Ecclectic tales from an independent wanderer…

Wine Country

Beer by the Bridge


fullsizerenderBrimming with historic buildings, downtown Albany Oregon epitomizes Pacific Northwest charm & character. Because of its access to the Willamette River, Albany used to carry much of the weight of the state on its shoulders when it was known as “Hub City.” Now, undergoing a renaissance of economic development, it’s becoming a hot bed for entrepreneurs embarking on their dreams.

Proud to welcome the No Rails Ale House to our community, owner James Van Deusen started getting serious about his passion for beer in 2013. Three years later, on Sunday January 29th, that dream became a reality as he opened the doors of his 50 tap facility, and welcomed in beer loving enthusiasts from all over the Willamette Valley.

Sit a spell while you sample beers by the tasting flight, glass or pint and be sure to fill your growler to go, or browse their over 800 square foot selection of unique domestic & international finished goods. (more…)

A Review of Recent Vintages

With recent acclaim flying around the Oregon Wine Industry’s 2012 Vintage, I thought we would take a moment to share some tasting notes with you on a few of Carlton Cellars more notable Pinot Noirs.
Happy reading, and sipping…
Carlton Cellars Pinot NoirRoads End
2010: This vintage spent a little less time in the oak (just over 10 months) and the result is a beautifully balanced wine with a nice prescence of both oak & grape tannins. True to a pinot noir & with a little age on it, the color should be a beautiful rust hue. Nice berry fruit flavors will present on the front of the palate followed by a medium finish.
2011One of my favorite vintages, the 2011’s are drinking spectacularly at the moment and are a wonderful representation of what a little bottle aging can accomplish. Aged 18 months in French Oak barrels, this wine exhibits both bold & delicate characteristics as it manages to have a different effect on each part of your palate.
2012: So much can be said about this vintage, including the fact that it is only going to get better & better with each passing year. A goldilocks growing season, the fruit that went into this wine could not have been in better condition. Our three primary clones of the Pinot grape, 777, Pommard & Wadenville, partnered with is 50% New French Oak aging, created the perfect combination for a stunning wine that is perfectly balanced from start to finish.
CapeLookout_BOCape Lookout
2009: Again, another of my Carlton Cellars favorites, this vintage is bold, jammy, fruit forward, spicy & supremely balanced. Typically only 25% New Oak is used to age the Cape Lookout Pinots. The result is a rich wine that lends a wonderful example of Oregon Pinot Noir. New world excellence that embodies the old world traditions.
2010Wine Spectator was a fan of this wine awarding it a 91 point score. An accolade that was evident when the wine was savored, the gentle growing season left its mark on this Pinot with soft fruit tannins that were complimented by its oak regime.
estate-frontEstate Pinot Noir
2011Another great 2011, I’m a big fan of the way that we handle the Estate in the Cellar. 25% New French oak for 10 months helps to create a strikingly balanced wine that is both fruit forward and spice driven.
2012A delicious fruit bomb, this wine explodes with flavors of black cherries, plum & current. Aged with a healthy dose of 25% new oak, this wine is fantastic to drink now while having the tannic strength to stand up to some aging.

Girona: A Spanish City with Venetian Flair


An hour away from Barcelona lies the Catalan province of Girona, a medieval city that has endured Roman rule, Moorish takeover & seize by Charlemagne. Its picturesque streets are backdropped by centuries of history, making this municipality an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona to the south.

Originally founded in 79 BC, the city has endured the test of time, changing with each rule, wearing the mark of each takeover. Declared a Spanish City in the 11th century, Girona is the second largest in Catalonia rivaled only by the Capital, Barcelona.

Walk through centuries of history as you explore the city center on foot. Begin at the Plaça de Catalunya along the banks of the Onyar River, a waterway who’s influence gives the hamlet a Venetian flair. Stroll north along the picturesque Rambla de la Llibertat, a bustling boulevard dotted with humming cafes and brightly colored boutiques. Stop by the stunning Teatre Municipal along the Plaça Vi, beautifully adorned in red velvet from its general seating to the three tiered Opera boxes. Continue along the Carrer Ciutadans to the Call, one of the best preserved Jewish ghettos in all of Europe.

Before being expelled form Spain in 1492, the Jewish cultured flourished in Girona. Within these tight atmospheric streets, unlock bits of history in either the Museu dels Jueus or the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, while taking in beautiful sights in the Centre Bonastruc Ça Porta.

At the city’s heart is the Cathedral de Girona; a stunning representation of Catalan Gothic Architecture finished with a Baroque façade. Marvel at the well preserved 11th-century Tapestry of Creation while enjoying the guided audio tour available at the welcome desk.20140710-173934-63574366.jpg
The city’s other treasures include the Arabic-style baths, Banys Àrabs, dating back to the 12th-century and the Jardins de la Francesca that have several access points to the Passeig Arqueològic, a panoramic walkway that takes you across atop the old city walls for picturesque views of the city.

Before traveling on, stop at one of the city’s fantastic restaurants like Vinil located on the Carrer de Cort-Reial. Serving up traditional Catalan Cuisine, menus are prepared daily, utilizing fresh local ingredients that are brought together for delectable dishes. Rich & creamy Asparagus Risotto, or hand-rolled Pear & Ricotta Ravioli topped with savory Basil Pesto are just a few examples of the delectable offereings.
Complete the experience with a carafe of Rosado wine and of course, a traditional local dessert of Crema Catalan drizzled with Anise Sauce. For a leisurely dining experience, choose one of the outdoor bistro tables, tucked in the shade of the large stone arches and watch the passers-by as you nibble away on one culinary surprise after another.

Only an hour and fifteen minutes by either car or train out of Barcelona, this destination, rich in history is well worth the visit.20140710-174010-63610049.jpg

Worldly Wood


When it comes down to business, “Barrel Tastings” take on a whole new meaning.

For vintners around the globe, the difference between Coopers can seriously make or break your vintage. Just as traditional Shiraz from Australia is always aged in American Oak, the bulk majority of Oregon Winemakers, tend to favor French Oak Barrels over any other.

Coopers, the artisans responsible for crafting these barrels, can vary diversely, just like artists and their mediums.


First is the wood. Where it comes from. The flavor profile it embarks without any toasting. Whether is is White or Red Oak. Its terroir & the way in which it is cultivated.


Next, the grain & staves. Is it finely grained? Long staved? Medium grained or neutral?

Most importantly, the toast. A process in which the barrels are literally charred over open flame, producing a charcoal that helps to not only filter the wine through evaporation, but also impart tannins from both the wood & smoked-scorch. This classification can range from Light Toast, to Medium, Medium-Long, & Long.


Every winemaker’s style is different, but the only real way to classify these subtle nuances for your own style is to taste them, side-by-side. For a barrel dealer, this is imperitive. The result, is an event, centered around multiple wine varietals, aged for various lengths in various barrels with all offerings of toast.

Enter into such an event, and you are truly in for a treat. Aside from the occasional Viognier or other unique white varietal, you will taste a variety of Chardonnays. If you are lucky, one will far outshine the rest, like Maison Joseph Drouhin, 2011 Chassagne-Montrachet “Morgeot” Premier Cru, aged 12 months in 33% New Oak, 33% 2nd Fill, and 33% 3rd fill, French oak barrels by Damy. Delicious, the flavor profile of this wine is nothing short of outstanding, conjuring hints of vanilla, jasmine & sage.


When tasting so technically, be sure to spit after each sample of wine. Most gatherings of this nature provide personal spit cups so that you can avoid splashes or embarrassment as you maintain not only a heightened palate but also your sobriety.



Reds range from Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignons, Port Wines & Pinot Noirs, all with such different characteristics, embodiednot only from their varietals, but also the barrel in which the wine was aged.

20140508-184158.jpgNo wine tasting event is complete without food, and on this particular engagement, our host was Newberg’s renowned, Recipe, wowing attendees with roasted Duck Breast Crostini, Black Truffle Fondue puff pastries, Charcuterie plates, and Salmon Tartare topped with roe.

As you taste, be sure to take notes, highlighting your favorite combinations of these fantastic barrels.

Before leaving, refresh your palate with a small sampling of the traditional Port Wine, sweet enough to refresh your tastebuds, reinvigorating your senses.

20140508-184437.jpgWhen approached objectively, you will come away with an advanced understanding of the art behind Cooperage, as well as an appreciation of the people who make it possible.