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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Entries in Chehalem (4)

Tuesday
Feb222011

Behind the Wine: Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem

There's a rustic old house on Chehalem's Corral Creek Vineyard, just north of 99W in Newberg, Oregon, tucked behind the crush pad and perched on the edge of Riesling and Pinot Gris vines, where I stayed on my visit to the Pacific Northwest last fall. It's the house where owner and winemaker Harry Peterson-Nedry has lived for the last 13 years, though now it's also home to harvest interns from as far away as New Zealand through crush, and it's full of its owner's warmth and hospitality, a wide collection of wine glasses and a big, long wood dining table perfect for big meals and tasting parties.

I was a fan of Chehalem's wines (pronounced shu-hay-lem) long before I visited the winery, always impressed with the sheer verve and complexity from the range, from their entry-level Pinot Noir on up through the single vineyard wines. But it wasn't until I met Harry, a quick-to-smile North Carolina native who still speaks with a gentle southern twang, that I realized the wines were not just Oregonian in style, but very Harry, too--thoughtful and generous, but not in your face.

Watch our video interview with Harry Peterson-Nedry, then read on to learn more about the man, the winery and which wines we currently have in stock.

A special thank you to my friend Karen Petersen, who helped me film this and a number of other videos while I was in Oregon.

Harry is one of the linchpins of Oregon wine, planting the 55-acre Ridgecrest Vineyard back in 1980, the first vineyard developed in the newly-designated Ribbon Ridge AVA. Partnering with Bill and Cathy Stoller in 1990, he started Chehalem and began expanding his vineyard holdings not long after, adding Corral Creek and Bill and Cathy's 175-acre Stoller Vineyards in the Dundee Hills to the portfolio. The different soils and microclimates at each vineyard create Pinot Noirs with distinctive characterisitics--from the big, briary, black-fruited style of the Willakenzie soils found at Ridgecrest to the softer, rounder red-fruited wines from the Jory and Nekia soils at Stoller to the brighter, red-fruited, more tannic wines from the Laurelwood soils at Corral Creek. 

But Pinot Noir isn't Chehalem's only game. In fact, Harry has represented Oregon in the International Pinot Gris Symposium in Germany, is one of the founders of the Oregon Chardonnay Alliance (ORCA) and is a passionate advocate for Oregon Riesling. He says he gets bored easily, which is why you'll also find Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner and Gamay Noir wines from Chehalem properties, to keep it interesting. (The winery's 2007 "Cerise" a Burgundian passetoutgrains blend of Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir,which is sold out here, was easy-drinking and fun, filled with tangy cranberry and sweet strawberry aromas and flavors.) As a consumer, one of the best things about Chehalem's wines is that they are affordable AND good, allowing you to try a wide variety from the winery without breaking the bank.

SHOP

K&L currently has the following Chehalem wines in stock:

2008 Chehalem "3 Vineyards" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (375ml $14.99; 750ml $24.99) From the region's defining vintage so far, this has lovely aromas of ripe red and black fruit, forest floor, bacon and violet, and a polished, fresh palate with plenty of secondary notes underneath, if you can hold onto it long enough to let it evolve.

2009 Chehalem "3 Vineyards" Willamette Valley Pinot Gris ($16.99) No innocuous, flavorless white wine, this. Chehalem's Pinot Gris has honeysuckle, mango and passion fruit character galore, built on a bed of slate-y minerality. Juicy, bold and broad.

2009 Chehalem "Reserve" Willamette Valley Dry Riesling ($19.99) The great unsung varietal of the Pacific Northwest, this dry Riesling has lovely lemon marmalade qualities with surprising hints of Ranier cherry to complement the stone fruit and spice. Great acidity and weight. As one of my favorite varietals when aged, I'm looking forward to seeing how this evolves.

2008 Chehalem "Inox" Willamette Valley Chardonnay ($15.99) A figgy, flinty, crisp Chardonnay that easily demonstrates the varietal's potential in the Northwest, now that earlier-ripening Dijon clones have made their way there. I'd easily drink this in place of Chablis.

2007 Chehalem "Ian's Reserve" Stoller Vineyards Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($29.99) A more unctuous, pear and apple-flavored style of Chardonnay, spiked with baking spice and creamy at the core, the Ian's still has the acid backbone that so many wines in this style lack. 

2009 Chehalem "Wind Ridge Vineyard" Ribbon Ridge Grüner Veltliner ($18.99) Staving off boredom for Harry is awfully tasty for the rest of us. This is the second vintage of Grüner from Chehalem and it's spicy, dry, minerally and fun. I love all the white pepper and ginger notes, which complement quince and muskmelon character like a pillbox hat complements a Chanel suit.

LEARN

Read our Q&A with Harry Peterson-Nedry from last March.

Visit the winery's website.

Visit the winery's tasting room in downtown Newberg, Oregon. 

Leah Greenstein

Tuesday
Sep282010

Pre-Harvest Report: Willamette Valley 2010

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you might recall seeing some pleas for "no rain" or "sunshine" dances over the past few weeks. That's because I was up in Oregon interview winemakers for this blog, spending everyday looking at and tasting from the carefully tended clusters of Pinot Noir from some of our favorite wineries - Westrey, McKinlay, Chehalem and Bethel Heights - among others. And it seemed to me, what they all needed was just a few more weeks of mostly dry weather and partial sunshine to maximize their potential.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun302010

'Cuing Up: Wines for the 4th of July

I'm always looking for an excuse to invite friends over for a cookout, and there's no better one than living a bike-ride's distance from the beach on the Fourth of July. I'm also fortunate to know there are a wealth of wines, at every price point, to go with anything you can throw at the 'cue--from Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip to American Bison sliders (try them with carmelized onions and smoked tomato compote), or, if you live around the Chesapeake, steamed Maryland Blue Crabs doused with Old Bay. Here are some of our favorite domestic wines--we are celebrating American Independence after all--to make any Fourth crackle like a Roman candle.

If you're leaning toward the crab and Old Bay scenario, you need a sparkler of a wine, not necessarily something bubbly, and definitely or weighed down by butter notes or oak. The 2008 Dry Creek Vineyard Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($9.99) blends lemon, apricot and nectarine notes with acidity that sings like the high notes in the National Anthem. Now, if you've steered clear of Chenin Blanc because you think it's sweet, hear me out: THIS IS DRY. There is nothing sweet about this wine, unless you're using the word as a slangy compliment.

If you're 4th is likely to be a "session" celebration, then it's probably a good idea to have some lighter-style beers on hand. The Maui Brewing Company "Bikini Blonde Lager" ($1.83 each) comes in convenient cans that can get tucked in a bag and cooled in the river or lake while you're getting your grill on. If you want something hoppier but that won't put you to sleep, try the Russian River Brewing "Blind Pig" IPA (500ml $4.30) or the aptly named Anchor Brewing "Liberty Ale" ($1.49).

Whole Rainbow Trout stuffed with lemon and rosemary come out fantastic on the grill, and the 2008 Chehalem "Inox" Willamette Valley Chardonnay ($15.99), with its Adriatic fig, lime and saturn peach-like fruit, and completely crisp palate feel, your fish will sing like that silly wall-mounted fish that appears in too many summer cabins. This would also go quite well with grilled veggies!

2007 Kunin "Westside" Paso Robles Zinfandel ($21.99) Paso Robles may not exactly be the "heart" of Santa Maria-style barbecue country, but it's definitely a ventricular valve. So it comes as no surprise that Seth Kunin's "Westside" Zin (actually, all of Kunin's reds) pairs perfectly with the garlicky, smoky meat, the fresh salsa and the pinquito beans. The Westside comes from the Cushman and Rancho Santa Margarita vieyards and is aged for 10 months in a combination of French and American oak, and it is spicy and rich, with plenty of bright red fruit and actual acidity (believe it) that will stand up to those thick slabs of tri-tip.

If you've never had a bottle of Ridge's classic "Geyserville," then you've been missing out on a quintessential California wine, as American as football or apple pie, but possibly better than both. The 2008 "Geyserville" ($29.99) is comprised of Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Mataro. It has a complexity that few varietal wines can offer, with briar fruits, tangy cranberry, spicy white pepper and an undercurrent of black olives on the nose that evolve into mocha, licorice and black raspberry in the mouth. Try will pair with the aforementioned Bison sliders, ribs, ribeyes, pork tenderloin or any number of other savory treats you lay in its path. If you're having a big party, try a BIG bottle, like the 2004 vintage in magnum ($74.99) or three-liter ($189.00).

I love Zuni- Cafe style roasted chicken (I do mine on a cast iron vertical roaster on the grill) and tomatoey panzanella with a juicy Syrah--it's actual my go-to Sunday supper--and I don't like to spend a lot on the wine that goes with it. Fortunately, some of my favorite Central Coast winemakers turn out lovely, balanced Syrahs that don't overpower the simply prepared bird or my wallet. The 2007 and 2008 Hocus Pocus Santa Barbara County Syrahs ($17.99) are a case in point, as is Wells Guthrie's "I-can't-believe-it's-entry-level" 2007 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Mendocino County Syrah ($17.99), which has brambly fruit, hints of smoke and a touch of dark chocolate to boot.

The 2008 Charles Smith "The Velvet Devil" Washington Merlot ($11.99), from Food & Wine Magazine's 2009 Winemaker of the year, could, single-handedly, change the way you've come to think about Merlot because it's anything but over-priced or over-produced. Juicy, plummy, from a state named for our inimitable first president and a good match for burgers and sausages.

Whatever you drink: Happy 4th of July! Be safe and have fun!

Leah Greenstein