On a cool spring day, when clouds and sun took turns dominating the sky, we stopped into Sherwood House’s tasting room, which we had not been to in almost two years. Though the tasting room looks much the same, with its cozy fireplace, there have been a number of changes in the winery itself. We immediately noticed that there were three options on the tasting menu: a Sherwood House flight of five wines for $16, a Hound’s Tree Estate flight of five wines for $16, and a flight of four Library and Estate wines for $24. We decided to go with one flight of Sherwood House wines and one of Hound’s Tree, tasting them side by side, since there seemed to be comparable choices on both menus.
The friendly and helpful server explained that Hound’s Tree was a new winery that had bought the Oregon Road vineyard from Sherwood House and was making wines in a West Coast style, in partnership with Appoloni Vineyards, a winery based in Oregon (the state, not the road!). Meanwhile, the owner and winemaker of Sherwood house planned to go on making their wines in their own style, which is influenced by French methods. What a nice opportunity to compare styles!
After our tastings we browsed the beautiful shop which adjoins the tasting room. It used to be called Material Objects, and is now called William Ris East. It features fine art, sculpture, and antiques (according to their sign), plus jewelry and pottery. We saw many pieces we liked, and if you are looking for some real art it is a good place to go. One caution: the pour in the winery is fairly generous, so don’t make any decisions on buying art if you’re not compos mentis!
Although the Sherwood House web page mentions music on Saturday afternoons, on this quiet Friday a singer/guitarist set up in a corner and serenaded us with Beatles tunes, among others. A party of women at a table, who were sharing a bottle of rosé and a cheese tray (bought at the winery and provided by Love Lane cheese shop), seemed to enjoy his performance very much, as did we. As we chatted with the server, she took note of my notebook and asked directly if we wrote for any publication, so we admitted that I did a blog. As a result, she gave us two extra tastes. I’ve labeled the Sherwood House choices SH and the Hound’s Tree choices HT.
- 2014 Oregon Road Chardonnay SH $19
This is a pretty typical North Fork steel-fermented chardonnay, with aromas of pears and minerals and tastes of unripe pear. It is both sweet and tart, so well-balanced, with a nice long finish. It is definitely a good food wine. This, like the other whites, is served too cold (not their fault—wineries are obliged to set their refrigeration at a specified temperature), but we warmed the glass in our palms to get a better sense of the wine.
- 2015 HT Estate Chardonnay $24
Really different! We get a vegetable aroma—roasted asparagus or Brussels sprouts—and maybe a slight burnt smell. The taste is also quite different, with some vegetal notes and lots of rock and minerality and even salt, as well as some pear. However, we like this one, too, and it would also be good with food. Maybe something rich, like a roast chicken, while the SH chard might do better with scallops.
- 2013 Estate Chardonnay SH $35
Nope, you won’t find this on the regular tasting menu, but our server thought we should try their one oaked chardonnay. 70% oak, she said, which explained why, though it has some of that butterscotch smell, it does not taste overly oaky. It had a touch of sweetness, but “not unpleasantly so,” opined my husband. Though not a sipper, this would stand up to many different foods. I could see having it with pork chops.
- 2015 Estate Rosé HT $22
A blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot, this rosé has a deep pink color and a sweet aroma that I insist smells like red Twizzlers. My drinking pal suggests “fireplace” and cherry juice. In any event, it is a very dry rosé, with more citrus than strawberry taste. I wouldn’t choose it as a sipper, but I think it could be very nice paired with some charcuterie.
- Oregon Road White Merlot SH $19
When we saw “white merlot” we immediately thought of Anthony Nappa’s Anomaly, which is a white pinot noir (no longer called Anomaly), but this is quite different. I described it as “evanescent,” as it is very light and the taste seems to dissipate very quickly. The aroma is of strawberries, salt, and minerals, and I actually think it would be fun to drop a few strawberries into a glass for summer sipping.
- 2013 Oregon Road Red Blend SH $19
We agreed that this was the perfect price point for this very nice red table wine, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. My guess is the blend is heavy on the merlot, as I got lots of cherry in the smell and taste. My husband pronounced it a “perfectly acceptable” dinner wine. It is fairly dry.
- 2015 Cabernet Franc HT $28
Eh. Not particularly a fan of this one, which we felt was rather “tame,” in my husband’s opinion. Light for a cabernet franc, it is not a red you’d want to pair with a steak or other hearty meat. Maybe veal.
- 2012 Merlot SH $38
This one we like better than the previous wine. It has mouth-watering tannins, lots of cherry taste and aroma, and also some scents of forest.
- 2015 Merlot HT $28
Again, we prefer the Sherwood House style, as we find this red just okay, with not a lot of fruit or depth. It’s not bad, just not very interesting.
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon HT $28
Aromas of dark fruits, like plums and berries, good tannins, dry, and tastes of dark fruit. Again, not exciting, but perfectly acceptable.
- 2012 Cabernet Franc SH $45
I like this one the best of the reds so far, although it has almost no finish. The aroma is a tad funky, with some notes of forest floor as well as dark fruits. Another nicely dry wine, it would go well with a cheese platter.
- 2010 Sherwood Manor SH $45
This is our other extra taste, and a good one it is. It’s the most interesting wine of the day, with lots of varied flavors and aromas and tannins that make us think it would continue to age well.
Reasons to visit: cozy tasting room with a fireplace that is in use in the winter; the opportunity to browse a gallery with beautiful pieces; the Oregon Road Chardonnay, the Sherwood House Estate Chardonnay, the Hound’s Tree Estate Rosé, the Oregon Road Red Blend, the Sherwood Manor; music even when it isn’t scheduled.