Seven of Hearts Tasting Room Review
Address: 217 West Main Street Carlton,Oregon 97111. website
Tasting Hours: Fri-Sat 12:00-6:00, Sun 12:00-5:00
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Yamhill-Carlton Region, Oregon
Reviewer: Rob Boss
Review Date: 11/29/2015
Reviewer: Rob Boss
(Photos by Jai Soots)
Seven of Hearts sits in the middle of Main Street, Carlton, Oregon, among 18 other tasting rooms. Carlton is great for literally door-to-door tasting, but nineteen is a little too much for one trip, so we opted to follow suggestions from other tasting rooms. Seven of Hearts came highly recommended from another tasting room maven, primarily because they share the space with a chocolatier and offer chocolate pairings with the wines. That sounds great, but in practice, the smell of the chocolate production overpowers the nose of the wine. As a result, my tasting notes only show flavors, not aromatics. (Jai said it was like trying to smell a rose in front of a waterfall, which is accurate.)
But wine is supposed to be fun and there was definitely fun to be had here, with variety: Seven of Hearts produces about 5000 casesbut some thirty different wines. Tasters are offered a checklist, from which they pick a seven wine flight. The choices are all over the board; whites, reds, dessertsand overall the quality is good enough to come back and try others, or just settle in at the tasting bar and make this your only stop.
McKenzie was our affable tasting room maven and while I made my own, random-as-possible choices, starting with a 2014 Reisling called Vigna Giovanni, I felt sure he knew the products well and could put together a fine flight for anyone. Theres just no substitute for knowledgeable customer service, but I think it should be stressed that hes got 3-5 times more wines than most tasting room attendants have to think about. The wine was tart, with a citrusy acid that I thought would work fine with salads or chicken.
The next two whites were just as pleasant. A 2014 Viognier/Roussanne from Rattlesnake Road Vineyard in the Columbia Valley showed summery melon, lemon and lime flavors. Seven of Hearts 2013 Chardonnay had rich, round, apple and pear flavors, thanks to mostly stainless steel aging and no malolactic fermentation. (should result in less rich and round?)
Now it was time for reds, starting with two Pinot Noirs. The 2013 Armstrong Vineyard is from the Ribbon Ridge AVA, with mouthfuls of ripe and dark cherry flavors. Its a very accessible, crowd-pleasing wine. Seven of Hearts estate is Luminous Hills Vineyard, in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The 2013 release had cherry and strawberry flavors; those red flavors were definitely not as dark as Yamhill-Carlton usually is, eschewing the black and blue fruit flavors associated with the area.
We shifted gears from the Willamette and head into the Columbia Valley AVA, starting with the 2013 GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). We both loved the yummy raspberry, strawberry, blackberry and marionberry flavors, so we bought one. Last up was a 2013 Cabernet Franc called Chateau Figareaux, again from Rattlesnake Road Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. Its a lighter, Chinon-style Cab Franc but not as spicy as its French counterpart. Very juicy raspberry and strawberry flavors.
The Seven of Hearts tasting room experience was top notch and professional all the way. However, sharing the tasting room with a confectioner poses a risk. The wines were generally good, and while I dont think the olfactory distraction made them look bad, I do think it hides the subtleties. On the other hand, most of the wines were a bolder style that could stand up to that. Either way, we both enjoyed the wine and the service. Perhaps enjoying those subtleties later on is a bonus.