Explore Oregon Wines: Wineries | Varietals | AVAs | Cellar 503 Selections

Ancient Cellars

Ancient Cellars 2008 Amphorae Cabernet Sauvignon

Blending science and art

Chris Baker is a hard-core scientist. A food scientist to be exact. Between jobs at the Department of Agriculture, he thought he’d work a harvest to see what all the fuss was about. One vintage, and he was hooked.

During his second harvest, a load of grapes became available that didn’t have a home. Right then and there, he and his brother Craig started Ancient Cellars.

Ancient Cellars is produced at 12th & Maple Wine Co., where Chris now serves as director of winemaking. 12th & Maple is a custom crush facility, providing winemakers for folks who have grapes. Not as common in the Willamette Valley, custom crush is very common in Southern Oregon where there are more farmers than winemakers.

With 14 wineries under one roof, Chris has his hands in a lot of Oregon wine. In particular, he loves helping up-and-comers, folks just starting up and need help getting their feet wet in winemaking (sometimes literally!) With Ancient Cellars, he’s able to shepherd his own wine all the way from field to table.

Ancient Cellars

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Ancient Cellars, Dundee, Oregon
2008 Amphorae Cabernet Sauvignon

Clay amphorae were used for thousands of years to ferment and transport wine. While they are still in use in Greece and Italy, they’ve mostly been ignored here in the United States until the last few years. (And Oregon is on the pioneering edge of clay amphora vessels – mostly because of the artistic genius of another of of our winery partners – Andrew Beckham of Beckham Estates – who is not only a winemaker but a talented potter and has developed a line of clay amphorae that he creates by hand.)

At Ancient Cellars, Chris Baker has been using clay amphorae for more than ten years. After sourcing some of these unusual vessels in Europe, he decided to try them on some big bold reds that could use a dose of minerality to balance out the fruit.

And that’s no typo – this 2008 wine has mellowed its tannins over time and turned soft and lovely. Aromas of semi-sweet chocolate, golden raisins and caramel apple blend with the rich berry notes. You’ll taste dark berries and dark chocolate with a nice note of green pepper racing through to remind you that this is really Cabernet Sauvignon. Those smooth tannins leave a luscious finish that will bring you back again and again.

A Cellar 503 selection in October 2019, Unusual Vessels Rogue Valley | Cabernet Sauvignon