Natalie’s Estate, located at the foot of Chehalem Mt. just outside of Newberg, OR was open yesterday so Theo and I, and our friends Kathy and Fred, decided to pay them a visit. We always look forward to going to Natalie’s because they are not open often and it is a treat to taste their exceptional wines. Yesterday’s tasting lineup was especially good. It included the Whistling Ridge Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountain), Zinfandel (Columbia Valley), Pines Vineyard Merlot (Columbia Valley), Elephant Mountain Syrah (Columbia Valley), and the Elephant Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Each and every offering was absolutely delicious! I am always amazed at how winemaker/owner Boyd Teegarden is able to get quality flavor from what most would consider young wines. For example the Elephant Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a 2009. If you tasted it blind you would never guess it was that young because it it incredibly full flavored and is not characterized by over-the-top tannins characteristic of young cabernet sauvignons that I have tasted in California. Particularly noteworthy yesterday was the Elephant Mountain Syrah. I am a syrah lover through and through and this was a WOW wine for me. I’ve had Natalie’s syrahs before but this in my view was the best ever. If you like light-style syrahs perhaps this won’t be for you but if you like what I enjoy calling “chewy” syrahs this will knock your socks off.
When you drink Boyd’s wines you discover quickly that he does not like to hide the fruit in his wine. This syrah blasts you with great fruit yet treats the back pallet to a balanced finish that allows the wine to glide from beginning to end. By now you get that I truly enjoy Natalie’s Estate wines. But there is more! Imagine getting many of these great wines from under $30! This is amazing to me because these wines are superior to many wines that are far more expensive. When I asked Boyd about this he will basically tell you that his winery is successful and he wants to give his customers a great wine at a great price.
I belong to Natalie’s Estate’s wine club. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a big deal but my wine budget has limits and I have to make choices about what clubs I join. One of my requirements has always been that any wine club I join must have a tasting room with regular hours (i.e. I want to be able to visit on a whim). This is not the case with Natalie’s. I bought wine from Natalie’s for several years before I finally joined their club strictly adhering to my requirement. However over time I found myself simply enjoying being there. You will never visit Natalie’s and feel separated from the winemaker. In fact by the you conclude your first visit, assuming you are not one who actively avoids contact with people, you will feel as if Boyd is your good old friend. Boyd wants to pour you his wine. He wants to talk to you about his wine. He wants to make you feel at home. It is truly a unique winery environment. It is comfortable. I love taking family and friends to Natalie’s and I cannot recall a single instance where Boyd has not made it happen even when they were not scheduled to be open. I remember one instance when my nephew was visiting from California and Boyd opened up the tasting room so he could try the wines. There was another club member there who had brought a bottle of pinot noir he had made as part of a class at the late Bishop Creek Winery. Not only did we taste Boyd’s wines but Boyd also poured this club member’s wine, showed how the wine improved by decanting, pulled a couple other pinots from his cellar that were of the same vintage (one I recall was a Laura Volkman) to educate this club member about that particular year’s pinot noirs (2007). My nephew and I got to come along for the ride. It was absolutely wonderful. Boyd was clearly in his element. I would be remiss to not mention Boyd’s wife Cassandra who perhaps has less up-front exposure but plays an important role in making the Natalie’s experience so good. We always have wonderful food pairings whenever the winery is open and she works tirelessly to make sure visitors are taken care of. Cassandra and Boyd are a great team who make Natalie’s Estate an enjoyable experience.
P.S. Natalie’s has a Tempranillo in the barrel that is absolutely wonderful. If you love this Spanish wine as I do this is one you will not want to miss.