Erath Winery Review
Address: 9409 NE Worden Hill Rd. Dundee,Oregon 97115.
Phone Number: 800-539-9463
Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00 and by appt.
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Dundee Hills AVA, Oregon
Reviewer: Rob Boss
Review Date: 9/4/2014
Reviewer: Rob Boss
(Photos by Jai Soots)
One of the grand daddies of Oregon’s wine industry, Erath has been around for over 40 years now. From the gravel road to the unpretentious wood structure, everything belies Erath’s size, market share and impact. Although spacious, the dark wood tasting room feels intimate, and even though production is upwards of 130,000 cases now, the staff still treats customers like they’ve walked into a small, mom and pop operation.
My tasting started off with pair of 2013 Pinot Blancs. The first was steel-aged, which I’m predisposed to like and was not disappointed. There was a big lime note in the nose and little else. But the bright acidity and crisp Granny Smith and green apple flavors were round and defined; delicious. Next up was the Quail Run Pinot Blanc that had been aged ten months in neutral oak. A great fooder and more complex than the first, with nectarines and butterscotch in the nose. It had a softer mouthfeel and more moderate acidity, with pear and apple flavors. Both were very good, although I prefer the definition of the flavors in the steel-aged wine.
Before we moved on to reds, Dave, our tasting room maven, switched out glasses. That’s always appreciated, and appropriate for the 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir. This is an Oregon classic, available in all fifty states and often the first time a taster tries an Oregon Pinot Noir. And why not? The bright, intense, crushed raspberry and cherry flavors and aromas are a winner. A blend of 25 vineyards, it’s the largest single production in the state at a whopping 100,000 casesbut you’d hardly know that from the excellent quality. True, they’ve been making it for decades and they’ve got the recipe down, but this doesn’t taste like a high volume wine.
Although considerably smaller in quantity, the 2012 Estate Selection is still blended from seven different vineyards. While the nosefull of intense crushed cherries and raspberries was similar to the previous wine, the ripe, round, cherry and raspberry flavors were more defined and silkier. There was more definition still in the 2012 Dion Vineyards. The Chehalem Mountain AVA was well-represented with its characteristic bright, red cherry flavors and long, lingering, slightly smoky finish. It was one of the high points of the day.
Last in the lineup was a 2010 from Bishop Creek Vineyards. Thanks to the cooler vintage, there was a lovely spicy vanilla nose, with blueberries and raspberries right behind. While I wasn’t surprised by the luscious black plums, Rainier cherries and blackberries, there were more raspberry flavors than I generally associate with Yamhill-Carlton AVA. That was all fine by me, and I savored every drop.
Nice food trays are available, with cheese, meats and nuts; simple but fairly substantial. As might be anticipated, everything in and around the tasting room has an “established” feeling, but while it’s a little bit nicer, a little bit more refined, there’s still a sense of understatement. The wine is still the star at Erath, not the surroundings, which is as it should be. That’s tradition, and a perfect way to move into the future for this great Oregon winery.