Chehalem Inox Chardonnay 2018, Willamette Valley
Chehalem Pinot Gris, 2018, Willamette Valley
It seems like everyone knows about Oregon as a great pinot noir producer. Some of their wines even rival the great Burgundies.
While the pinot noirs are memorable, many people forget about the great white wine produced there. I am particularly fond of their chardonnay and pinot gris, but you should also look for roussanne, riesling, grüner veltliner and viognier from Oregon.
While they are known for single-vineyard pinot noir, the wineries in the Stoller Wine Group really distinguish themselves with their white wine production. At Chehalem
(chuh-HAY-lum) Winery, which has been producing wine since 1990, my two favorites are pinot gris and Inox chardonnay.
If you like white wine, but get tired of heavy, oaky chardonnays these two wines are perfect introductions to unoaked wines. Stainless steel fermentation keeps the flavors fresh and bright, perfect for summer sipping or pairing with light meals.
I loved the pinot gris, which has become Oregon’s signature white wine. The Chehalem has layers of complex fruit balanced by acidity and minerality.
It opens with fresh aromas of stone fruit and ripe pear. This is a round and balanced wine, with flavors of pear, citrus and peach. There is a wonderful weight and mouthfeel to this wine that makes it memorable.
The variety of soil types across the region provide depth and complexity, with grapes sourced from six different vineyards. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in the tanks on the lees for 3-4 months. The 2018 year was considered a classic vintage, producing wines of depth and complexity.
The Inox name on the chardonnay comes from inoxydable, the French word for stainless steel. This unoaked chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel, which brings out the full range of Willamette Valley fruit.
Sourced from two estate vineyards, this is no fruit bomb, but has rich fruit flavors. It is a pale golden yellow in the glass with beautiful citrus, melon and green apple aromas. It has a vibrant palate, with citrus, pear, stone fruit and a good dose of minerals.
The grapes come from two estate vineyards and were fermented in stainless steel, then aged five months in steel tanks.
The winery brought out new labels for this vintage, and they look much classier than previous labels. Each label features a stylized crest representing a valley of flowers, the native Calapooia translation of the word Chehalem. The drawing also seems to show rows of grapevines. Altogether it is a clean, classic label with key information easy to find.
Chehalem also makes a great rosé of pinot noir that has rich fruit flavor, full of red grapefruit, pomegranate and rose petals.
Winery: Henry Peterson-Nedry bought his first land in the early 1980s and planted Ridgecrest Vineyards in the spectacular soil of Ribbon Ridge. He founded Chehalem Winery in 1990 and released his first wine, Ridgecrest Pinot Noir.
He was one of the first to plant grapevines in the Willamette Valley and soon many others followed.
Harry’s friend Bill Stoller joined the winery operation in 1993 and later planted his own vineyard on family farmlands at the southern end of Dundee Hills before founding Stoller Family Estate, which now has 210 acres of vineyards. It is the largest contiguous vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA.
In 1995 Chehalem had its third estate vineyard when it purchased Corral Creek, in the valley surrounding the winery. It has 32 acres under vine. In 2008 the vineyards and winery became certified sustainable by LIVE, a group that supports environmentally and socially responsible wine growing.
In 2009 second-generation winemaker, Wynne Peterson-Nedry, joined the Chehalem team and took over as head winemaker in 2012. Katie Santora became winemaker in 2018.
Last year Peterson-Nedry decided to concentrate on his vineyard and sold his share of the Chehalem winery to Stoller. So now Bill Stoller runs both Stoller and Chehalem as well as a couple of other brands. It is a seamless transition as both families share values such as sustainability and innovation.
Their vineyards are in the Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge, and Dundee Hills viticultural areas in the Willamette Valley.
Last July the winery became the sixth Oregon winery to achieve B Corp Certification, which assesses companies to ensure they meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.
Goes with: We had the pinot gris with chicken stir fry, an easy, healthy meal. Michael and his girlfriend Micheala(cq) were visiting to celebrate because he had just graduated from Augusta University with a biology degree.
I have been making this dish for 40 years, ever since one of my bosses suggested chopping up all the vegetables was a great way to work through the frustrations of a busy workday. It also is one of Michael’s favorite meals.
It was a perfect pairing, as the crisp minerality of the wine balanced the soy sauce and spices of the stir fry.
The pinot gris also would pair well with salmon, pork, chicken, rich fish, shrimp, and lobster. It might also go well with sushi, poblano pork stew, or Asian foods such as pork buns and spicy food. I also think it would be good with foods that have a rich, creamy white sauce.
We had the chardonnay with steamed shrimp, and it was another great combination. It would pair well with lobster, oysters, and other seafood, pork chops, or chicken.
Here’s the recipe for the stir fry, which you can alter to suit your taste. It is easier to make in a wok, but you could do it in a large frying pan.
Chicken Stir Fry
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups carrots, sliced
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, cut into one-inch pieces
- 6 scallions, cut into one-inch pieces
- 1 large handful of snew peas
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
- 1 small can water chestnuts
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- Dissolve cornstarch, sugar, cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper into soy sauce and chicken broth. Stir vigorously, then add sherry. Set aside.
- Heat oil in an electric wok to 400 degrees. Add chicken, ginger and garlic. Stir fry until meat loses its pink color. Remove meat from wok.
- Add more oil. When it heats up add carrots, celery, bell pepper, scallions and stir fry two minutes.
- Add peanuts, water chestnuts and snow peas and stir fry another minute. Return meat to pan and stir briefly.
- Add chicken broth mixture and stir fry until it boils and thickens. Add a little more sherry and serve over rice.
- Makes about eight servings.
If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at firstname.lastname@example.org