opinion an excellent red Zinfandel that rivals California is that of Troon Vineyards in Southern Oregon. Two weeks ago at the ZAP San Francisco Zinfandel Association Festival, Troon was the only Pacific Northwest winery in attendance. And their Zinfandel made quite a showing, along with a major smile on my face.
That being said, the fellows at Ancient Cellars have released their 2010 Otac Zinfandel, and I have already heard that they are selling out at the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival happening as I speak. I haven’t had the opportunity to taste this Zin of theirs, but I can tell you I expect a pleasant surprise.
I will let ya know.