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2016 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay

2016 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay
2016 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay

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. Rising above the low, flat floors of the surrounding Willamette and Chehalem Valleys, the Dundee Hills offer spectacular views, including Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson's majestic snowy peaks.

Wine history: Winemaker David Lett planted the first Pinot noir in the Dundee Hills in 1965, naming it The Eyrie Vineyard. Soon after, Dick Erath, the Sokol Blosser family and other winemakers cleared south-facing slopes to plant many of Oregon's first vineyards. They whole-heartedly believed this area would one day be an important cool-climate wine-growing region. It didn't take long for the world to discover Dundee Hills and Oregon - after the relatively unknown Eyrie Pinot noir placed among the top three wines in the 1979 Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, beating out more famous French labels. Today, the area remains home to many of Oregon's modern pioneer winemakers who continue to successfully grow and make premium wine. The appellation was approved in November 2005.

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.

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.

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, lesser varieties. This is a mostly south facing site that is adjacent to Domaine Drouhin, De Ponte and Sokol Blosser. To give some perspective on how fertile and life-sustaining the soil is in the Dundee Hills there is also a successful olive orchard planted on the property from which the Durants make some pretty damn good olive oil.

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. The fruit is from an upper section of the vineyard planted to Dijon Clone 95 in 1995. This was harvested on September 9th and represents the first fruit we picked in 2015. Pressed into four neutral barrels and one new puncheon (double barrel) and inoculated with three separate yeast strains the juice quickly became wine. The barrels were battonaged (stirred) one time per week for about six months until malolactic fermentation was stopped about half way through its progress. It then aged another six months in barrel and was bottled this past September.

This has a terrific combination of richness, texture, fruit and acidity. The aromatics combine golden delicious apples, waffles and a light nutty character. The wine definitely has a density of texture but it is nicely cut with bright acidity making it serious and deft all at the same time. Currently there doesn’t seem to be any “signature style” to the new thinking of Oregon Chardonnay but many producers are shooting for something in a Chablis-like genre. Most assuredly this is not that. However, it is not heavy handed or cloying. We think this is a really, really lovely first effort that is immensely enjoyable and (we think) should do well over a decent period of years. We think you won’t want to wait on it though.

Production:140 cases bottled.

Vintage2015
VarietalChardonnay
AppellationDundee Hills
VineyardDurant
Alcohol13.40%
Volume750 ml
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Price $42.00 / per bottle
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