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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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All tastings will feature different products from the Spirits Department and take place on Wednesdays in Redwood City and San Francisco. Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

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Entries in Willamette Valley (13)

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

Thursday
Dec302010

Winemaker Interview: Amy Wesselman of Westrey Wine Company

Amy Wesselman among the vines at Oracle Vineyard.

Name: Amy Wesselman

Winery: Westrey Wine Company

Number of years in business: 18

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

We focus on crafting elegant Pinot Noir wines, fruit-driven Burgundian-style Chardonnay and crisp, refreshing Pinot Gris. The wines are designed to be balanced and age-worthy, always complementing and enlivening the food with which they are served.

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac, Jean-Pierre de Smet of Domaine de l’Arlot, David Lett of the Eyrie Vineyards and Terry Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyards.

How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?

We farm 22 acres on our own property at Oracle Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Nonetheless, it is the Abbey Ridge Pinot Noir, grown by Bill and Julia Wayne next door to us that wows me year after year. They planted their vineyard in 1977, and there’s just no way to replace the complexity and depth of old vine material. Only seven acres at Oracle were planted in 1977, and we are very lucky to have those in our quiver, but most of our vineyard has been planted since we acquired the property in 2000.

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

I have always enjoyed wines that allow the fruit to show through first and foremost. Especially now that I farm myself, it is always compelling to try and capture the essence of what you have worked so hard to grow into the form [of] a bottle. One thing I will always remember and continue to apply in my winemaking is a piece of very good advice from Jacques Seysses during the year we interned in Burgundy: if Pinot Noir is not balanced when you bottle it, it will never be balanced. He was all about building structure and balance into Pinot Noir and letting the natural fruit flavor hang on that strong and balanced frame.

What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

There’s nothing like a “lambsicle” (as my kids call rack of lamb) to go with Pinot Noir.

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?

I’m pretty much a stick in the mud when it comes to the Burgundian varieties and techniques. I don’t foresee us planting any Tempranillo unless my seven-year-old twins have something up their sleeves.

Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your favorite style? How do you deal with it?

For sure. It’s frighteningly common to see winemakers chasing after scores, both here and in Europe. We’re not about making big, extracted, alcoholic Pinots, though that style is what stands out in a line up at a blind tasting. That’s why we generally don’t send our wines off to the critics for scoring.

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

Other Oregon wines are fun to enjoy, but I’m personally a big Rhône hound and I love Spanish wines.

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

We do have lots of wine in our “cellar”—that’s using the term loosely…it’s really just a big pile in the corner of our warehouse. There’s lots of Burgundy, Rhône, Oregon, Champagne, Spanish, Riesling and old Eyrie wines.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry ?

Well, the recession has been hard on everyone, but we’ve always tried to keep our pricing fair, and I think that has helped us. The 2010 vintage was very small, but quality is very high. I think that will help people catch up on selling through vintages.

For more on Westrey Wine Company, check out our recent video interview with Amy on YouTube.

 

Tuesday
Dec212010

Winemaker Interview: Matt Kinne, McKinlay Cellars (Video)

It might just be the beard, but I actually think there's something in the slow, lyrical way that McKinlay owner Matt Kinne talks--like plucking strings on a mandolin--that reminds me of bluegrass impresario Dave Grisman. I caught up with Kinne in mid-September, during the tenuous, rainy days before the 2010 harvest at his home and vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and we talked about his winemaking philosophy and tasted his soon-to-be-bottled 2009s.

Established in 1987 after two years working with the team at legendary Pinot and Chardonnay producer Hanzell, Kinne started off sourcing about half his fruit from around the Willamette Valley. These days the winery is an all-estate, Pinot-only operation using fruit from nearly 30 acres of of vines planted to jory and nekiah soils just outside the town of Newberg. Happy at home with his wife Holly, and helped by one of his two grown sons, Kinne is a reluctant businessman, more at ease with his two good-natured pitbulls in the dark cellar beneath his house than out on the road selling wine. Fortunately, we're big fans of what he does, which makes it an easy job for us. And though it's been a few months since the trip, I've finally gotten the opportunity to edit down the hour and a half of video to give you a sneak peek into the life of one of our favorite winemakers. The timing couldn't be better, either. Kinne just released McKinlay's 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($16.99) and it's both affordable and fantastic, full of beautiful dark cherry fruit and subtle spice, with chalky minerality etched in around the edges. Enjoy the video and the wine!

 

Leah Greenstein