AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Urban Crush Photos

Urban Crush Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: August 6, 2015 by Rob Boss
Published: November 6, 2015

(Photos by Jai Soots)

Urban Crush is a remarkably tiny winery tucked away in Southeast Portland. The tasting room isn’t exactly cramped, but a half dozen customers would make it pretty cozy. It’s all they need: a state of the art facility on a very small scale. Quantity, however, does not preclude quality: there’s definitely some good winemaking going on there from four different winemakers (we got to try from three).

Our tasting began with D’Anu’s 2014 Viognier. There was a little residual sugar, which brought out the mango, peach and nectarine flavors. It was a warm day, so it showed particularly well. Next up was their 2014 Pinot Gris. There was a very citrusy nose to the wine, with peach and nectarine flavors and a lively, food friendly acidity—another perfect summer wine.

Shifting gears now, we went to Pinot Noir, beginning with Willful Wines’ 2013 Northridge, from the Eola Hills. The nose was spicy and savory, indeed, mouthwatering. It was a little lean, with tart, young, raspberry, strawberry and cherry flavors. The spicy finish made it a winner. I found the 2012 Willful Pinot Noir less exciting (or a little more shy), with crushed fruit in the nose and tart, yet still riper fruit on the palate. This one’s star will rise with another year in the bottle; quality and potential were obvious.

Pinot fatigue is an occupational hazard in Oregon, and the best way to handle it is change varietals. Since I particularly love Cabernet Franc, Willful’s Cabernet Franc was particularly welcome after this hard day’s work (the struggle continues). The nose was earthy and woody—but I thought it was corked at first and we double checked the bottle. It wasn’t, and after about five minutes the initial mustiness blew off. The wine made a fine show of rich, stewed plum and fruit flavors.

I first tried Angel Vine Zinfandel when we reviewed Enso Winery a couple of years ago, and was blown away by the balance of the wine. That hasn’t changed with the 2012 Les Collinas Vineyard release, although the alcohol is more under control. I loved the raspberry and blackberry aromatics and flavors. These were very ripe fruit flavors, but not jammy, and a plummy finish.

Depending on who you talk to, Primitivo is either an Italian strain of Zinfandel or a completely different varietal altogether. Angel Vine takes the latter view and produces a Primitivo from the Columbia Valley; also a 2012. It’s not as balanced as the Zin—you can smell the alcohol above the raspberries and strawberries—but the blackberry and raspberry jam flavors are still satisfying. I didn’t like it as well as the Zin but I could think of a few people who might, and it was pretty interesting trying them side by side.

Last of all was the 2012 Hellion, which was neither the first wine I’d had by that name, nor the first named after a winemaker’s child. I think it significant that the other Hellion was a damn good wine, just like Angel Vine’s. (The other one was made from Rhone varietals—quite different.) This was a spicy one, showing pepper and white pepper, raspberries and briars on the nose. The raspberry, blackberry, marionberry and ripe black plums flavors were super jammy—a very cool wine.

Great place, this Urban Crush. The wines certainly belie its humble appearances. Despite being a little hard to find (blink and you’ll miss it), it’s easy to get to and well worth the effort. If you’re in Portland and short on time, you can have a great tasting trip just hitting the urban wineries, and the Southeast area has the highest concentration, with great restaurants. But the wine, not convenience, is the star, the reason to go, and Urban Crush is definitely a good stop.

Address & Contact Information: 2025 SE 7th Ave Portland, Oregon 97214. Telephone: 503-477-6994, website: Tasting Hours: Thurs-Sat 12:00-7:00, Sun 12:00-5:00 and by appt..

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