Portuguese-style wines at Coelho Winery

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When we were in the Willamette Valley the first weekend of November, we went to a tasting room in downtown Amity, OR that makes and pours amazing Portuguese-style wines. It was, for my husband and me, a nod to our upcoming trip to Portugal and Spain in May.

Coelho Winery’s vineyard is located in the Willamette Valley so it’s one of those interesting experiences where you’re tasting American-sourced grapes but then you’ll run across a few doing German-style or, in this case, Portuguese-style and the way the characteristics of the wine change with their traditional wine-making style is fascinating.

Of course, another part of the reason for that is the grapes being used to make the wines. One of my favorites was their 2010 Tradiçã o Portuguese Red Wine. It’s blended with five Portuguese red wines - Alvarelhão, Souzão, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa - sourced from California. The tropical fruit finish is so fun and different that even my friend, who is not a red wine drinker, is haunted by the fact that we didn’t buy a bottle. I guess another road trip is in order.

If you do love a taste of something enough, and have the time, you can purchase wines by the glass at Coelho to enjoy in their expansive but cozy tasting room filled with reclaimed wood from the original 1930’s hardware store that they occupy. Of course, buying a bottle or more is always a wine-makers hope.

Comparing wine varietals is always fun and so it was with their 2011 Atraçã Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and their 2011 Paciê ncia Estate Pinot Noir. The Atraçã W.V. had a distinct peppery nose and round finish, which I find pleasant and the Paciê ncia Estate had a smoother mouth feel, just more finished all around but, for the money, the Atraçã W.V was a good value at $20/bottle. The care taken on the Estate Pinot is evident from the first sip.

I found Coelho’s 2010 Antecipaçã o Petite Sirah smoother and not as bold as so many Syrahs and what I mean by that is it was friendly from the get go. Many wines mellow with the proper food compliment which is wonderful but it can make it tricky to pick out a nice bottle in the tasting room where you don’t have a sharp cheese to tame it with. This Petite Sirah was earthy as is characteristic of a Petit Sirah and the finish promised it’d pair well with fatty meats (or even salmon, which is always my first choice).

Although there are other wines in their line up, these were my stand outs because I’m not a big white wine or Rose lover. We were treated at the end by the pièce de résistance; a 5 year French Oak barrel-aged 2007 Aventura Portuguese Varietal Port. Sometimes flowery words just don’t do a sip justice. It was intensely sweet but not thick or syrupy. Fig was the strongest note that my mouth picked out which lended earthiness to this Port. Once again, the grapes they’re using and the winemaker’s  art of blending them is paramount to the uniqueness and quality (along with 5 years in French Oak). Grapes used - Touriga Nacional, Alveralhão, Souzao, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz - all sourced from Alta Mesa, California just as is the case of their Portuguese Red Wine.

If this tasting experience is the norm and not the exception in Portugal, my husband and I have even more to look forward to during our Portuguese travels.

Coelho Winery is located in downtown Amity, OR at 111 5th Street, 97101 Phone (503) 835-9305. www.coelhowinery.com.