The Artisanal Wines of Oregon’s Aubichon Cellars

by artfuldiner on January 25, 2016

in Uncategorized

While studying for his doctorate in psychology, Jim Sanders and his wife, Kristin, lived at Beaux Frères Winery, the legendary producer of Pinot Noir, in Newburg, Oregon. It was here that he learned his significant winemaking skills from his friend and mentor, Mike Etzel.

Aubichon Cellars - Jim SandersSince 2006, Mr. Sanders has made the highly rated and regarded Équinoxe Pinot Noir at Le Cadeau Vineyard, which assigns different winemakers a portion of its Parrett Mountain vineyards for individual cuvées. (Mr. Sanders pictured with fellow Le Cadeau winemaker Jacqueline Yoakum.)

In 2007, Mr. Sanders and Le Cadeau owner Tom Mortimer founded Aubichon Cellars, which is reaching even greater heights with its Pinot Noirs. The duo began with a Reserve Pinot, followed by the introduction of the “Willamette Valley” cuvée, which became an immediate hit. Beginning in 2013, the two Pinots were eventually accompanied by single-vineyard bottlings; these were followed, in turn, by an Alsatian-inspired Pinot Gris and lightly-oaked Chardonnay.

Aubichon Cellars - WineryAubichon wines are, in a word, artisanal… “If there is an easy way to do something, chances are we didn’t do it that way,” Mr. Sanders jokes on the winery’s website. And the results of this painstaking, meticulous approach are Pinots of incomparable character and depth.

While I have yet to try the Aubichon 2012 Vista Hills and 2012 Armstrong Vineyard single-vineyard cuvées, they received exceedingly high marks from the oenological-powers-that-be; the former, in fact, was tagged a Wine Enthusiast “Editors’ Choice” selection. Both are priced around the $55.00 mark.

The two Pinots I have sampled are a bit more modestly priced and yet still exquisite examples of Mr. Sanders’ winemaking prowess. The 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, for example, is ripe, rich, and marvelously soft and smooth on the palate. And there are plenty of light & lively fruit flavors here – and just a touch of spice – leading to a fabulously satisfying finish. This is a wine that’s ready to go. Just pop the cork and enjoy. Retails around $30.00 – $35.00.

Aubichon Cellars - 2012 Reserve PinotOn the other hand, if you’re in the mood to part with a touch more of your hard-earned long green, the 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir is more than worth the additional expenditure. This is simply a wonderful wine. Pinot Noirs, in comparison to other varietals, are comparatively light on their feet… but this Reserve has body to spare, great concentration & depth of flavor, and yet remains enticingly elegant and supple. If you’re a Pinot Noir lover, this is a wine not to be missed. Retails in the $40.00 – $45.00 range… and infinitely better than many wines costing twice the price.

As noted above, Aubichon recently expanded its profile to include two white wines. Their first foray into Chardonnay was the 2013 Willamette Valley, which was released just this past year (2015) – and it was a stunning debut.

Aubichon Cellars - 2013 ChardonnayThis is a medium-bodied Chardonnay with all the usually accoutrements – apple, pear & pineapple fruit buttressed by subtle streaks of vanilla – but it is refreshingly light on the oak and boasts only a comparatively modest (in contrast to many lethal California Chards) 13% alcohol. It’s quite forwardly flavorful on the palate, which carries over nicely through to a lingering finish. This is a great food wine… but also a wine that is stimulating enough to enjoy for its own merits. $30.00 – $35.00.

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, prices are approximate… so keep in mind that a little online surfing may often yield significant bargains.




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