BEST of the Portland Indie Wine Fest: Seven of Hearts winemaker Byron Dooley is inspired!

luminoushillsinkWEB.jpgThe 2010 Portland Independent Wine Festival that took place on May 8 is a very manageable tour de force that promotes hand crafted artisanal wines and winemakers. This is the second post on the festival which focuses on Byron Dooley, the enthusiastic and innovative winemaker and owner of the Seven of Hearts brand. [ed. pen and ink drawing above captures Dooley’s Luminous Hills vineyard by Yamhill artist Terry Peasley]
The festival was set up in three rows with 40 wineries pouring from one to four of their best wines that made it past the blind judging. 15 local restaurants including a chocolatier – Moonstruck – agreed to feed the salivating throng. The restaurants we loved are referenced in the first post on PIWF 2010. For the record they included Beaker & Flask – smoked bone marrow and mushroom mash with green garlic puree on toast, Phresh Organic Catering – brioche and wild mushrooms with white cheddar and fresh goat cheese, Wildwood Restaurant – pulled lamb over polenta with green salsa, and dark truffles Moonstruck Chocolates. Oh yeh it was that good.
tBoW tasting team leader Dotoré waited long as he could before hustling the group over to the Seven of Hearts table right after we finished downing the only Ice Wine in the place [ed. Kandarian Wine Cellars, see below].
The Seven of Hearts line caught Dotor√©’s interest in 2009 even though tBoW found the 7H wines at the PIWF 2009 event just a hair rough. This is why we return…to see how the winemaker – Byron Dooley – handled the next vintage. We were so pleased with the three 7H and the single Luminous Hills wines poured at PIWF that we agreed to visit the tasting studio in Carlton the next day.
Dooley was opening up his studio on Main Street owner when we arrived. 08PinotNoirEolaAmityWEB.jpgHe poured ten wines including the four that made the PIWF cut. We were impressed, surprised and pleased. We paid him the best compliment one can; we laid our money down.
2008 Seven of Hearts Eola Amity Hills Pinot Noir $28: Tasted at PIWF. This is one of his estate Pinot Noirs. It has muscle, stuffing, and a lengthy finish. Closer to the Bergstrom style in its rich and elegant structure. At less than half the price. The winery is in Carlton but this fruit is from the Eola-Amity Hills region which is south near Salem. 13%
2009 Seven of Hearts Chatte d’Avignon Viognier & Rousanne Columbia Valley $20: Byron poured this wine with some pride. It represents his best commercial effort yet 2008_sevenofhearts_viogrous.jpgfrom new plantings along the Columbia River Gorge where he believes the soil is ideal for white Rhone grapes. This blend is nice enough but tBoW is not a Viognier fan [ed. he is willing to concede this a flaw in his palate]. Nicely made and balanced just the wrong grape for us. If only there was a solo Rousanne? 120 cs and low alcohol at ~13%.
2009 Seven of Hearts Columbia Valley Rousanne Rattlesnake Vineyard $24: AHA! You know how when you find something and you just are not absolutely certain it is what you think…that it is that freaking good or such a good deal and you should get it right now? Boom…a 100% Rousanne from OR. We tasted this wine after he poured the Viognier-Rousanne blend above. We were stunned at the lush and bright fruit flavors. Lichee nuts, lemon meringue pie, seemingly big as you can make Rousanne. A great effort. Consider it was in the bottle only 6 days when he poured it. Only 49 cases made and we bought one bottle. Mistake! ~13%
kandariansWEB.jpg2008 Kandarian Oregon Pinot Gris Ice Wine $20: We are a sucker for the stickies. Knowing this we are cautious as not to be easily seduced. This wine has flavors, i.e., apricot, we do not usually associate with late harvest wines. kandarianicewine08WEB.jpgThis wine shows honeydew melon flavors, good viscosity, Sauternes like somewhere between the lushness of Rieussec and the leaner style of Suduiraut. Made by Jeff Kandarian who has made wine up and down the coast. Think Johnny Cash singing I’ve been everywhere boys I’ve been everywhere…” We pulled the trigger and took a couple home. 11%
Still to come…et Fille, Wahle, Leelson and Scott Paul…

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