AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Colene Clemens Photos

Colene Clemens Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Chehalem Mountains AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: June 25, 2015 by Rob Boss
Published: August 18, 2015

(Photos by Jai Soots)

One of the problems you can run into while tasting in the Willamette Valley is simply being overwhelmed by good wine. I once had a humanities teacher tell me it was easy to become inured to masterpieces when visiting Florence, and I suspect it's something like that. But there are standouts; some egregious, some astonishingly great, some overpriced, and some, like Colene Clemens Vineyards, are an outstanding value. Despite what some critics might argue, price matters. A decent wine with a great price can make your day or even your weekend, but if you can find something great at the same price, you should buy a case of it. Inevitably the price goes up once the word gets out.

That's not all there is to this winery, either. It's a long, long road to the top of the hill where it resides but that drive is worth it. Colene Clemens has a beautiful, spacious tasting room on huge, opulent grounds. This is great stuff. There were a handful of customers from a tour group present when we arrived, but as we entered the large, lodge style tasting room, both the attendants, Jeff and Brandi, beamed and welcomed us in. What might have been an awkward placement between already ensconced customers was quickly turned into a comfortable setting, and soon we were all bantering about the weather (as it pertained to the vintage).

Jeff poured the first wine, a 2014 Rose with a floral nose and pink grapefruit flavors lying underneath. The flavors were… a little bit savory… which was fantastic. Then fresh, young strawberries and a stony finish. This one was going home with us, and I was concerned we might be buying out their cellar.

Now into Pinot Noirs, starting with the 2013 Margo estate blend. There was a luscious, spicy nose full of dill, briars, tobacco and strawberries, followed by ripe cherries and cherry pie, raspberries and strawberry. My notes say, "A glorious wine for the price." Next was the 2012 Adriane. I got spice, briars, strawberries and raspberries and "ripe, ripe, ripe cherry and raspberry flavors" (my notes, again). This one scored 94 Wine Spectator points, which I found in keeping with the magazine's taste.

The last pour was the 2012 Victoria, with a mere 320 cases produced. Its nose of cherries, raspberries and ripe strawberries was a harbinger of greatness. Opulent was the word Brandi used, and it is a good word for this wine. Rich, ripe fruit flavors. Espresso and cocoa in the finish. But everything was understated and it was pretty obvious this was going to be phenomenal around New Year's Eve, 2017—or later.

About this time a dog entered the tasting room, followed by a face I recognized but didn't immediately place. I was told it was Steven Goff, the winemaker, which rang a bell (I assumed he and the dog were together). Minutes after he'd left, I remembered I'd tasted his own wine at the Ten Shades of Shea event, and it was one of my favorites of the day. Everything made sense, now. The man's a great winemaker and he's got some tremendous fruit to work with.

No, I can't say enough good about this one. Colene Clemens Vineyards needs to be at the top of your must-see list when tasting in the Willamette Valley. This, I would argue, is brilliance. I've lost count of the number of wineries that charge more for less. Go here for quality. You will not be disappointed.

Address & Contact Information: 22501 NE Dopp Rd. Newberg, Oregon 97132. Telephone: 503-662-4687, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Wed-Sun 11:00-5:00.

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