AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Anam Cara Cellars Photos

Anam Cara Cellars Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: January 30, 2015 by Rob Boss
Published: May 13, 2015

(Photos by Jai Soots)

Just off Highway 99 on Main Street in downtown Newburg is Anam Cara's unpretentious tasting room, which had been recommended by Jen, Domaine Trouvere's gracious tasting room host. The big windows up front spill light onto a table and chairs where customers can relax as they taste. Further back is another set of table and chairs, and a slide show about the Willamette Valley and Anam Cara's vineyards. It's barely off the beaten path—a literal stone's throw, actually—easy to find and worth a short, value-filled stop.

Dee was our tasting room maven for the day and started us off with a dry Reisling from the 2012 vintage. There was a nice nose of peach and nectarine, followed by a winking acidity, lemons and limes, and green apples on the palate. We thought it a promising fooder and bought one with fish in mind. Later, we noticed that tasting notes offered in the room included a recommendation for that very pairing, so we were all on the same page. (It was eventually paired with an inexpensive swai filet, with results far exceeding the cost of the meal.)

Up next was the 2011 Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir, which was aged in 80% neutral oak, 20% second year oak—but no new oak. The wine offered a delicate, crushed fruit nose. It was very soft, full of fresh cherry and strawberry flavors, with a medium long raspberry finish. Anam Cara calls this their "school night wine" (some people refer to these as "a great second bottle") because of its low price and simplicity. That might be selling it short. It was a delicious bargain.

Unfortunately, 2011 will be the last year for the Vineyard Selection because all of that fruit will now be going into the Nicholas Estate—essentially the same blend, but with 35% new oak. Though perhaps not the same bargain as the Vineyard Selection, the Nicholas Estate showed more vibrant fruit in the nose. In fact, the wine had a little more of everything: structure, acidity, and a considerably more defined palate of bright, fresh cherry—the distinct Chehalem cherry flavor—for a fine, delicate Pinot Noir. It's always interesting to try two vintages side by side: the 2012 showed bright, bold and intense crushed fruit on the nose. The flavors were more juicy and ripe, with cherries leading the way, followed by raspberries and vanilla. They were both great and while I might prefer the 2011, I recommend the 2012 as a crowd pleaser.

Last up was the 2011 Reserve Estate, made from 100% Dijon clones, and aged in 43% new oak. It was a light, pretty wine, with a spicy cherry pie nose. There was a luscious mouthful of delicate cherry and raspberry flavors, a little briar, and a long, raspberry finish; a real beauty.

On the whole, Anam Cara's wines are a pretty good deal. From the crowds we saw come and go that day, the tasting room isn't a secret anymore (if it ever was). The surroundings are pleasant, the staff knows the product, and the product itself offers a good return on both your time and money. And considering some of the expeditions needed to get to some of the other wineries, "right there-ness" of the place is sort of a relief. What's not to like?

Address & Contact Information: 306 N Main Street Newberg, Oregon 97132. Telephone: 503-537-9150, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00.

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