Willamette Valley Chardonnay

This neutral oak aged Chardonnay is a real sleeper. Fruit aromas of crisp granny smith apple, Anjou pear, and cantaloupe lead the nose, following on the palate with a delicate autolytic yeasty character, honeyed poached pear and blanched almond notes. The wine finishes on a harmonious streak of clean, mineral laden acidity keeping it lively and focused.

Winemaker's Production Notes

2011 was the coolest growing season since 1954, including a greatly truncated Indian summer. The first 15 days of October brought some form of cold and precipitation. October 17-27 saved the day with mostly dry days and one day reached a high of 76. This late in the season, vines tend to really respond to sun and heat. The wines turned out beautiful, perfumed, and have surprising depth and finish to them. Late season ripening seems to produce wine with leap out of the glass aromatics. This was one of the most challenging vintages ever. We pressed off the last red wine on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving! Imagine an exhausted, motley, yet grateful harvest crew gathered around the smoked turkey on Thursday. This Thanksgiving was truly something to be grateful for!

Wine Production Stats

Varietals: 100% Oregon Chardonnay, Dijon clone
Vineyards: Knudsen Vineyards, Stoller Vineyard, and Lone Star Vineyard
AVA: Willamette Valley
Alcohol: 12.5%
Cases Produced: 1,830
Winemakers: Rollin Soles and Andrew Davis

Rollin Soles' 2010 Vintage Notes

I still reckon we did everything right this year given what Mother Nature had to throw our way. Remember the basic scenario is that she did not give us enough sunlight and heat to ripen our grapes (even for sparkling!). So we really had to accurately estimate our crop, and drop tons of fruit onto the ground, so that what sunlight and heat we did get, went into just a few clusters of berries. Then, insult to injury, she threw rain and migratory birds at us to further challenge and reduce our crop. Rain can bring devastating molds, and split berries. The birds were unreal. Oregonians are still reeling from the onslaught of robins and cedar waxwings. (I for one blasted two cases of target load shells into the vines and flocks!)

Working from the most general facts to the specific, we shifted our emphasis on red wine to Lone Star as it had the best chance to get enough ripeness. Low elevation and very thin soils lend themselves to earlier ripening than higher elevation and deeper soils like that of Knudsen Vineyards.

Therefore, sparkling fruit was derived from Knudsen vineyards. We also purchased some sparkling fruit from outside our own farming to augment downturn in crops and to bridge our production up slowly over time while we wait for Spirithill to come into normal crop loads.

We had to look VERY carefully at our sparkling juices this year and determine if there was anything we needed to do to them before fermenting them. This meant a heck of a lot of extra work and has slowed our yeasting program. At this writing, we have just inoculated our first round of sparkling juices and the cellar smells wonderful of that yeasty, fruit driven aromas! The sparkling wines made from this vintage will be SPECTACULAR.

Moving with Mother Nature, in cool growing seasons we make more sparkling wine and it always turns out to be fantastic.

As I mentioned in earlier missives, Argyle had to wait and wait to capture as much sunlight and heat as possible for ALL our vineyards whether sparkling or still wines. It's impossible to harvest and process all our 800+ tons in one day, even though this would have been the best thing. But, like last year, Argyle is now set up better than any winery in Oregon to harvest and process without compromise a heck of a lot of fruit in one day. We harvested and collapsed more grapes and winemaking per day than ever in Argyle's history this year. "Wait, wait, then spank it!"

For reds, Lone Star vineyards is turning out some really amazingly great wines. Knudsen vineyards looks like it'll have a couple of winners. Stoller vineyard is going to make our Willamette level red a rock star.

We were able to do very long cold soaks for all our reds this year. This was a critically huge advantage to our competitors. We were able to extract all the color and goodness from the Pinot noir berry's skins without over extracting hard seed tannins. Then we were able due to added space to "wait, wait, then spank it" in our red wine pressing. Today we have a few red wine lots left, but this entire week was absolutely crazy with very long hours, and lots of hand wringing over how to get the different red wine lots pressed at their peak of perfection. If you bring it in all at one time, then you're going to have to press it off skins and seeds all at one time!

The summary is that we have an abundance of Prestige level red wines for the tough 2010! This wealth of riches is due to great execution in the vineyard and winery by our teams. We plan to barrel ferment a larger proportion of our sparkling wine lots to further complex them. This is like the "icing" on a great sparkling wine vintage.

All our Oregon buddies are looking tired, so we're not alone. This will be one of those "survivor" growing seasons, that everyone will look back upon with great stories and memories. No PTVD here (post-traumatic vintage disorder).

New release wine - reviews pending.