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.

Young but Complex Oregon Pinot Noir From the Yamhill-Carlton AVA

Today’s Story: Big Table Farm

Big Table Farm is a relatively small winery and farm established in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in 2006 by winemaker Brian Marcy and artist/farmer Clare Carver. Brian worked with wine in Napa Valley prior to starting Big Table Farm, spending a decade with stints at heavyweights like Turley Wine Cellars, Neyers Vineyards, Blankiet Estate, and Marcassin to hone his craft. Meanwhile Clare is a gifted artist and designs wine labels, many of which have been awarded.

Dedicated to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and small amounts of Pinot Gris and Syrah, Big Table Farm commenced with only 150 cases of wine and has grown to a few thousand cases today. The wines are made in a minimal style, designed to showcase each unique source’s terroir and all wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. With a major emphasis on sustainability and Clare’s passion for farming, the duo’s 70 acre property also acts as a working farm where they produce seasonal vegetables and raise animals. A visit to the property will not only showcase the wines, but you will see hens, pigs, goats, draft horses, and cows wandering about with an area dedicated to bee hives as well.

I recently wrote about the 2020 Laughing Pig Rosé from Big Table Farm, though I previously reviewed the 2014 Willamette Valley Chardonnay and 2019 The Wild Bee Chardonnay as well.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.5% ABV

The 2018 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir is pale ruby in color with purple hues. I let this open up in the glass for about 45 minutes and the wine needed every second given its youth. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of blueberry, blackberry, spiced plum, black raspberry, violet, leather, black olive, pine, crushed rock, and cedar. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, and the palate displays notes of raspberry, dried strawberry, black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, violet, dried tobacco, cola, and underbrush. This dry red is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. 234 cases produced.

Price: $62. I think this is in the arena of very fairly priced to offering great value. I love the BTF Willamette Valley Pinot Noir at a lower price-point, but this Yamhill-Carlton bottling is certainly above and beyond. The intensity, complexity, and length in this Pinot are all profound and this is a bigger wine that certainly needs a few more years of age.