August Cellars Tasting Room Review
Address: 14000 NE Quarry Rd. Newberg,Oregon 97132.
Phone Number: 503-554-6766
Tasting Hours: Fri-Sun 11:00-5:00
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Chehalem Mountains AVA, Oregon
Reviewer: Rob Boss
Review Date: 7/26/2014
Reviewer: Rob Boss
(Photos by Jai Soots)
August Cellars is in a unique position among Willamette Valley wineries: it’s the first stop. Situated on Highway 99 just a mile outside Newberg, August Cellars is in a beautiful, newly constructed building that is home to a handful of “tenant winemakers” besides themselves. One stop offers a lot of things to try, with a broad swath of styles and flavors.
The flight began with August Cellars 2008 Chardonnay. Aged in 20% new oak, it was crisp and dry, with nice green apple flavors. It would go well with seafood but was pleasant on its own on that particular warm day. From there, we went to the 2010 Pinot Gris and its bright appley nose, with just a hint of dill. A touch of residual sugar brought out ripe apple and pear flavorsand visions of summer picnics. Our tasting room maven, Erica, recommended it with apples and Gorgonzola cheese, which would be a good call.
Things got little darker in color but not in flavor with the 2013 Rose. A little more residual sugar made it slightly off dry, but it was still nice. Big, bright strawberry flavors with pink grapefruit in the finish were easy to enjoy; perfect for that mixed crowd of wine lovers and cocktail drinkers with a sweet tooth. All of this set us up for the lovely 2005 Aubre Vert Vineyard Pinot Noir. There was a woody, pine forest nose with fresh fruit underneath. Pretty, tart, red fruit flavors showed a nicely aged bottle of wine and good work from winemaker Jim Schaad.
Next up were the tenants, all of whom made a fine showing. Et Fille‘s 2010 Pinot Noir was my favorite of the day. It was light and lovely, typical of a vintage I’m predisposed to, with a nose full of crushed fruit, followed by ripe cherry and blackberry flavors. It was a very pretty wine with a long finish, and spice at the end. It was a steal at $24. As prejudiced as I might be in favor of 2010, the opposite seems to be true for 2009. But Historian by Idealist Wines brought some great stuff to the table. The cedary, spicy nose was great; the bright, intense black cherriesblack fruit in generalwere typical of its Yamhill-Carlton fruit. And it was not the usual raging red fruit bomb that’s associated with the vintage, but instead true to the place of its growing, which was appreciated.
From here, we went down a very different road altogether, starting with Ribera’s 2011 Confluence. This blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise is quintessentialin the Rhone Valley. It’s also become very popular in America, both in California and in Washington, which was the origin of this one. The intense fresh fruit nose had a meaty element like a classic Rhone. The flavors were fresh, juicy and a little dusty, like fresh picked, strawberries, raspberries and cherries. The day was warm so it wasn’t showing like it would on a chilly winter night, but there was no doubting its potential as an excellent dinner companion.
As a parting gift, there was a taste of August Cellars surprisingly famous Marechel-Foch. This detour from the standard Willamette Valley playbook of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay is not for the faint of heart. It’s gamey, dirty, with a generally stinky nose. Tart fruit, woody and vegetal, very young fruit flavors follow. It’s not for everyone, but those who enjoy the meatiness of a Crozes-Hermitage or gaminess of Saint-Joseph will get a kick out of this and buy a bottle.
On the whole, August Cellars is not a bad place to start a day of wine tasting in the Willamette Valley. It’s a nice facility that produces, at this stage of the game, pretty good wine. Value is the centerpiece here, as well as rising stars (like Et Fille), and a few varietals you don’t often see, which is always fun. The value is there, too, which is always a plus and always appreciated by the discerning wine lover.