Wine for a campfire’s night: 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir

At a work dinner recently, we ordered a bottle of wine for our table. Being the most junior person, I of course didn’t have any say in the selection, so it was like a single blind tasting. It was a fun challenge, and I delighted in it, firstly because I guessed it right on my initial try, and secondly because it’s one of my favorite grapes and regions. Yep, it was a young Pinot Noir from Oregon. The recently released 2005 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, with a suggested retail price of $27.

A beautiful deep red color, it had a slight smoldering, wet wood and earth sort of smell that I associate with a cool fall night in front of a campfire. The wine tasted full in my mouth, with smooth tannins, bright cherry and blackberries, with an almost sweet aftertaste that lingered pleasantly.


From Chahelm Winery:

The Wine
This is our most widely distributed and earliest available Pinot Noir. It is a wine blended from all of our vineyards and bottled before the single-vineyard and reserve wines. The complementary nature of the lots that go into this blend is obvious in its full, early integration and its occasionally being considered superior to single vineyard wines. ALL Pinots are made with the same care, receive the same oak, are from the same estate vineyards, etc. — the 3 Vineyard represents the very populist notion that egos and individuality may elevate some brothers and sisters, but the rest of us together are just as wise and powerful, sometimes even moreso. Beginning in 2003, with the reduction of single-vineyard bottling production quantities, barrels of single-vineyard quality are now returned to the 3 Vineyard blend for even greater complexity.

The Vineyards
Fruit and the name come from our three Estate Vineyards: Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek, blended into a fully-complemented wine. The estate vineyards are planted on three different soil types, which provide complementary elements in resulting wines, especially Pinot noir: Ridgecrest on Willakenzie, Stoller on Jory, and Corral Creek on Laurelwood. The excellence and distinctiveness of single vineyards can be seen in vineyard designated labels for these vineyards. However, the wisdom of complementary blends, with their consistency and fullness of character is very often seen in 3 Vineyard.

The Vintage
2005 was an old-style Oregon vintage, warming the cockles of the hearts of industry old folks like me as much as the coffee we drank. Cooler and damper than the average modern vintage, mature winemakers and mature vineyards understood and adjusted to the weather, giving the grapes a chance to fully ripen and working magic to assure clean fruit. Experience should show with our three classic estate vineyards. Great extraction, great acid, lower alcohols (no Pinots above the 13%s!) — expect wines of finesse and ageability.

Harvest Data:
Harvested 10/05 to 10/21/2005 (approximately 60% Stoller, 22% Corral Creek, and 18% Ridgecrest); from 2.25 tons per acre cropload

10-18 days total fermentation with 6-10 days pre-maceration

10 months in 32% new, 29% one-use, and 39% multiple-use French oak barrels

Wine Selection:
Selected barrels from most fermentation lots, after reserve level selections

Bottled 9/21/2006 with DE filtration

Wine Selection:
Selected barrels from most fermentation lots, after reserve-level selections

Bottling Analyses:
13.2% alcohol, 5.6 g/L TA, 3.71 pH

Cases Produced:

Suggested Retail:

Winemaker’s Comments
Smoky, dark, and filled with firm, tightly packed fruit in a leaner style than the recent hot vintages. It is moderately garnet and polished in appearance, and shows savory and huckleberry aromas, a firmness of fine tannin, good acid structure, and a suppleness that finishes moderately long with dustiness and earth. Expect it to continue to flesh out with time in the bottle, taking awhile as with other cooler vintages like 1993, 1995, 1997, and 2001.


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