Winery Review: Tualatin Estate Vineyards

April 21, 2011

Last weekend, we headed out to see some cider colleagues and their young cider farm, Bull Run Cider. When we got out there, we realized that we were really close to Tualatin Estate Vineyards, so afterwards we took a little detour.

The tasting room is situated on top of the hill and has lots of windows facing the vineyard. The façade inside is all wood, but it had a nice simple modern country feel. It was not pretentious like some tasting rooms can get.

Now Tualatin Estate Vineyards is somehow partnered up with Willamette Valley Vineyards, as the reason we were interested in visiting Tualatin Estate Vineyards stems from having a semi-sparkling muscat of theirs at a tasting we did at Willamette Valley Vineyards. Out tasting at Tualatin Estate Vineyards was probably made up of 60% Willamette Valley Vineyards wines.

They offered us two tastings, one which was free and one which costs $10 because it had more expensive wines. We decided to split both, and both tastings actually ended up being poured side by side. Interestingly, we were poured to chardonnays at the same time, with one being more acidic and having more bite than the other. We were also served two pinot noirs at the same time, but one cost $25 a bottle, and the other cost $45 a bottle because there was a limited supply. On my initial tasting, I could not tell the difference, but when I tasted the more expensive wine first and the other one second, I could then detect some difference. This is one of those cases where $45 is overpriced, because if I can’t tell the difference, I’m not going to buy it.

The other interesting wine tasting experience was that Willamette Valley Vineyards produced a 2010 whole cluster pinot noir. According to their sales fact sheet, whole grape clusters were put into a tank to ferment without being destemmed or crushed. Fermenting began, and the fruit was then pressed lightly so that the tannin from the stems did not overwhelm the wine too much. The most interesting thing was that this red wine was put back into stainless steel and never saw the inside of an oak barrel. So if you ever wanted to know what kind of flavors oak imparts on wine, this is the wine to taste. However, being a 2010, it had a lot of bite because it was young. I think this wine, because it did not go on oak like most white wines are not, was released early like a white wine. I would be curious to see how this wine tastes in a year.

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