2007 Pinot Gris Reserve
Oregon: Willamette Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: PG Epicenter, West
Operative: Agent Petite Verdot
Objective: Return to Chehalem Wines in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. This time around, return with one of their fabled white wines, just in time for springtime imbibing
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chehalem Wines
Wine Subject: 2007 Pinot Gris Reserve
Winemaker: Harry Peterson-Nedry
Backgrounder: The Oregon’s Willamette Valley, just south of Portland and along the Willamette River is traditionally known for Pinot Noir. With increasing frequency, the region is producing extraordinary examples of Pinot Gris, as is evidenced by today’s fantastic example. The regions deep and fertile volcanic soil, cooler climate have a deeply positive effect on local viticulture. Most of the vineyards in this area are planted in the valley’s and hillsides along the river.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A beautiful wine a Honey Blond center, golden undertones and straw bale edges that glitter when you swirl. When the wine comes to rest, thin, glittering tears line the edges of the glass
Smell – Fresh citrus and green apple give way to Asian pear and banana leaves, followed by a light pineapple and vivid floral after notes. These sit easily atop a slight Mellon characteristic
Feel – Medium bodied, vibrant with well-balanced acidity and a crisp mouth feel. The acidity dances on the tongue creating a softly tingly feeling that adds to the vibrancy of the wine
Taste – Bright honey suckle and tangy lime, ripe Asian pear and a vanilla almond milk. Added to these are a touch of soft butter and a wonderful minerality! Starfruit, honeydew and lemongrass parade throughout
Finish – This wine shows off with a long, bright finish! Soft fruit and mild citrus tang linger on the palate, as soft minerals lead to a gentle end where flavors tail off gently
Conclusion – YUM! A vibrant and beautifully structured wine! A perfect blend of sweet and tangy, this wine is wonderful all by itself, making me think of spring and summer, backyard gatherings or laying in the pool! Pair this wine with something spicy and interesting, like Thai food, like delicious spicy prawns. The bright acid and mild residual sugar in this wine make it a lovely compliment to any Asian or Indian spice.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The beautiful location of the Chehalem tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast – After the massive Pinot Gris bottlings from Chehalem in 2006, these much lighter 2007 wines are a delight. Both the regular and this reserve offerings live up to the winery’s professed Alsatian model, with rich textural flavors that bind lightly tropical fruits to searing minerality. Concentrated and complex, this young wine is still quite tight and will need decanting to show its best. February 1, 2009, Paul Gregutt
90 Points – Wine Spectator -Bright and lively, this juicy wine is fragrant with lemon, lemon blossom and melon flavors, lingering on the delicate finish. February 11, 2009, Harvey Steiman
About This Wine:
Reflecting this great vintage for whites, bright aromas and flavors of white peaches, tart nectarines, lime zest, citrus tartness, white pepper, and mineral balance marzipan and key lime–pie richness. The wine is structurally firm from acid and barrel fermentation and, with its bone-dry palate, asserts itself with rich foods and long aging potential. More complex and richer than Pinot Gris deserves to be.
The Wine: This is the version of Pinot Gris we make to gain ultimate complexity and structure. Using Alsace as a standard, we seek weight and richness to make this more than a simple white. This Pinot Gris is a true reserve wine—the fruit is divided at harvest, after full ripeness is achieved, with the reserve portion going through barrel fermentation in neutral oak. With long lees contact, minor partial ML (malolactic fermentation), and a variety of yeasts, the wine is concentrated, complex, well-textured, and carries tropical fruit aromas and a tight pear flavor profile, accented with a honeyed richness.
The Vineyards: Fruit comes from our three Estate Vineyards: Ridgecrest, Stoller, and Corral Creek, blended into a fully-complemented wine. The estate vineyards are planted on three different soil types, which provides complementary elements in resulting wines: Ridgecrest on Willakenzie, Stoller on Jory, and Corral Creek on Laurelwood. The interaction of clone and site add great complexity, consistency, and fullness of character to blends of Pinot Gris, especially in an excellent vintage.
The Vintage: In summary, we think this may be a fantastic white vintage and a surprisingly good red vintage, despite the rain that many times might lead to less intense wines. With rain in the range of 2005 and much less than the last really rainy harvest season of 1997, most winemakers in the valley knew how to adapt and took advantage of the vintage’s attributes, such as lower sugars (and therefore alcohols) and higher acids. As long as botrytis is kept from reds or sorted out, and winemaking sleight of hand provides physical therapy for the intensity shortcomings, such as saignée, tannin adds, chaptalization, and acidulation, the vintage will have stellar wines, just with more variability. Buy whites in general, buy reds from trusted names.
About The Winery:
Chehalem (Chuh-hay-lum) is a local Calapooia Indian word best translated as “gentle land” or “valley of flowers,” phrases that capture a long-standing, almost religious reverence for the land. We understand this reverence, for we consider ourselves a vineyard winery, dedicated to reflecting as purely as possible what the vineyard has produced, with minimal processing, without compromising great fruit.
Chehalem traces its history back to vineyard operations started by Harry Peterson-Nedry in 1980 at Ridgecrest Vineyards, the pioneering wine operation on Ribbon Ridge, northwest of Newberg, Oregon. Bill and Cathy Stoller joined Harry in the winery in 1993 and subsequently began Stoller Vineyards—a densely planted, 125 acres on Stoller family farmlands at the southern tip of the Dundee Hills. Corral Creek Vineyards, adjacent to the winery facility, is Chehalem’s third estate vineyard. Our first release was the 1990 Ridgecrest Pinot Noir.
Equally well-known for red and white wine quality, we carry a passion and focus for cool climate varieties that reflect both site and climate in complex, structured and intensely fruited wines.
Our Pinot gris style is unique, largely because our standard for emulation is Alsace. We produce two distinct wines: a tank fermented Pinot gris that is bright and crisp, and a rich, round Pinot Gris Reserve that is barrel fermented in neutral oak. An intense, bone dry Riesling and rich, full fruited Pinot blanc continue our Alsace resemblance. We also produce a 100% tank-fermented, unoaked Chardonnay, INOX™, and Ian’s Reserve Chardonnay, a wine rich and full with 100% Dijon clone fruit.
For Pinot noir, our main distribution wine is the 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, complemented by limited amounts of Reserve Pinot Noir and a vineyard designate from each of our estate vineyards.
Our philosophy and style do not always follow the industry norms or market trends. That we look for deftness and elegance in Pinot noirs at a time when black, opaque, extracted and heavily wooded wines are the norm, speaks to this sense. That we crop-thin Pinot gris as aggressively as Pinot noir and look for optimal ripeness such that it is harvested after Pinot noir indicates an almost obsessive attention to detail. At a time when Riesling is being pulled out, Chehalem counter intuitively plants prime acres to this variety, convinced it as sensitively reflects site and climate for white wine as Pinot noir does for red.
Call us crazy, but we think our objective is not to follow today’s trends, but is to lead to a novel future that is stimulating, exciting and beautiful—such as it must have been generations ago for the Calapooia, overlooking the “valley of flowers.”
Harvested: Harvested 10/12/2007 from 47% Ridgecrest, 47% Stoller, and 6% Corral Creek sites @ 21.7–23.0 brix, 3.2–3.38 pH, and 7.0–7.8 g/L TA, from
2.25–3.66 tons per acre cropload
Fermentation: Fermented in neutral barrels with several yeasts (native [20%], 3079, SIHA7, VL1, and VL3)
Cooperage/Aging: Aged for 5 months with lees stirring
Wine Selection: Selected barrels from most fermentation lots, after reserve-level selections
Bottling: Cold stabilized and filtered, bottled 4/29/2008
Bottling Analyses: 13.91% alcohol, 6.8 g/L TA, 3.27 pH, 0.1% residual sugar
Release Date: March 2009