Seven of Hearts Wine 2013 Chatte d’Avignon GSM+C

For the love of France, here in Oregon

Whether it’s latitude, climate, or topography, it’s clear that Oregon’s wine country has much in common with some of the great wine regions of France. But it’s rare to find a winemaker as committed as Byron Dooley to making wine in the French style.

Byron’s approach is to use French varietals and classic French winemaking techniques. He sources his grapes from more than a dozen vineyards in the Willamette and Columbia Valleys, going so far as to select specific rows of grape vines that have particular characteristics that he’s looking for.

He may be sourcing the grapes from numerous vineyards, but Byron is certainly not hands-off. He directs the cultivation and harvesting methods to match his vision for the French style wines he intends to make. And then, once he’s got his hands on the grapes, his approach is minimalist and traditionally French.

Byron’s Bordeaux varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc) and Tannat appear in his Chateau Figareaux line, while his Rhône varietals (Viognier, Rousanne, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) appear in the Seven of Hearts Chatte d’Avignon line.

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Seven of Hearts Wine, Carlton, Oregon
2013 Chatte d’Avignon GSM+C

A little history lesson: For 70 years, in the 14th century, the Catholic papacy relocated from Rome to Avignon, in southern France. These seven Avignon popes brought lots of attention to the vineyards of the southern Rhône. Even to this day, the most famous of these winegrowing regions is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or “the Pope’s new castle”.

In that region, the most dominant varietals are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre — which led to the development of a delicious and renowned blend known as the “GSM”.

With a hat tip to the popes of Avignon, Seven of Hearts produces an annual GSM blend—tweaked in 2013 to include another of the permitted Rhône varietals, Cinsault, for the first time. Or as winemaker Byron Dooley puts it, “a little vitamin C”.

The 38% Grenache provides the rich fruit and spicy flavors . The 36% Syrah gives it earthy depth. The 14% Mourvèdre provides the leather and black pepper notes. And the 12% Cinsault gives it the brightness of strawberry.

A Cellar 503 selection in July 2016, Porch Pounders and BBQ Wines Columbia Valley | Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah

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