Tag Archive | Chehalem Winery

Chehalem 2013 Ridgecrest Grüner Veltliner

Ahhh…  the end of the work week, and I get my last summer schedule Friday off tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I’ll be spending this last Friday loading branches into a trailer to haul away.  The work will start early, and go until it is done!  The storm left a lot of busy work, but luckily Jon and I will have help from our Dads!

So tonight, I’m relaxing with a glass of Chehalem 2013 Ridgecrest Grüner Veltliner.  It is a nice summer white with balanced acidity, and flavors of lemongrass with a hint of light butter.  It finishes with more lemongrass and white pepper.  It is a very food friendly wine with medium body.  I enjoyed mine with a breakfast for dinner of eggs over easy and toast.  Which just goes to show that I’ll drink wine with anything!

Here’s to the long weekend!

2012 Chehalem Three Vineyard Riesling

It’s been a long week…  I am nearing the home stretch of a big recruitment process to hire my next boss, but that has meant several long days.  I’m ready for the weekend now!

To relax after my long day, I’m sipping on the 2012 Three Vineyard Riesling from Chehalem Winery.  It has a crisp minerality that is balanced by sweetness, something that is unusual in Northwest Rieslings.  There are flavors of tropical fruit – I picked up pineapple – with wet stone.

Even though it was raining and I was feeling the need to get bundled up against the cold, this crisp wine really hit the spot and reminded me that summer is on its way.

This wine contains 10% alcohol and 1.1% residual sugar, and is sourced from all three of Chehalem’s estate vineyards: Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek.

Have you had the 2012 Chehalem Three Vineyard Riesling?  What did you think?

Oregon Wine Tasting – Chehalem Best Barrel Day

On our full day in Portland, my cousin Megan wanted to spend the day doing some wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.  My mom volunteered to be our designated driver, so we made plans to visit a couple of wineries and spend the day socializing and trying some new wines.  Being from Michigan, Megan had never tried tried Oregon wines before, so she was looking forward to experiencing something new.  To be honest though, I was a little concerned because Michigan wineries tend to make much sweeter wines than the wineries on the West Coast.  I wasn’t sure if Megan would like them!

After catching a bit of my nieces’ T-Ball game, we headed over to the Willamette Valley and made our first stop at Chehalem Winery.  Chehalem is one of my absolute favorite wineries, and I was super-excited to be there because it was Best Barrel Day.  Best Barrel Day is a special event that Chehalem puts on each year in May, the weekend before Memorial Day weekend.  Jon and I are wine club members, one of the very few wine clubs that we belong to.  The Best Barrels are available only to club members, and they are only available for tasting this particular weekend (they might taste them again the next weekend – Memorial Day – if there is still enough available).

Megan and I began our tasting with the commercially released whites.  We began with Inox Chardonnay, which is a wonderful crisp stainless steel aged Chardonnay.  This is a fantastic white wine, that is consistent year to year and always a crowd pleaser when we have guests over.  The Corral Creek Riesling is a great Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, with just enough sweetness.

Chehalem Barrels - Waiting for Some Wine!

Chehalem Barrels – Waiting for Some Wine!

After tasting the whites, we went into the cellar to taste the barrels.  Chehalem produces several single vineyard Pinot Noirs and a single vineyard Chardonnay each year, and every year, the winemaker selects one barrel from each wine that exemplifies what that particular wine is supposed to be – the best barrel.  The best barrel is then aged and bottled by itself and sold in 6-packs to wine club members.  The five wines were:

  • 2012 Stoller Vineyards Chardonnay – this wine is aged on oak, so it is a bigger, bolder Chardonnay than the Inox, which is made from grapes from the same vineyard.  It is wonderfully balanced between fruit and oak, with flavors of honey, pear and floral notes.
  • 2012 Corral Creek Vineyards Pinot Noir – Corral Creek Vineyard is the Chehalem vineyard that produces the softest, most elegant Pinot Noirs.  They are some of my favorites.  This barrel is excellent, but this years Corral Creek grapes are more robust than typical, with a bit more earthy flavor than normal.  It still has light tannins and the cranberry and cherry flavors that I enjoy so much.
  • 2012 Stoller Vineyards Pinot Noir – This wine is very big, with a much darker purple color that a typical Pinot Noir.  It is very spicy  with much heavier tannins than many Pinots.  This was my least favorite barrel of the bunch.  That said, as the wine is not finished aging, I have every expectation that this wine will transform into a beautiful Pinot – Chehalem’s wines always do.
  • 2012 Ridgecrest Vineyards Pinot Noir – This Ridgecrest Pinot Noir came from a block planted in 1983, and shows moderate tannins, some blackberry mixed into the cherry, and some light spice flavors (is it oregano or thyme?).  This wine was my favorite from the five barrels.
  • 2012 Wind Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir – Wind Ridge is a smaller section within the Ridgecrest vineyard, and has characteristics that are similar to the Ridgecrest barrel.  There are the same flavors of blackberry and spice, but a bit more pepper and earth than the Ridgecrest vineyard barrel.  It was hard to choose the favorite between this one and the Ridgecrest, but this one came in a close second for me.

It was always interesting to taste from the barrel – these young wines will change a lot before they are finally bottled and sold, but you can taste the beginnings of what they are going to become.  After the barrel tasting, we headed back out to the event tent, where we got to taste the bottled versions of the Pinots that were recently released – 2011.  The bottlings were the commercially released wines, so essentially, we were tasting the versions from all the barrels from the vineyards that were not selected as the best barrel.

Even though these aren’t the Best Barrels, these wines are certainly nothing to turn your nose up at!  The 2011 Corral Creek, Stoller, and Ridgecrest Vineyards Pinot Noirs are all excellent, and Megan and I enjoyed them immensely.  They were served with some gourmet hors d’oeuvres, which paired nicely with the wines.

Even though we don’t often have the opportunity to visit Chehalem, their events are always second to none.  They make you feel welcome and valued when you visit, and I always have a great time.  Still at the top of my list for wineries!

Note: I apologize for the lack of photos on this post – I was enjoying myself so much that I neglected to take more pictures…  I will try to do better next time.

The Kitties are Hot… But the Chehalem is Chilled!

Today it reached a whopping 87 degrees, which is pretty darned hot here in the Northwest.  Of course, this week at work has been insanely busy, so mostly I spent the days inside in the air conditioning, except for a couple one block strolls to meetings in other buildings.  But since our house doesn’t have air conditioning, it is much hotter at home than it is at work.  Today when I got home it was 80 degrees on the first floor, and hotter upstairs where our bedroom is.

The kitties are stretched out on the bed looking like they are going to melt.  I feel badly for them, because they are furry and can’t get any more naked than they already are.  But I didn’t feel sorry enough for them to offer them any of my Chehalem 2010 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris.  I wasn’t going to offer Jon any either, but he just took some!

Chehalem 2010 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris

My brain is too hot and tired to work up a very sophisticated review, so this will have to suffice…

The winemaker’s notes say, “from a cool, low-crop vintage, there are exotic tropical fruit, jasmine, pear juice and papaya aromas and flavors, and racy lemon sorbet and spice palate impressions, set on-edge by great acidity and perfectly balanced minor residual sugar. Perfect food wine.”  It got a score of 90 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, if the scores are something that interest you.  On the nose, this wine has a nice, light minerality combined with sweetness.  It tastes of Golden delicious apple and pear.  It is fantastic on it’s own or with food.  In fact the only negative thing I can say is that the bottle is almost empty!

President’s Day Weekend – Part 4 – Wine Burnout and Antiques!

Sunday we started our day at the Lafayette Schoolhouse, which used to be a school, but is now an antique mall.  It was originally built in 1912, so the three story building itself has tons of character.  Jon shopped around inside for a little while, but then went back outside to listen to music in the car.  Which left me to wander around and look at everything, without someone hovering impatiently.  I found a few Howard Pierce figurines, including one little baby quail, that is almost identical to a set of two quail I already have.  Pretty exciting to find a baby that matches and completes the set!  I know my mom was jealous, because every time I tell her that I’m going to the Lafayette Schoolhouse, she tells me how she has never been there.  Someday mom, you’ll just have to come wine tasting with us.  I’ll take you to the schoolhouse!

After I got my antique fix (thanks Jon!), we decided to try out Domaine Drouhin.  We’ve been talking about their wines for ages, and had never been (we tried to go once at Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve – can’t remember which – but they were closed that day).  So it was finally time.  They are located at the top of the hill, with a beautiful view of their vineyards down the hill.  When we arrived, we were immediately wowed by the beautiful architectural details in the tasting room – vaulted ceilings, huge windows looking out on the vineyard, and exposed wood beams.  There were a couple other couples there at that point, and we settled in for our tasting.  They had 3 wines – a Chardonnay and 2 Pinot Noirs.  The Chardonnay was very nice, with a light oak and excellent body.  Their 2009 Pinot seemed very soft to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked it a lot, but it seemed to be a “drink now” wine, rather than one that would last for future drinking.  The 2008 Pinot Noir was more robust and was very enjoyable, but the price was steep at $65.

Domaine Drouhin Oregon

Now, Domaine Drouhin in France was founded by Joseph Drouhin, and his grandson first visited Oregon in the 1960s during a trip to market the French Drouhin wines.  During this trip, he became convinced that Oregon could grow amazing Pinot Noir.  The winery in Oregon opened in the late 1980s, with Joseph Drouhin’s great-granddaughter as the winemaker.  So it was interesting when our server offered us a taste of the Domaine Drouhin French 2009 Pinot Noir.  And we were sold.  For a reasonable $25 a bottle, this wine is excellent!  By this time, the place was filled to the brim with couples on a limo tour, so we made our purchase and ske-daddled before Jon had a nervous breakdown about the crowd!

The view of the Vineyard from Domaine Drouhin Oregon

Our second stop was Argyle Winery – another winery that we have talked about a lot but never visited.  Argyle specializes in sparkling wines and also does some Pinot Noirs.  When we first got there, the place was pretty quiet, but it quickly filled up.  I decided to do the sparkling wine flight, and Jon went with the standard flight, which gives you a mix of regular and sparkling wines.  The result?  I thought that the sparkling wines were very nice, although I definitely preferred the sparkling wines that used Pinot Noir as the base wine, rather than Chardonnay.  And I thought the $25 bottle – the Argyle Brut – was just as good as their $50 bottles.  To top off my tasting they let me try the Black Brut, a 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wine.  I had received an email about it, and was very excited about trying it.  But to be honest, I really wanted to like it more than I did.  It just lacked something – a sweetness I suppose.  Jon wasn’t blown away by any of his wines either, although we did both like the Minus Five Riesling Dessert wine quite a bit.  They did have a beautiful setting though, in a historic farmhouse with a nicely landscaped garden.

Argyle Winery’s Side Entrance and Garden

By this time we were starving for some lunch, so we went across the road to the Red Hills Market.  It is deli style, with tables to eat in and kind of a general store atmosphere where you can buy deli goods and gift items.  Even real Vermont maple syrup!  I had the American coppa pizza, which was only $12 and was big enough to share, and Jon had a mushroom fennel soup.  This. food. is. amazing!  I would be such a market junkie if I lived there!  But we had to get back on the road to continue our tasting tour.

The out-of-this-world Pizza at the Red Hills Market!

Wall-O-Gifts at the Red Hills Market

The next stop was Chehalem.  Always a home run.  Chehalem does all their wines well, and it is always such a treat to visit. I have given the longer review in other posts, so I won’t rehash it here, but one interesting development is that Harry, the winemaker, decided to restyle the Cerise, which has been a blend of 80% Gamay Noir and 20% Pinot Noir.  For the 2010 year forward, it will be a single varietal Gamay Noir.  The new vintage is delicious, but unfortunately, since it uses more Gamay, which they don’t have that much of to begin with, there will be fewer cases available for those cult followers like me.  I’ll have to make sure I stock up….

Then we headed up the hill to August Cellars – a co-op style winery that shares winery space and equipment with other small wineries.  They were tasting their own wines the day we visited, and we were impressed with the lineup.  I liked the Baco Noir, which is a hybrid grape that is planted in small quantities in southern Oregon.  Sadly, the winemaker explained that he doesn’t think he’ll be getting Baco grapes again, so the bottle we bought might be the only one I get.  Oh well, that’s always the challenge, to find the next great wine!

August Cellars

Artisanal Wine Cellars was the last stop on our mega-tour.  We discovered Artisanal Wine Cellars when we visited August Cellars on a previous trip, because Artisanal is one of the wineries in the co-op.  Last year, Artisanal opened their own tasting room in downtown Newberg, and it is open until 7 pm!  As I have written before on this blog, the owner and winemaker is a science guy, and it shows through in his wines.  New wines included a Pinot Blanc (very tasty), and a Tempranillo that Jon really enjoyed.  I love their Gamay Noir Rose, called Evangeline, named for the owner’s daughter, whose middle name is Evangeline.  Artisanal’s first crush was in 2005, so they are a fairly new winery on the scene.  This is a winery that we will continue to visit for a long time to come!  The tasting room is located in a historic building in downtown Newberg, and the staff are friendly and chatty.  I also spent a bit of time talking to another customer who has visited the Okanogan Valley in BC, so he gave us some recommendations on wineries to visit up in that neck of the woods.  Too many trips, too little time!

At this point, we had reached major wine burnout, so we had dinner and went back to our room to enjoy some quiet time.  Jon fell asleep early again, and I stayed up watching TV.  Unfortunately, there was a trucker catching some ZZZs at the hotel, and his refrigerator semi was outside my window.  Those suckers are loud!  When he finally left sometime about 3 am, I was finally able to get some rest.

The last day of our trip we got up and moving slowly, sleeping in until almost 9.  It was nice.  We stopped in briefly at the Factory Outlet Mall, and did a little shopping before we had to head on our way.

A stop to visit Jon’s friend from high school took us to the Hedge House, a restaurant owned by the Lompoc Brewing Company.  It’s in an old house that has been converted to a restaurant, and they really want to make it a gathering spot for the locals – they have open mic poetry and other special events in the evenings.  It seems like a neat place to have in your neighborhood.  I hadn’t heard of Lompoc beer, but I was pleased with the Condor Ale that I had.  And their PABST sandwich really hit the spot.  And no, that’s not a beer sandwich – PABST stands for Provolone, Avocado, Bacon, Salad Greens and Tomato.  YUM – a million times better than Pabst beer!

Hedge House Restaurant in Portland

After a too short visit, it was time to get on the road, and brave the traffic towards home.  Can’t wait until next time!

Inspections, Inspections, So Many Inspections!

We are working through the minor issues that the inspection revealed on our current home. We spent the weekend doing some work and hopefully will be able to wrap up all of our fixes within the next few days, at nominal expense. The stress of it all will hopefully go away then, and I can get my life back! Because we spent our weekend working on the house and really not having any time to ourselves. I can’t wait until this is all over.

On the home that we are buying, the required fix is a bit more extensive, so we don’t know yet what’s happening there… Our seller is still deciding whether she wants to try to tackle the repairs. She has a couple more days to respond.

I suppose I should look on the bright side. Since undertaking this home selling and buying project, I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about roof crickets, plumbing, how to install a deck, and current building codes. And I learned that I don’t ever want to do any of that work for a living. I like my cushy desk job. And I suppose I should quit complaining that they blast the air-conditioning and make my office too cold, because I could be spending my days under houses, in the middle of winter, or in the heat of summer. It bears mentioning that crawlspaces are NOT good for my asthma… or my claustrophobia.

Meanwhile, our wine shipment from Chehalem is due to arrive fairly soon. Can’t wait! That gives me something to look forward to, even if most of our time is spent dealing with homes and home fixes… Something about Chehalem wine to soothe the soul! Of course, it does make me regret that we haven’t had the time to head down to the Willamette Valley lately. Since we decided we were going to try to get our house on the market and get a new one, pretty much every waking moment has been dedicated to it. And many of my non-waking moments too, worrying about every possible thing that could go wrong and all the contingencies…

So when our shipment arrives, I’m going to try to set all house drama aside, for just a little while, as I ponder which bottle I want to open. Ahhh…

Chehalem – Pickle in a Glass

Author’s Note:  I actually meant to title this post “Heaven in a Glass,” but I was talking about pickles, I’m tired, and obviously, my brain has shut down for the night.   Now that it’s there, I think it’s kind of catchy.  Do not take this title to mean that Chehalem’s wines are bad.  They are my absolute, favorite wines.

It is finally sunny again. Today at lunch, I sat outside on a bench in front of the office and read a book. It was beautiful out, but it was a bit windy. I had to wear my extra sweater, and I had to brush my hair when I came back inside. But I’m certainly willing to deal with a little bit of wind for the sun! It has been so scarce lately, we really have to take advantage of it when we see it.

The other night, we tried a recently released 2009 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir from Chehalem Winery. Jon did some research about the vintage and the weather that existed in 2009. In the Willamette Valley, there was ideal springtime weather and a hot summer that combined to give an excellent harvest of fruit that could be picked at the ideal time. And it seems to have worked for Chehalem.

I find that many of the Pinots have a pickle nose (don’t worry, it isn’t a bad thing!), meaning that when I smell the wine, I smell that distinct smell of pickle. I have always found this odd, because I never read in reviews that other people think Pinot Noirs smell like pickle. Of course, it could be that there is a belief that having your wine smell like pickle could turn people away, and so it’s very hush hush. So, you heard it here friends, whether it’s just my smeller, or there’s an international conspiracy to cover up the truth, in my world, Pinot Noir smells like pickle. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t taste like pickle! But I’ve digressed.

I found this Pinot to be very robust. Not quite as robust as the 2006 vintage, but more so than the 2008 Pinots. Jon is really going to enjoy the Pinots coming out this year. I think Jon always secretly hopes that I will find a wine too strong for my taste – that way he can have it all. Unfortunately for him, I really enjoyed this wine. It is more robust than other Pinot vintages, but it is a well balanced wine with all the great Pinot Noir characteristics. Robust for a Pinot is something much softer than the typical varietal wines that come out of Washington – the Cabernets, Syrahs and Merlots. Pinot is the red wine that I can consistently enjoy! This was the first 2009 Pinot Noir that we have tried, and I think that this is going to be a great vintage. I can’t wait to do more sampling!

Ahhh… Chehalem…

The other night, Jon, Jon’s mom and I split a bottle of the Chehalem Ian’s Reserve Riesling. We got our wine club shipment from Chehalem a couple of weeks ago, and this was included in the package. We had sampled the Riesling before, but I’m not sure that we had ever had the Reserve Riesling. Wow. It is a nice crisp apple Riesling, sweet but not overly sugary, a nice balance that Jon and I both enjoyed. I had mine with clam strips and chips, and to be honest, I started out with a bottle of beer, thinking that the wine would be too sweet for the food. However, when I had a glass of the Riesling, it was a great accompaniment to the vinegar on the fish and chips. It offset the tartness of the vinegar nicely. Jon had his with a grilled halibut topped with avocado. Linda drank hers with Chow Mein (can you tell we got takeout?) Anyway, my point is, the Riesling went well with all three dishes, and we were quite pleased with it. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a nice sunny day with dinner on the patio. Of course, I’ve given up on this spring giving me any warmth at all.