Oregon bubbles and dessert-style wines

Name Change

Starting with this tasting, OWP has renamed its wine review program. “Value Picks” served us well for years, but the “Value” part of the name kept some wineries from submitting, not wanting their wines to appear as “bargain bin” selection. This was never our intention; instead, we wanted to recommend great wines at reasonable prices.

We will continue to do this — with a few changes in 2016 — under the new name: OWP Cellar Selects

The Oregon Wine Press tasting panel has selected the following wines based on overall quality and value within their respective categories. To the best of our knowledge, they are currently available in the marketplace. Wine must be: 1) produced by an Oregon winery; 2) priced according to schedule below*; and 3) currently available to consumers. Recommended wines were selected using a double blind method and a 20-point ranking system for appearance, aroma, taste, balance and finish.

Kramer Vineyards 2013 Yamhill-Carlton Brut

Made from 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this lovely wine features the perfect combination of traditional method sparkling with a New World perspective. Just enough yeasty, bready intrigue meets juicier flavors of peach and tart apple. Briny, herbal and mineral notes add nuance. What to pair? With this wine, who cares about dinner? If you need more calories, open a second bottle.
$28; 120 cases

St. Josef’s NV Sparkling Willamette Valley Syrah

If there is ever a lull in conversation, open this wine. The tasting panel could not stop discussing it. The deeply jeweled red hue must be the color of joy. Candied cherry, vanilla, spice, sweet smoked cherrywood, cola, dark cherry leather — the descriptions would not stop. Lightly bubbled and dark but with so much pizazz and surprisingly dry. Pair with a friend or someone you wish were a friend — or smoked cheese if sharing isn’t your thing.
$20; 130 cases

J. Albin 2008 Chehalem Mountains Blanc de Noir

Experience the very savory side of traditional method Pinot Noir sparkling in this selection, especially for those who like it a little “Old World.” Six years of aging on the lees has infused flavors of sourdough, salty cheese, anise and pear with a mineral undertone. This wine demands some food. Anyone craving a sourdough salty cheese sandwich?
$30; 458 cases

Silvan Ridge 2014 Willamette Valley Semi-Sparkling Early Muscat

For those with “Muscat love,” here is one with all the wonderful flavors you want and a lively palate. Soft and sweet but not too viscous, the wine is dangerously drinkable. Sweet flavors of ripe cantaloupe, candied mango and caramel are balanced with the freshness of honeysuckle, tea rose, jasmine and pine.
$14.99; 1,700 cases

Left Coast 2014 Willamette Valley Queen Bee Bubbly

Left Coast Cellars is home to 45 separate hives of honeybees from which they use their nectar in this special bottling of sparkling Pinot Noir. Although honey fuels the second fermentation, the wine remains dry with bright, grassy, mineral, lime and tart apple notes. A little buttered toast appears due to a relatively short time (four to six months) on lees before release. Never disgorged and sold with a crown cap, the wine remains clear because the yeast is encapsulated in beads visible in the bottom of the clear bottle — a cool visual for a wine that’s fit for a queen.
$30; 200 cases

Anam Cara 2013 Chehalem Mountains Gewürztraminer

A combo of freshly milled wood and tropical fruit-infused syrup mingles with light floral notes. Honey and cantaloupe coat the mouth, and balance appears in the form of bright acid. The final note is dried mango. Pair with spiced coffee cake.
$24; 180 cases

Armonéa 2013 Dundee Hills Late Harvest Riesling

Smells like apple cider, cedar and black tea. Tastes like candied lemon peel, dried pineapple and fresh rain falling in a pine forest. Silky on the tongue, this wine offers all of the excitement of Riesling with the nuanced wisdom that comes from a longer life on the vine.
$30; 87 cases

J. Albin 2014 Chehalem Mountains Vin Glace Dessert Wine

The color of rose gold, this ice wine-style Pinot Noir intoxicates the nose with aromas of peach cobbler and macadamia nut. Sweet, but not too sweet, this is a lively little wine with bright acid and a long finish. Flavors of sweet orange blossom and peach sorbet offer fuzzy navel lovers another option. Consider pairing with something salty-sweet, like salted caramel cheesecake.
$19.50; 56 cases

Melrose Vineyards NV Umpqua Valley Solstice Solera Baco Noir

Its tawny color sets the tone. Caramelized sugar, dried Italian plums, nutmeg, dried fig and smoke combine in a wine just sweet enough. Like the first night cool enough to light a fire, this wine tastes like the beginning of autumn, and consists of five vintages of Baco Noir blended in a solera style — similar to Sherry production.
$22; 40 cases

J. Scott Cellars 2011 Rogue Valley Mistelle Dessert Wine

Using two of the traditional Port grapes, Tinta Cão and Touriga Nacional, this selection is far more complex than many dessert wines. Fortified in a Port style but with lower sugar and alcohol than most traditional Ports, this wine offers nuanced flavors of dried fruits, cola, smoke and leather with a woody, tannic masculinity. With smoky meat on the nose, is this the wine for those trendy bacon desserts? Or just pair it with a leather chair and dark chocolate.
$24; 150 cases

Arcane Cellars NV Madouro

A fireside wine with a compelling savory character that announces, “Of course, I’m sweet, but I’m so much more.” Notes of clove, fresh hay, spicy black tea, spice, hickory wood and fig compote intrigue the palate and nose. This Port-style wine is a “proprietary” blend.
$25; 118 cases

Agate Ridge Vineyards 2010 Rouge Valley Black Sticky

A little hot but exciting, like dark chocolate with red chili peppers, this dusty cocoa-, bramble- and fruit-scented wine lets you know you are in for something rich. Stewed cherries, raspberry jam and dark chocolate-covered raisins flavors deliver that sumptuous reward. As for the name, the wine is made in the Port style from Syrah grown in “black sticky” soil.
$25; 100 cases

Buddha Kat NV Framboise Chocolate Wine

All things raspberry, the aroma is bright, fruity and jammy. The dark chocolate essence comes through on the first taste. This raspberry wine fortified into a Port-style dessert wine mimics a liqueur. Consider it a welcome addition on ice cream, mixed with sparkling wine, in coffee, dabbed behind your ears. Where you put it is your own business.
$24; 70 cases