Carlton Cellars 2016 Auxerrois

When Dave met Nick...

Just a decade old, the Carlton Cellars winery was a lifetime in the making. Way back in 1968, a couple of guys became fast friends in the Army. One grew up to be Nick Peirano, the proprietor of Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville. The other? Dave Grooters, a technology entrepreneur famous for his infectious enthusiasm.

Over the years, they stayed in touch. And as Nick’s became “the winemakers’ clubhouse” (as James Beard called it), Dave started flying across the country to hang out. Before long, he knew he wanted to join the club. “Every time I’d visit Nick, there’d be these great winemakers, there’d be dancing on the counters, there’d be food and wine and frolicking, and I thought this is how Oregon was all the time.”

By 1995, he’d sold the software business and pitched in at crush with winemaker Ken Wright. For the next eight years, he commuted back and forth from Pennsylvania learning the wine business – even meeting his wife, Robin, on a plane! Before long, he (and she) were hooked. Grapes were planted in 2003 on the famed Savannah Ridge east of Carlton and a winery built in 2007.

As Dave likes to say, wine is about friends – after all, that’s why it comes in a bottle too big to drink by yourself!

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Carlton Cellars, Carlton, Oregon
2016 Auxerrois

You’re not going to find Auxerrois very often – and this is the first one we’ve featured at Cellar 503. Just five vineyards in Oregon grow it; and that’s almost all the Auxerrois outside of Europe. It’s a grape native to the Alsace region of France, near the northeast border with Germany.

How do you pronounce it? With a hard X and a soft R, “ox-uh-wah”.

In the cool climes of the Willamette Valley, the low levels of acidity in Auxerrois come to the forefront, as a lemon peel tartness – alongside the rich texture of dried fruit and white pepper, and a finish that hints of almond and oak.

It’s that hint of almond and oak that tells the tale of the winemaking technique at play. Very few white wines (aside from Chardonnay) are aged in oak. This 2016 Reserve edition was aged in oak, giving it a rounded finish that makes this wine just sing on your palate.

A Cellar 503 selection in October 2017, Focus on Winemaking Techniques Yamhill-Carlton | Auxerrois

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