2018 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay
94 Points ~ Wine Enthusiast *Editors' Choice
Location: Dundee Hills is a sub-appellation within the Willamette Valley located 28 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.
Climate: The Dundee Hills area is effectively an island protected from great climatic variations by surrounding geographic features. The Coast Range to the west lessens the effects of the Pacific Ocean's heavy rains and windstorms, and causes a rain shadow over the Dundee Hills area, resulting in just 30 to 45 inches of annual precipitation, most of which falls in the winter months outside of the growing season. Because of their slope and elevation, Dundee Hills vineyards benefit from warmer nights and less frost and fog than the adjacent valley floors.
Soils: Dundee Hills is known for its rich, red volcanic Jory soil, which was formed from ancient volcanic basalt and consists of silt, clay and loam soils. They typically reach a depth of 4 to 6 feet and provide excellent drainage for superior quality wine grapes.
Topography: The Dundee Hills viticultural region consists of a single, continuous landmass that rises above the surrounding Willamette Valley floors and is defined by the 200-foot contour line to the AVA's highest peak of 1,067 feet. The area comprises a north-south spine with ridges, as well as small valleys on its east, south and west sides. Dundee Hills is part of a North Willamette Valley hill chain that developed as a result of intense volcanic activity and the collision of the Pacific and North American plates. Dundee Hills is typically volcanic over sedimentary sandstone.
Site Characteristics:Durant Vineyard is, by any measure, one of the pioneer vineyards in Oregon. The site was established and first planted in 1973 by the same family that owns and farms it to this day. Set on Breyman Orchard Rd. at the southern end of the Dundee Hills the vineyard covers about 60 acres in size with a wide range of elevation topping out at about 600’ and several different plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varieties. This is a mostly south facing site that is adjacent to Domaine Drouhin, De Ponte and Sokol Blosser.
Wine Making and Notes:We were able to source fruit from one of our favorite Dundee Hill vineyards with which we have enjoyed a nice, long relationship. We basically dipped a toe into the water in 2015 as we only purchased 2.5 tons of grapes, basically enough to fill six barrels. There has been a sharp learning curve in our Chardonnay production, which shows in the 2017 vintage. Two things have really come into play that have moved this wine in a direction that is a noticeable upgrade in the wine as well as creating a style with which we can be identified. First, we are making much earlier picking decisions than in the previous two years and second the use of concrete tanks as fermenting vessels. We want our Chardonnay to have enough fruit, but we want it to be very lightly balanced on the acidity that keeps it fresh, bright, clean and leaning toward more citrus-y fruits.
The fermentation in concrete is a huge key to this wine’s texture and the manner in which it presents the flavors. The concrete tanks produce a more even and cooler type of ferment allowing the fruit to be drawn out of the grapes slowly. Also since the wood is not involved until elevage begins there is less of an oak character both in the flavor and the texture of the wine. Therefore this wine has incredible brightness of fruit and acid as well as a crystalline sort of character that gives it focus, sharpness and length. We hope you have enjoyed the Chardonnay project to date and continue to follow us on this journey!
Production: 294 cases bottled.