Chehalem Stoller Vineyard Pinot Noir Oregon Willamette Valley 2010
2012 - 2022
From ungrafted Pommard and Wadenswil vines, the Chehalem 2010 Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard smells both of myriad fresh red berries and raw red meat. Tartness of rhubarb; nutty, bitter crunch of lentil sprouts; and a marine alliance of salinity and alkalinity serve for invigoration and fascination on a polished, incipiently silken palate. Long and mouthwatering, this ought to be fascinating to follow over the better part of a decade. The affable, insightful, and tireless advocate of Willamette Valley viticulture, ex-chemist Harry Peterson-Nedry planted Ridgecrest Vineyards – the path-breaking viticultural incursion on Ribbon Ridge – in 1980, bottling his first estate wine a decade later. In 1993, Bill and Cathy Stoller became partners with Peterson-Nedry and planted their own vineyard in the Dundee Hills. In 1995, Peterson-Nedry purchased from friends – and subsequently re-grafted a significant portion of – Corral Creek Vineyards on the side of Parrett Mountain, where the present utilitarian winery is located, and since then, another slice of Ribbon Ridge contiguous with Ridgecrest, dubbed Wind Ridge, has come into production. Peterson-Nedry has been an eloquent proponent of Willamette Valley white wines, as well as of a style of Pinot designed to capture bright fruit, what he calls “fine-boned structure,” and elegance, and avoid any heavy or cosmetic impression; though in 2011 (which I tasted from barrel) and 2010, it strikes me that this vision has occasionally been followed to a fault, and many tasters might welcome in some of these wines a bit more flesh and fat; slightly better-buffered tartness; or a bit more depth. Peterson-Nedry is unafraid to chaptalize and notes that “we are strong believers in making sure that we have pHs and total acidities that are appropriate,” which, for example, meant most 2009s and certain lots from 2010 were acidified. “We’re not afraid of acid,” he says, driving home the point, “We have an acid style.” The fruit is generally destemmed and given a week (at times closer to two weeks) of cold soak. Fermentation is spontaneous and in a wide range of vessels, including some wooden uprights, with both punch-downs and pump-overs, though both sparingly. The young wine is settled for 2-4 days before going to barrels, not more – and usually less – than 30% of which are new, for typically 10-11 months. Since 2008, bottling has been exclusively with screwcap, with which Peterson-Nedry says he has been conducting trials since 1994. After pursuing an unrelated scientific career, Peterson-Nedry’s daughter Wynne took an oenology degree at U.C. Davis in 2008 and has found her way via New Zealand, Burgundy, and California back home to Chehalem where she recently assumed winemaking responsibility from her father’s decade-long right-hand Mike Eyres, who will be returning to his native New Zealand.