The Cellar Door’s Entertaining Tasting Notes

Want a fun read? Our friend Bryan Shuttleworth from The Cellar Door in Portland has a way with words when it comes to wine writing. Check out some great tasting notes he put together for Seven of Hearts wines!

Earlier this year I had the good fortune to spend several hours visiting with our friend Byron Dooley at Seven of Hearts in Carlton, experiencing both vineyard visits and then a marathon tasting. To say this cat has his hands in much nip would be a huge understatement. The line-up of wines is vast, expanding through Oregon and Washington. It’s so vast that we decided to have Byron do 2 visits this year, the next rendezvous will be July 26 and we’ll do a Part 2. If you think this is a large place, think about the logistics of producing 27 different wines yet only doing 4300 cases total. Impressive indeed!

My how this has filled out over the last year!! It has been so much of a thrill to see the response to the 2010 vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir, especially since they are what “real” Pinot Noirs are all about – silky, graceful, lacy and aromatic. A screaming good deal and made from grapes from the Eola-Amity, Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge appellations in the Willamette Valley, classy, uplifting notes of red fruit dominate and are beautifully caressed by subtle smoke and a potpourri of dried flowers and maple all presented in perfect balance with fine-grained tannins and a finesseful finish. Well-focused, classic cool-climate Pinot Noir that is very accessible now and will drink beautifully over the next several years.


Luminous Hills is Byron’s estate vineyard and after walking through this vineyard, one sees why Byron planted here and the sheer diversity of the terroir of his site. Ranging from 600 feet in elevation up to 800, 2 different soil types are present along with both Pommard and Dijon clones. With its rocky underbelly and high elevation, this estate vineyard is all about bringing forth essence of elegance. The 2011 is beautifully crafted and very indicative of the site, lofty scents of raspberry fruit combine with shaved dark chocolate, prominent mineral, ground pepper and an underlay of rose and thyme. On the palate, it is finely-formed with a lovely core of fruit, yet possessing excellent movement and vibrancy, especially on the ample finish. For this vintage, this wine reveals nice accessible characteristics, but there is ample structure here to allow the wine to age nicely for another decade.

What I love about what Byron is doing with his Rosé wines is that he isn’t just making them simply to have market share. This guy is passionately committed to them on all levels and doesn’t merely bleed off juice to extract color for his reds. With this pink wine, as well as his others, Byron utilizes specific grapes from his sources solely devoted to making superb, direct-press Rosé. For 2012, Byron added in his Luminous Hills fruit that is normally devoted to his higher-end Rosé called Aura (he actually makes 3 Rosé wines) and added it in here due to the miniscule amounts, so what we have is a mere 126 cases in total production, but one hell of a pink value! Delicacy combined with a bit of spice on the laid back nose. Brilliant cranberry/cherry scents. Lots of jaunt, thrust, depth and most importantly, fun. Fine to pair with appetizers or seafood, but also fine for sheer, unadulterated porch guzzling.


Chateau Figereaux is Byron’s label for Bordeaux grapes and after tasting this tiny-production Sauvignon Blanc from both stainless steel and neutral barrel, I knew we had to feature it! Sourced from the Stonehenge Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge this wine reveals an virtual obstacle course of aromas. Fig, lemon, subtle grass, passionfruit and touches of tangerine. Starts off with acoustic, caressing, round aspects in the mouth then switches on the electricity and attacks and thrills. Savory and succulent with well-honed nervosity. Absolutely brilliant Sauvignon that anyone who is infatuated with this grape should definitely try.

The many uses of a winemaker

We all know that Byron Dooley makes our beloved Seven of Hearts and Luminous Hills wine, but here are some of the other hats he wears in the company…

Tasting room staff member179795_10152527868640398_1504005267_n

Byron enjoys pouring for people on the weekends and is usually behind the bar chatting with whoever wanders into our tasting room. One of the core philosophies of Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills is that no one is too busy to meet the people who love our wine.


Winemaker and handyman extraordinaire, Byron assembles the furniture we have in our tasting room–Lena and Rachel are busy with other things, of course. One of the true marks of a small local business is that sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can watch the boss try to assemble a drawer for about half an hour.


Mad scientist

380954_10152309317875398_1424664743_nAnd here is our winemaker (and Santa) using the leftover brandy from making our Coupe’s Cuvée to make some delicious sanitizer. Nothing goes to waste and everything has multiple uses here in the tasting room!



Replacement vine544368_503012919765974_148213535_n

Missing vine? No problem! When one of his precious vines are down and out, Byron is ready to fill in and try his hand in a different step of the winemaking process. Dedication at it’s “vinest.”

Pardon the pun, couldn’t help it.