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Very Promising Spätlese With a Long Life Ahead

Today’s Story: Weingut Fritz Haag

Weingut Fritz Haag is a historic family-owned wine estate established by the Haag family in 1605 in Brauneberg of the Mosel winegrowing region of Germany. In its more recent “modern” history, Fritz Haag was under the leadership of Wilhelm Haag beginning in 1957 when he returned to help his ill father. An expected one-harvest stay turned into full-time winemaking for Wilhelm, ultimately resulting in exceptional quality wines being produced by the estate which garnered international acclaim and earned Wilhelm the German Winemaker of the Year title in 1994 by Gault Millau’s Guide to German Wines. Wilhelm passed the reins onto his son Oliver in 2005, and he runs the estate to this day with his wife Jessica.

The Fritz Haag estate consists of 19.5 hectares, with the vineyards planted entirely to the Riesling variety on very steep slopes along the Mosel River. As part of their holdings, Fritz Haag owns substantial holdings in the highly regarded Brauneberger Juffer and Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr vineyards which produce their highest quality fruit for the Grosses Gewächs wines and Prädikatswein. Fritz Haag produces a range of Rieslings, going from dry all the way to sweet wines made with botrytis-affected grapes but they keep production to around 5,500 cases per year with mild fluctuations due to vintage conditions.

To preserve the pronounced aroma and flavor characteristics of their wines, Fritz Haag utilizes stainless steel and some old oak during the winemaking process. Fermentations occur only with indigenous yeasts, and the name of the game is to produce exceptionally pure wines that show true sense of place.

To explore Weingut Fritz Haag further, you can check out their website here. I also previously reviewed their 2019 Riesling.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Juffer Riesling Spätlese

100% Riesling; 8% ABV

The 2020 Juffer Riesling Spätlese is pale straw in color. This is super young, so I gave it quite a bit of time to open up in the glass and it no doubt needs more time in the cellar to reach its full potential. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of white peach, lime pith, nectarine, pear, white lily, flint, a hint of petrol, and saline mineral. Flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, with the palate offering up notes of pear, white peach, green apple, lime zest, underripe pineapple, honeysuckle, wet slate, and a hint of green herbs. This medium sweet Riesling is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Good quality, and very well-balanced.

Price: $30 (though you might be able to find it a few dollars cheaper). I think this is very well-priced and even offers a solid value proposition. I know this is insanely young, though the balance and depth are both already very promising. The acid is very high right now but balances well with the sweetness, so this should have a long life ahead.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Delicious Spätburgunder at a Very Reasonable Price

Today’s Story: Shelter Winery

Shelter Winery is a fairly small family-owned winery, established in 2003 by husband and wife duo Hans-Bert Espe and Silke Wolf. Situated in the Baden region of Germany on the eastern side of the Rhine River, Shelter holds vineyards in the villages of Kenzingen and Malterdingen and they are dedicated to the production of Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir. Today their vineyard holdings consist of five hectares (12 acres) and Shelter is dedicated to organic viticulture with zero use of herbicides or pesticides. Harvest is accomplished fully by hand, and the fruit is destemmed at the winery prior to a cold soak and delicate pressing. Fermentation occurs in open top vessels using only native yeasts, and the wine is then transferred to oak barrels of which the majority are used. The end result is a Spätburgunder that is both true to variety and place, while the cooler climate of their vineyards generally yield lower alcohol and higher natural acidity.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Spätburgunder

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2018 Spätburgunder is medium ruby in color. Given some time to open up in the glass, this blossoms beautifully with aromas of medium (+) intensity and a nose of cherry, black raspberry, wild strawberry, blood orange rind, rose petal, anise, leather, a hint of barnyard, charred green herbs, white pepper, and mild baking spice. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, and the palate showcases notes of black cherry, black raspberry, red plum, muddled strawberry, licorice, cola, dried tobacco leaf, green pepper, underbrush, and cocoa powder. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good quality, particularly given the price-point.

Price: $27. I think this is pretty solid value, particularly given how expressive and complex this is after a little air time. It’s also well-balanced and is a fun yet serious representation of German Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Bordeaux Blanc of Exceptional Value From the Family Behind Domaine de Chevalier

Today’s Story: Clos des Lunes

Clos des Lunes is a relatively new venture, established in 2011 by Olivier Bernard and the team behind Domaine de Chevalier. The 2012 vintage was their first at this property. Clos des Lunes is situated on ancient terroir in the Sauternes appellation of Bordeaux, and its neighbors include the likes of Château d’Yquem and Château Guiraud. Contrary to their neighbors who are known for sweet wines, however, Clos des Lunes focuses on making dry white wines from about 70% Sémillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. The estate today consists of about 45 hectares (111 acres) on sloping hills composed of coarse gravel over a bed of clay and limestone, and the vines average about 30 years old. Winemaking here follows the practices of Domaine de Chevalier, and all harvesting is accomplished by hand with multiple passes through the vineyards. Vinification occurs in small thermo-regulated 50 hectoliter vats or in barrels following a light and gentle pressing, with vessel type, new oak percentage, lees exposure, and aging timeline specifically designed for each wine. The Clos des Lunes portfolio consists of three wines, including its entry-level Lune Blanche, flagship Lune d’Argent, and top-end Lune d’Or.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Lune Blanche

70% Sémillon, 30% Sauvignon Blanc; 12.5% ABV

The 2016 Lune Blanche is pale yellow in color and completely transparent. Aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of lemon peel, white peach, white lily, grass, gravel, a hint of petrol (interesting), and saline minerality. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, while the palate offers up notes of lemon pith, peach, chamomile, chopped grass, beeswax, wet stone, and saline. This dry white blend is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish. Quality level is good, with this providing excellent drinkability and enjoyment.

Price: $19. I think this is a great value wine, especially since I found my bottle for less than the average for $17.50. While it’s not the most intense or complex wine, it offers up a delicious and delicate profile while the acid bodes well for its lifetime. This bottling is meant to be consumed young, and I think it’s in a great spot right now.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Screaming Value From Bordeaux’s Côtes de Francs

Today’s Story: Château Marsau

Château Marsau is a family owned and operated wine estate located in Bordeaux’s Côtes de Francs, purchased by the Chadronnier family (who are principals in the large négociant CVGB) in 1994. Today the property consists of 14 hectares (34 acres) on red and grey clay soils, with the vineyards planted to Merlot which excels here. Anne-Laurence and Mathieu Chadronnier run the estate today, with Ann-Laurence spearheading winemaking and Mathieu overseeing sales. Meticulous attention to detail is the name of the game in both vineyards and cellar, with each vine and plot carefully managed individually throughout the growing season. In the cellar, each plot receives its own attention and ages in French oak separately, ensuring the identity of each unique plot is maintained. New oak percentage varies by vintage, though often hovers around the 25% mark, and a small percentage of the vintage matures in amphora for a year before bottling. The Château Marsau portfolio consists of three wines, the Grand Vin which I am reviewing today, their second wine named Prélude, and an additional bottling named Prairie.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Château Marsau

100% Merlot; 14.5% ABV

The 2018 Château Marsau is deep ruby in color. I decanted this for two hours and drank it over the following two hours or so. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, offering up gorgeous notes of blackberry, redcurrant, cherry, red plum, blueberry, licorice, clay, charred green herbs, cedar spill, chocolate, and coffee beans. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, with the palate showcasing notes of black cherry, blackcurrant, blueberry, redcurrant, sweet tobacco, anise, fennel, iron, charred green peppercorn, mocha, and mild baking spice. This dry red is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) and grippy tannins, high alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good quality and has the structure to age well for another five to ten years.

Price: $36. This is a great value for Bordeaux, particularly given its balance and complexity at such a young age. Château Marsau also only produced 20% of their normal yield during 2018, unfortunately due to disease as they shifted to organic farming.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it. If you’re lucky, you could even find this closer to $30.

A Fun Domestic Take on Grüner Veltliner

Today’s Story: Illahe Vineyards

Illahe Vineyards is a family owned and operated wine estate located in Dallas, Oregon within the Willamette Valley winegrowing region. The vineyards on the property trace back to 1983 when Lowell and Pauline Ford planted an acre of Müller-Thurgau, though they have since evolved into a concentration on Pinot Noir with 22 initial acres in 2001. Their son Brad joined the family business in 2004, and runs the property today as grower and winemaker alongside his wife Bethany who heads up sales. The Illahe holdings today consist of 80 acres, though only 60 acres are planted with about 50 of those planted to Pinot Noir. The remaining 10 acres of vineyards are planted to Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, Tempranillo, Viognier, and very small quantities of Lagrein, Schioppettino, and Teroldego.

From a viticultural perspective, Illahe is mainly focused on the preservation of the land. They use cover crops throughout the vineyards to maintain the soils and provide an excellent environment for biodiversity, while refraining to irrigate more mature vines. Pruning and harvest are both accomplished exclusively by hand, and they only use Sulfur spray to combat mildew and botrytis. Taking tradition from some vineyards in Burgundy and throughout France, Illahe also uses two horses, Doc and Bea, to mow and bring all harvested fruit to the winery.

When it comes to winemaking itself, the name of the game is traditional and minimally invasive vinification. After being hand harvested and delivered to the winery by horse in small buckets, the fruit is hand sorted and either destemmed or left whole cluster depending on cuvée and variety. Following a two to six day cold soak, fermentation begins using only native yeasts and Brad uses up to 40 fermentation vessels ranging from oak to clay to stainless steel. The finished wines are meant to be a pure representation of place and variety, which one might gather from the overarching love for tradition in every facet of Illahe.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Estate Grüner Veltliner

100% Grüner Veltliner; 13% ABV

The 2020 Estate Grüner Veltliner is pale straw yellow in color and completely transparent in the glass. The aromas are of medium intensity and the nose rather delicate, offering up notes of green apple, cucumber, lime zest, white florals, wet stone, and white pepper. Flavor intensity is also medium, while the palate showcases notes of green apple, ripe pear, kiwi, lime, crushed gravel, grass, and white pepper. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Pretty good quality here, and fun to try a domestic Grüner.

Price: $22. Given the very good quality level here, I think this is a very fair price for the wine. While the intensity could be better, overall this is a very easy-going wine for a hot day and it’s a great representation of Grüner with some classic notes.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

A Benchmark Napa Valley Chardonnay

Today’s Story: Stony Hill Vineyard

Stony Hill Vineyard is a highly regarded winery located on Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley, and contrary to many properties in Napa they are known for their white wines. The history of Stony Hill begins in 1943 when Fred and Eleanor McCrea purchased 168 acres of land tucked into the slopes of Spring Mountain. The McCrea’s loved French white wines, particularly white Burgundy, so they established their winery in 1951 and released their first wines in 1952 with a focus on Chardonnay. As time went on, Fred and Eleanor planted additional white varieties of Pinot Blanc, Johannisberg Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Semillon. Until 2009 the estate was fully dedicated to white wines and they released their first estate red wine with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a sign that Cabernet truly is king in the Napa Valley.

With Fred’s passing in 1977, Mike Chelini who had been assistant winemaker since 1972 took over the reins as head winemaker of Stony Hill. Mike was a dedicated winemaker here for four decades, continuing the philosophy and practices he learned from Fred while maintaining Stony Hill as a premium Napa producer who sold mainly to select clients. The property was purchased by the Lawrence Family (who also own Brendel Wines, Burgess Cellars, Heitz Cellar, and various vineyards) in 2020 and they brought along a new winemaker named Jaimee Motley. Jaimee seeks to maintain the history and winemaking style present at Stony Hill since its founding, though certainly with a new emphasis on the red wine portfolio.

The Stony Hill vineyards are set on steep terraces in the Spring Mountain AVA, and they total about 30 acres. Ranging in elevation of 800 and 1,550 feet, the vineyards receive a plethora of moderating influences and sit on a bed of volcanic mountain soils with limestone underneath. Stony Hill has been certified organic since 2019, and they have plans over the years to come to include more regenerative farming techniques like the inclusion of livestock. The property also has about 15 acres of fallow land, which will someday see more plantings of Merlot and Syrah with new plantings of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Gamay, Petit Verdot, and Chenin Blanc.

A quick note on Stony Hill’s Chardonnay… The Chardonnay here is produced today the same way it was in 1952, with an emphasis on blocking malolactic fermentation and aging exclusively in neutral oak which is often ten years old. This produces a very linear and mineral-driven Chardonnay with good acid that bodes well for long aging in the cellar.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13% ABV

The 2015 Chardonnay is medium gold in color and transparent in the glass. After about 30 minutes in the glass, this blossoms with aromas of medium (+) intensity and a nose of crisp yellow apple, lemon zest, white peach, stone fruit, white lily, flint, saline, and brioche. The flavors on the palate are also of medium (+) intensity, showcasing notes of lime zest, white peach, apricot, honey, white florals, lemongrass, stony mineral, and hazelnut. This dry white is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good quality and in a pretty nice spot right now.

Price: $77. From a pure “value” perspective, these are becoming quite stretched as prices rose over the years. While there’s no denying this is a great Chardonnay with good balance, intensity, and complexity, you can find similar quality for $50 or sometimes less.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it. Unfortunately purchasing options are limited and the best bet may be ordering directly from the winery.

Rich, Concentrated, and Insanely Complex Central Coast Syrah

Today’s Story: Andremily Wines

Andremily Wines is a relatively young but very highly regarded producer established in 2012 by winemaker Jim Binns and his wife Rachel. Jim fell in love with winemaking while studying at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, also developing his passion for Rhône varieties by working with a number of small producers in California’s Central Coast. After he graduated, Jim joined the incredibly talented Manfred Kankl of cult producer Sine Qua Non. Jim spent twelve vintages with Sine Qua Non, honing his craft as one of Manfred’s prodigies as cellar master, before he and Rachel ultimately followed through on their dream by starting Andremily. Andremily is named as a combination of Andrew and Emily, their children, and Jim focuses on Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Viognier sourced from incredible sites including Bien Nacido, Alta Mesa, Larner, and White Hawk Vineyards. With low yields and insane attention to detail in all aspects of winemaking, Jim produces a flagship Syrah, a Mourvèdre, a Grenache, and a Rhône blend named EABA under the Andremily label.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Syrah No. 2

85% Syrah, 11% Mourvèdre, 4% Viognier; 15.2% ABV

The 2013 Syrah No. 2 is deep ruby in color and nearly black at its core. I decanted this for an hour and drank it over the following 2-3 hours. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of blackberry compote, blueberry, black plum, black cherry, black licorice, violet, sweet tobacco, incense, smoked meat, gingerbread, cracked black pepper, black olive, graphite, vanilla, and baking spice. Flavors are also of pronounced intensity, and the palate displays notes of crème de cassis, rich black plum, wild blueberry, blackberry purée, black raspberry, black cherry, sweet tobacco, anise, violet, smoked game, green peppercorn, cinnamon, gunsmoke, sandalwood, chocolate, and coffee grounds. This dry red is full-bodied with medium acidity, medium but well-integrated tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. Outstanding quality and insanely concentrated and rich. Still drinking pretty youthful but very well-balanced, especially given the ABV. While a tad rich for my personal palate, I still won’t be able to refrain from purchasing more.

Price: $250 (I paid $200 and allocation is closer to $100 I think). Market pricing on a value perspective is a little steep on these wines, I think thanks largely to their incredible reception by the press and consumers coupled with rather small production. I am patiently waiting on the waiting list, though, because at release pricing this is pretty solid value.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Excellent Kabinett That Needs a Bit More Time

Today’s Story: Weingut Clemens Busch

Weingut Clemens Busch is a highly regarded family-owned wine estate under the guide of fifth generation winemaker Clemens Busch and his wife Rita. Clemens began working with his father on the family’s two hectares (five acres) of vineyards during the mid-1970s, however he and Rita inherited the estate themselves in 1984. The winery is located in the town of Pünderich along the Mosel River in Germany, and the majority of their vineyards sit across the way on the iconic hillside known as Marienburg. Over time Clemens and Rita have adeptly added to their vineyard holdings while their neighbors moved elsewhere to focus on Pinot Noir during the 1980s, so today the family property consists of about 16 hectares (39 acres) of vineyards planted to 99% Riesling and 1% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The “house specials,” if you will, are Rieslings made in a dry style though they also produce some noble sweet Riesling as well which many consider some of the finest in the Mosel.

Not one to follow the norms of the region, Clemens believes wholeheartedly that organic and biodynamic viticulture, alongside minimal intervention in the cellar, produces the greatest wines. Clemens and Rita were early adopters of organic farming when they converted in 1984, and they are also early adopters of biodynamics which they fully converted to in 2005 with certification. Clemens also goes against the grain when it comes to his bottlings. The hill of Marienburg became “one site” thanks to a government ruling in 1971 that combined all the individual sites of this 23 hectare (57 acre) hillside into a 90 hectare (222 acre) area. While this was initially supposed to “help” its recognition, Clemens knew that all the different soil types and historic vineyard names are important to maintain so he vinifies, bottles, and labels all the wines by their historic, pre-combined names.

In the cellar specifically, Clemens practices minimal intervention winemaking in an attempt to best showcase the unique terroir of each bottling. This includes fermentation with only native and spontaneous yeasts and aging the wines in very old 1,000 liter barrels (some of which are over 40 years old). Amazingly, most of their fermentation take eight to ten months due to this method! Clemens does not like adding sulfur to his wines either, so to minimize this he only adds a small dose prior to bottling. These wines are never fined as well, again in an effort to show the variety and terroir in the most honest way possible.

Fun Fact: The color of the capsule on each bottle of Clemens Busch tells the consumer what color slate the fruit for the wine grows in. A grey capsule represents grey slate, a blue capsule blue slate, and a red capsule red slate.

I previously reviewed the 2019 Riesling Trocken from Clemens Busch.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Riesling Kabinett

100% Riesling; 7.5% ABV

The 2019 Riesling Kabinett is pale straw in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the wine showcases a nose of pronounced intensity and aromas of white peach, green apple, lime pith, honeysuckle, petrol, and slate. It’s very floral overall, and fairly delicate. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of green apple, lime zest, kiwi, jasmine, wet slate, and mineral. There’s an interesting note of fennel on the finish as well. This off-dry Riesling is medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. No doubt this is too young and perhaps slightly closed off now, but it’s already showing beautiful balance.

Price: $30. This is a great value, even though you should be patient with it and let these rest for a few more years. It has great intensity and acid, and while it’s not the most complex wine right now I think this will improve tremendously.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Remarkable Old World Styled Chardonnay From New Zealand’s Kumeu River

Today’s Story: Kumeu River Wines

Kumeu River Wines is a highly regarded family-owned winery located near the town of Kumeu about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from central Auckland, New Zealand. The estate was established in 1944 by Mick and Katé Brajkovich, who immigrated to New Zealand from the small Croatian village of Živogošće in 1937. The Brajkovich family had practice tending to vines and making wine in Croatia, so they used this experience along with their son Maté by working vineyards and orchards in West Auckland until they could purchase their own small vineyard in Kumeu. Though Mick unfortunately passed away in 1949, Katé and Maté continued working their family property known as San Marino Vineyards and produced wines which they also sold. Maté and his wife Melba, whom he met during the late 1950s, had four children named Michael, Marijana, Milan, and Paul and they grew up amongst the vines on the family’s property. This instilled in them a passion for the family business, and they are all involved to this day.

During the 1980s, Kumeu River Wines really started to get its name and justifiable great reputation. Maté moved away from the hybrid varieties that produced rather basic fortified or still wines and shifted toward Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc which were uncommon in the region at the time. Following the 1983 vintage which Michael spent in France, the family business rebranded as Kumeu River Wines and started focusing extensively on an Old World (or “Burgundy”) style Chardonnay. The family started producing their Chardonnay with indigenous yeasts and whole cluster pressing, with the wines seeing extended aging on the lees as well. Accolades came pouring in, and to this day Kumeu River Wines is most famous for this Chardonnay which strikes up there with some of the White Burgundy greats in blind tastings.

Today, the Kumeu River Wines estate consists of 30 hectares (74 acres) though the family sources fruit from trusted growers on another 10 hectares (25 acres). Soil here is dominated by clay with a sandstone base, which makes water holding capabilities fairly strong and eliminates the need for irrigation. All the grapes are harvested by hand as well, ensuring only the highest-quality fruit makes it into the end product. At the end of the day, Kumeu River Wines produces about 21,000 cases per vintage with the bulk of the portfolio made up of exceptional Old World styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Estate Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13.5% ABV

The 2017 Estate Chardonnay is pale gold in color. This really starts to sing given about 45 minutes to open up in the glass. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the rather deep nose showcasing notes of Meyer lemon, yellow apple, underripe pear, white lily, flint, popcorn kernel, seashell, mild smoke, and saline mineral. This comes across fairly reductive overall. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of peach, lemon zest, green apple, mango, dried pineapple, crushed stone, wet flint, mild green herbs, and a hint of brine. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Certainly has a few years left, but this is very enjoyable now.

Price: $33. This offers great value, and you might be able to find it even cheaper depending on location. The intensity, complexity, and length here are all great which culminates into a very rewarding wine.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Young Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Project With Incredible Potential

Today’s Story: 00 Wines

00 Wines is a relative newcomer to the Willamette Valley, Oregon wine scene, established in 2015 and run by Chris and Kathryn Hermann. The name for this venture, “Double-Zero,” is based on numerology since 0 is the number of potential. Chris and Kathryn view 00 Wines as a push-forward for the potential of the noble varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with each variety contributing one “zero” to the name. Chris is a wine industry veteran, though not in the way you might expect, as he worked for nearly 40 years as a legal advisor to many wine brands focusing on land use and water rights under environmental law. Kathryn, on the other hand, comes from a background in marketing, product management, and software development in the startup space and she guides the creative side of 00 Wines.

00 sources their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from some of the Willamette Valley’s greatest vineyard sites, including Chehalem Mountain, The Eyrie, Eola Springs, Shea, Hyland, and Seven Springs. Though they make exceptional wines from both varieties, 00 is most widely known and respected for their Chardonnay. Modeled after the winemaking methods of white Burgundy legends Coche-Dury and Roulot, 00 practices the “Black Chardonnay” method wherein the Chardonnay must is freely exposed to oxygen during the press cycle without protection from SO2 or dry ice. The Chardonnay sits on its skins and is pressed into the press pan as a dark brown or sometimes black liquid, then it is barreled down without any settling or filtration. As fermentation progresses, the oxygenated dark colors drop out and they are left with maximum phenolic extraction and beautifully clear Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir is nothing to sleep on, however, as incredible attention to detail exists here too. The Pinot clusters are destemmed by hand with shears, allowing the berries to remain perfectly intact while introducing mild stem characteristics into the wine. The Pinot also ferments in 500 liter terracotta amphorae, which is rather unique for the region.

With a philosophy of blending modern with traditional winemaking practices, 00 Wines seeks to produce distinct and high-quality wines that offer as truest a sense of place as possible. Long-time proponents of Willamette Valley winemaking, Chris and Kathryn are off to an incredible start in their own venture.

Today’s Story: 2018 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.1% ABV

The 2018 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir is medium ruby in color. This is fairly dark for a Pinot, though it’s very young. I gave this about an hour to open up, revealing aromas of medium (+) intensity and a complex nose of ripe bing cherry, red plum, black raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, dried tobacco leaf, violet, underbrush, crushed rock, a hint of vanilla, mild nutmeg, and cedar. The flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, with the palate showcasing notes of tart red cherry, cranberry, muddled strawberry, blueberry, licorice, leather, charred green herbs, pine, baking spice, white pepper, and mild vanilla. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) fine-grained tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Very good quality and insanely concentrated, this just needs a few more years in the bottle to evolve and come into perfect balance.

Price: $95. While the intensity, length, and complexity of this wine are profound I struggle at this price-point from a “value” perspective. There’s no doubt this needs time to balance all the components and it is a great wine, however other Willamette Valley Pinots $60 or less pack a heftier punch for now. If you worry less about price and want an ultra-premium Pinot, however, this could be for you.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.