We joined owner and wine maker Byron Dooley for a flight at the Seven of Hearts tasting room in Carlton, OR. With a proclivity for old-world style French wines, Byron and his wife Dana moved to the Willamette Valley after leaving their tech careers in Silicon Valley and establishing their passions in Napa. Dana is the owner of locally based Honest Chocolates with two locations and a candymaking kitchen in the same space as the tasting room.

Inspired by classical French wine labels, the wines at Seven of Hearts depict an old playing card embellished with a crest-like image of one of the couple’s cats, Seven.

I’ll be sharing my tasting notes for these wines in thee parts this week – our first tasting notes will cover the two whites that Byron shared with us.

seven_of_hearts_12008 Seven of Hearts Chardonnay
Evenglade Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton AVA

Appearance: Clear, pale golden yellow

Nose: Clean, lemon and citrus, soft apple, minerality, sea salt, granite, mustard seed

Palate: Dry, medium acidity and body, soft vanilla, gentle citrus, soft yellow apple with a medium finish

Burgundian Chardonnay, notably from Chablis (not to be confused for Carlo Rossi), combines aspects that are dry and steely yet still rich and fruity. Milder climate, similar to that of Oregon, creates higher acidity and makes the wine a great pairing to shellfish.

Terroir is derived from Kimmeridgean soil, composed of limestone and fossils which results in fruit that produces those chalky, steel, mineral qualities mentioned. The ’08 Chardonnay by comparison is well matched with it’s inspiration and would also make a great pairing to seafood. Regarding soil, Willakenzie is one of the three major soil types in this area and is similar to Kimmeridgean having high deposits of oceanic sediment.

This is the first Oregon Chardonnay that I think I’ve tried since moving here. Most of the white wine I’ve had at other tasting rooms/events has been either Pinot Gris or Riesling. I think that Seven of Hearts has definitely done a fine job in expressing the terroir with this wine. The minerality is well balanced to the fruity characteristics, and it is not overly oaked.

seven_of_hearts_22008 Seven of Hearts Chatte d’Avignon
Viognier 75% | Roussanne 25%
Columbia Valley AVA

Appearance: Clear, medium golden yellow

Nose: Clean, ginger, citrus, floral, green apple, peach pit

Palate: Dry, medium-low acidity, medium-full body, citrus, stone fruit, ripe apple, medium finish

Moving from Burgundy, the white wines of the Rhône Valley are responsible for inspiring this white blend. Viognier is grown nearly exclusively in the northern Rhône and famous for the rare wines from the Condrieu AOC. Pronounced foral qualities are very common for the variety. Blending of two varieties, Marsanne and Roussanne is while not permitted in Condrieu, is approved in other areas for both red (Syrah based) and white wines. Blending imparts further aromatics, acidity, and aging ability to a wine.

The Chatte d’Avignon (a reference to the papacy’s former home situated in the Rhône delta) offers some of the aromatics one might expect in a Rhône wine, though a little softer around the edges. The acidity however is great, and along with the wine’s richness I definitely would love to pair it with food. The first thing that comes to mind is a savory ratatouille, a vegetable based stew originating in southern France. I don’t recommend pairing it with rat, though that might be something Seven the cat would prefer.

Check back next week as we explore five Pinot noirs made by Seven of Hearts, and discuss their old-world influence.


Ryan Reichert is originally from Northeast Ohio and recently relocated to the Willamette Valley where he works as the Tasting Room Manager at Trisaetum Winery in the Ribbon Ridge AVA. He has received both his Intermediate and Advanced certifications from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and is also a certified French wine enthusiast and  Spanish Wine Educator. Ryan strives to learn all he can about wine and to share his passion with everyone. You can read more of Ryan’s work at http://www.oe-no-phile.com where he posts about many wine related topics.

about author Ryan Reichert

Ryan Reichert is a Portland-based wine writer and educator. Enthusiastic about sharing the best of Oregon wines with everyone. Creator of Northwest Whites, focusing exclusively on Pacific Northwest white wines. Managing editor for "Palate Press: the Online Wine Magazine, an international wine publication.

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  1. Seven of Hearts – Part Two: Exploring Burgundy and Pinot Noir | Travel Oregon Blog says…

    [...] you enjoyed the first part of this series of posts on Seven of [...]

    Written on February 18th, 2010 / Flag this Comment
  2. Seven of Hearts – Part 3: “Estate Grown Pinot Noir” or “The Pinot Clone Wars” | Travel Oregon Blog says…

    [...] a late-coming third part conclusion (see part 1 and part 2) here are my final notes from our visit to the Seven of Hearts tasting room in Carlton. [...]

    Written on March 9th, 2010 / Flag this Comment
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