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New World Chenin Blanc Leads Division Winemaking Company Spring Releases

Division WinemakingAlways trailblazers in producing lesser-known wine varietals, Division Winemaking Company’s (DWC) spring releases are Pacific Northwest variations of popular Loire Valley and Beaujolais wines. Leading the pack is the second vintage of the highly popular 2014 Division-Villages “L’Isle Verte” Chenin Blanc. Through the release of this less popular varietal and one of the few made in North America, DWC is determined to spread the word about the wine’s amazing range and that it can be paired with anything. Their goal is to make it a household name, served at the daily dinner table and top of mind when ordering wine at a restaurant. To achieve this noble goal the winery is launching the first ever #DrinkChenin campaign in the U.S. with #DrinkChenin events in New York City, Atlanta and Washington D.C. in May and naming June 12, 2015 Drink Chenin Day with events coast to coast. They invite others around the country to join in and document their celebration all summer long with the hashtag #DrinkChenin.

Division Winemaking Company owners Kate and Tom Monroe arrived in Oregon in early 2010 with youthful energy and armed with a wealth of experience and knowledge that they learned from making Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietals in France. Not being taught the more traditional New World winemaking methodologies most commonly seen on the West Coast, provided the opportunity to start their winery uninfluenced by the New World norms. Therefore, they are able to demonstrate where their influences came from and whom they learned from, through their wines. In 2012 the duo opened SE Wine Collective in response to their personal interest in creating a unique multi-faceted urban winery, coupled with increasing public interest in the urban wine movement and moved their winery into the space. Through the Collective the Monroes have helped shepherd the upstart of multiple artisanal wineries that together have produced about 20 varietals.

While working in France, Kate and Tom were briefly exposed to Chenin Blanc and fell in love with its versatility and adaptability and were intrigued to try and taste Northwest versions of the varietal when they arrived in Oregon. They quickly discovered there wasn’t much to try. They did find a few remaining small vineyard sites in the Yakima Valley that were planted in the 1970s, including Willard Farms Vineyard, when Chenin was being “tried out” in the region. Nearly 40 years later, the Monroes decided to take a shot on the grape at Willard Farm Vineyard with the 2013 vintage, determined to see if Chenin had a future in the Pacific Northwest and released the 2013 Division-Villages “l’Isle Verte” Chenin Blanc. Their hunch proved correct, and pleased with the resulting wine, they swiftly added Chenin Blanc to their annual spring lineup.

As ambassadors for the new generation of Portland produced wines, Division Winemaking Company’s entire line of spring releases serves as a guide to the hottest upcoming wine varietals.

2015 Spring Wine Release Offering

Those who grow, make and consume Oregon wines will fondly remember the 2014 vintage.  Superb yields, dry picking conditions and delicious and ripe high quality fruit is the main theme of the year, producing amazing results. In anticipation of the spring release, Division Winemaking Company is offering a pre-release mail order opportunity for all the new wines.  For those not in the Portland area, they are continuing the very popular and well priced regionally based single shipping rate per box (up to 12) of wine.

2014 Division-Villages Wines

After selling out of the 2013 line, Division Winemaking Company is very excited about the second iteration of its Villages line. The wines are inspired by the affordable, mainstay dinner table wines found throughout France and offer a sense of place, each wine focusing on a specific area or village from winemakers Kate and Thomas Monroe’s time in France. The high quality, artisanal wines are produced at SE Wine Collective and are delicious, approachable and affordable.

Willard Vineyard, Yakima Valley AVA

The Yakima Valley is no stranger to warmth and fortunately for us, our old vine Chenin Blanc vines at Willard Farms have over 35 years of root development at the highest elevation portions of the region to help insulate the vines from year to year climate variation. We love this particular site, originally planted in the late 70s, as it’s quite unique being one of the last old vine Chenin Blanc sites. Therefore, like in the some of the best domaines of the Loire Valley, we completed two pass pickings to pick both vibrant and lively early acid driven grapes and more fruit concentrated and complex flavored later picked grapes. The first pass was completed on September 22nd, with fruit quality that was very healthy and with some variability in ripeness. The second picking, completed on October 5th, showed fruit quality that was very healthy and quite ripe with some rows with early Noble Rot (we separated that component for a separate ferment). We created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of grapes to build a strong yeast population from the native flora, which was inoculated after settling into one puncheon, 4 neutral white Burgundy barrels and 2 stainless barrels. The barrel ferment took off quickly and we moved the barrels into a cool area where the ferment lasted until mid to late January, depending on the barrel. We stopped 2 barrels from fully finishing the primary ferment to provide natural balance with the wine’s natural vibrant acidity.

The result of our second Chenin Blanc was a nicely balanced and incredibly dense fruit core wine with more mid palate wine than we typically taste in whites. We are reminded of Vouvray wines from warmer years with aromatics that range from Granny smith nose, Crème caramel and ripe stone fruit. The palate is bright and mineral rich with slate, white plum flower and apple. The wine is full to medium bodied and very vibrant (especially for the vintage), complex and somewhat fruit loaded. This is a wine is drinking very well at the moment in it’s early youth, but because of its fairly robust acidity, will likely cellar for several years. Alc 13.4%, R/S – 5 g/l, 170 cases produced

Willard Vineyard, Yakima Valley AVA

The Yakima Valley is no stranger to warmth and fortunately for us, our Gamay Noir vines at Willard Farms lay at highest elevation portions of the region to help insulate the vines from some of the most intense heat, as well as having a due east exposition avoiding the most intense sun of the day. We love this particular site because it’s so unique to find Gamay in a region better known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah than the famous Beaujolais varietal. It is farmed by an excellent multigenerational farming family with a deep understanding of the soils and region. The vines are planted on soils formed from volcanic miocene uplift against basalt bedrock with the primary top soil being made up of quartz and lime- silica, overlaid with the mixed sedimentary runoff of Missoula floods that is typical of the area. We believe the best wines will be made by picking before overly ripe characteristics dominate the wine and balance and finesse suffer. Therefore, especially with rosé, which we seek more white wine-like vibrancy than red wine-like richness or intensity, we pick this site relatively early with more acid driven grapes and more red fruit. The harvest was completed on September 22nd, with fruit quality that was very healthy and was perfectly ripe for making rosé. We allowed the whole cluster grapes to stay on the skins for several hours in the press to pick up some color. For the fermentation, we created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of Gamay grapes to build a strong yeast population from the native flora, which was added after settling into one stainless 1000L temperature controlled tank and one stainless barrel. The stainless tank began fermenting very quickly and we kept it on the cooling jacked at 17 C with the ferment lasting until mid-December. Our stainless barrel fermented considerably slower in the cool barrel room and finished in mid-January. We allowed the tank to semi finish the malolactic fermentation, but wanted to retain some of the malic notes, so used the cooling jacket to halt the M/L about halfway through. The result of our 2014 ”Auvegne” Rosé of Gamay Noir was a vibrant and crisp rosé wine with mineral intensity and is more akin to white wine fruit components than a red varietal. We are reminded of Beaujolais rosés with aromatics that range from mixed honeydew and cantaloupe melons to peach hard candy and light early strawberry. The palate is bright and mineral rich with a kind of deliciously salty fruit salad that is really tasty. The wine is light bodied and very vibrant (especially for the vintage), and has a beautiful pink salmon color. Our rosé is drinking very well at the moment in its early youth, but will likely continue to evolve over the coming months and hopefully even years. Alc 12.5%, 105 cases produced.

Methven Family Vineyards, Willamette Valley AVA

The Willamette Valley is typically one of the coolest and wettest major wine growing regions in the U.S, which clearly favors the delicate, but seemingly boundless potential of the Pinot Noir grape that seems to show its best on the fringes of suitable farming. 2014 was not a cool and wet year, but was one of those rare vintages where we experienced enough warmth throughout the season, as well as harvest time dry weather to bring in really amazing grapes at the optimal moment! Methven Family Vineyards is set in the Amity portion of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA and has really developed into a great site for Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Chardonnay, all of which we are proud to have worked with since we started Division. The vines are planted on soils formed from volcanic remnants, locally called Nekia soil, and marine sedimentary overlay against basalt bedrock. The east/southeast facing site tends to be a warm site that we pick relatively early for Pinot Noir. In a warm year like 2014, we worked hard to contain vigor and slow down maturity to develop complex phenolic maturity without taking on too much sugar and a corresponding decrease in natural acidity. We fell hard for carbonic maceration fermentation technique while learning about and making wine in the Beaujolais region and began experimenting with the technique with Pinot Noir from Methven Family Vineyards in 2012. Carbonic Maceration involves fermenting the wines fully on the stems in a closed vessel that is initially inundated with carbon dioxide that macerates the grape skins mostly enzymatically versus the traditional method involving pulverization and recirculation. The carbonic method favors lighter and fruiter wines with vibrant acidity, therefore we picked the Pinot Noir block quite early in 2014, in fact the earliest we’ve ever picked Pinot, September 18th. For the carbonic fermentation, we created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of Methven grapes to build a strong yeast population from the native flora, which was added after a few days of carbon dioxide enrichment to one of our concrete closed top vats. As is usual with our carbonic fermentations in concrete, the temperature is slow to rise and takes a bit of time to warm up. Ultimately the ferment lasted about 25 days and the wines were pressed off in mid-October and then returned to the concrete vat for aging. The result of our “Methode Carbonique” Pinot Noir was a deliciously fruity and vibrant wine with mineral intensity that mellows and refines the intense red fruit tones. We are reminded of good Beaujolais Villages wines, showing black cherry, strawberries and sarsaparilla on the nose. The palate is balanced and mineral rich with calcium zestyness from the concrete aging against a fruit smorgasbord of spiced and crushed cherries, Marionberries and strawberries. The wine is medium bodied and very smooth (especially for the vintage), and has a beautiful garnet color. This wine is drinking very well at the moment in its early youth, but will likely continue to evolve over the coming months and hopefully even years. Alc 12.6%, 190 cases produced

Quady North Vineyard, Methven Family Vineyard, Red Hills Vineyard, Oregon AVA

From the central Umpqua south to the California border, the vintage was quite warm and with little drama besides some wildfires over the summer. This was our second year working with Quady North Vineyard in the Applegate Valley AVA in southern Oregon for the main component of Loire clones of Cabernet Franc (65% of the blend). Herb Quady has become one, if not, the best growers in the region who is doing everything right with fantastic granite based terroir. The Quady site sits in the hills above the Applegate River and while much warmer than the Willamette Valley, the Applegate is usually cooler and wetter than the Rogue Valley AVA to the east. Methven Family Vineyards provides the Gamay for the blend (35%). The vines are planted on soils formed from volcanic remnants, locally called Nekia soil, and marine sedimentary overlay against basalt bedrock, In a warm year like 2014, we worked hard with all three vineyards to contain vigor and slow down maturity to develop complex phenolic maturity without taking on too much sugar and a corresponding decrease in natural acidity. We love the red blend wine of the Loire and used them as inspiration for the “Beton” blend. We independently ferment each of the three, including one (Gamay) carbonically and two traditionally (Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir) to create a balance between the fruity carbonic wine with nuanced and finessed traditional wine. For all the lots, we utilized spontaneous fermention to harness as much of the native yeast flora from each site to express the place each of these wines came from. Each of the ferments were fairly lengthy with the exception of the Pinot Noir and lasted about 35 days on the skins, with the wines being pressed off in late-October. Per the name of this Loire style red, all of the parts were blended post pressing and aged in concrete (AKA Beton). We are beyond pleased with the result from our third iteration of the “Beton” blend. The Cabernet Franc again stands out and is somewhat richer than last year’s wine, but still very finessed at 12.6% alc. We are reminded of the more Saumur styled Loire red wines with the distinct Cabernet Franc traits and a splash of carbonic Gamay fruitiness. The wine is showing anise, pyrazine smokiness, black plum and distinct fresh black and red currants. The palate is dark mineral rich, like slate, and intense in currants and plums. The wine is medium bodied and very smooth (especially for the vintage), and has a deep color. This wine is drinking very well at the moment in its early youth, but undoubtedly will continue to evolve over the coming months and years to come. Alc 12.6%, 300 cases produced

Methven Family Vineyards and Rebecca’s Vineyard, Oregon AVA

The Willamette Valley is known as typically one of the coolest and wettest major wine growing regions in the U.S, what is less known is that 100 miles to the south in the northern coastal slopes south of Eugene, there is another great cool climate growing area named after the areas primary river, the Umpqua AVA. The Gamay grape, which hails from the Beaujolais region and has also flourished in the Loire Valley, but is just beginning to grow in popularity in the U.S. Rebecca’s Vineyard, in the northern Umpqua AVA, was planted with Gamay in the late 1980s and has been a quiet beacon of the grapes capabilities outside of the Willamette Valley. In a warm year like 2014, we worked hard with Rebecca’s Vineyard and Methven Family Vineyards to contain vigor and slow down maturity to develop complex phenolic maturity without taking on too much sugar and a corresponding decrease in natural acidity. For the “Les Petits Fers” Gamay Noir, we ferment one the lots carbonically and one traditionally to create a balance between the fruity carbonic wine with nuanced and vibrant traditional wine. For both lots, we spontaneous fermented, which began a few days after the carbon dioxide enrichment for the Methven grapes and after three days of cold soaking for the Rebecca’s grapes. The ferments were both fairly lengthy and lasted about 35 days on the skins, with the wines being pressed off in late-October for ageing in both a stainless steel and three neutral French oak barrels. The result of our “Les Petits Fers” Gamay Noir was a deliciously fruity, somewhat richer and spicy wine with classic Gamay characteristics. We are reminded of the more spicy Loire Valley Gamay wines that is showing raspberries, black pepper, a hint of licorice and rose petals on nose. The palate is mineral rich, and intense in raspberries with some spicy and funk notes. The wine is medium bodied and very smooth (especially for the vintage), and has a deep color for Gamay. This wine is drinking very well at the moment in its early youth, but will likely continue to evolve over the coming months and hopefully even years. Alc 13.0%, 170 cases produced

2014 Division Wines

Produced at SE Wine Collective, Division Wines are high quality artisanal wines, made with grapes specifically sourced for each wine.

Methven Family Vineyard, Johan Vineyards, Vista Hills Vineyard, Willamette Valley AVA

The Willamette Valley in 2014 was not cool and wet and therefore yielded one of those rare vintages where we experienced enough warmth throughout the season, as well as harvest time dry weather to bring in really amazing grapes at the optimal moment! Methven Family Vineyards provides a significant portion of the 2014 rosé blend. Not too far away, the biodynamically farmed Johan Vineyards, just outside of the Eola-Amity Hills, features similar soil and terrior attributes to Methven, but is a bit cooler and wetter. The Vista Hills Vineyard is a fairly high elevation site in the Dundee Hills on shallow red Jory soils. We believe the best wines are made by picking before overly ripe characteristics dominate the wine and balance and finesse suffer. Therefore, especially with rosé, which we seek more white wine-like vibrancy than red wine-like richness or intensity, we picked each of the two specifically farmed for rosé sites earlier and left the cropping to higher yield specifically for these characteristics. All three harvests were completed by October 2nd, with fruit quality that was very healthy and perfectly ripe for making rosé. For the Johan and Methven portions, nearly 80% of the wine, the grapes were kept as whole cluster grapes on the skins for several hours in the press before pressing. The Vista Hills Pinot Noir was foot pressed per our annual tradition. For the fermentation, we created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of the Methven grapes to build a strong yeast population from the native flora, which was added after settling into one stainless 1000L temperature controlled tank and one stainless barrel. The stainless tank began fermenting very quickly and we kept it on the cooling jacked at 17 C with the ferment lasting until mid December. Our stainless barrel fermented considerably slower in the cool barrel room and finished in mid-January. We allowed the tank to semi finish the malolactic fermentation, but wanted to retain some of the malic notes, so used the cooling jacket to halt the M/L about halfway through. We are very pleased with the result from our fifth rosé of Pinot Noir. We are again reminded of the more Sancerre style Loire rosé wines with the distinct mineral and briny profile. The wine is showing floral and spice nose with savory and wild strawberry aspects. The palate mineral rich, like wet rock, and intense in strawberry and Rainier cherry. The wine is light and crisp and has an intense wild pink salmon color. Out of the gates it is drinking very well, but will likely evolve coming months and gain in complexity. Alc 13.1%, 190 cases

2013 Division Pinot Noir “Trois”

Red Hills Vineyard, Red Hills—Douglas County AVA

From the Willamette Valley south to the Umpqua Valley, 2013 might well be remembered as the tale of two vintages. That is, wines from the 2013 vintage that were made before the massive wind and rainstorm that arrived on September 23rd and the wines made from the second 2013 vintage, after the storm. Perhaps the wine labels should have an asterisk on them denoting which 2013 vintage said bottle came from because, it is quite likely the wines produced will be quite different depending on which 2013 vintage and even which AVA the wine came from. We did not make a “Trois” designated wine in 2012, not because we didn’t want to, but because our lower than anticipated yields prevented us from having enough wine to justify a single barrel bottling. Well, despite the variable conditions in 2013, we’re back with a truly distinct single barrel of Pinot Noir. This very special vineyard, which isn’t in the Willamette Valley, but in its very own single vineyard AVA (the only U.S. monopole AVA) rests high in the hills of the Northern Umpqua at a region high 1,200 ft elevation. First planted to about 20 acres in1983 and then purchased by Wayne Hitchings and grown to over 200 planted acres, the Red Hills Vineyard features red Jory clay unlike anything else in Oregon. Planted on somewhat of a plateau, the vineyard’s earth is so bright red and thick, it literally sticks to everything it touches. Well drained and deep, there’s no other larger vineyard that we’ve seen with so much uniformity across the entire site. Due to both southern latitude and high elevation, the vineyard experiences both high daytime and very low evening temps. The high diurnal difference in temperature results in grapes with both significant sugar ripeness and austere acid retention, which can only happen with these extremes. Our block is planted to Pommard clone and so called Mirassou Clone Pinot Noir (we don’t really know what this is) and is dry farmed. The wines themselves are nothing short of completely unique, interesting and worth showcasing. The 2013 Trois was fair bit more complete ripe, meaning phenolically and sugar/acid than any of our Willamette sites. We created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of grapes to build a strong yeast population from the native flora, which was inoculated after three days of cold soaking the fully destemmed fruit. The ferment lagged a bit longer than we thought it would, but then heated up fairly quickly and was completed in about 15 days. Not knowing what to expect from this site, we pressed lightly to avoid any harsh tannins. We aged the lot in three neutral French Oak barrels and after 10 months of time in the barrels, were convinced that a single member of the group stood up above the rest and earned its spot as the 2013 Trois. The result is perhaps our most unique Pinot Noir wine to date with an incredibly dense fruit core that almost reminds us of Cru Beaujolais from Morgon. The initial aromatics are bright and mineral noted, with dense ripe strawberry. The palate has a textural density, medium bodied and very vibrant (especially for the vintage), complex and somewhat fruit loaded. This wine is drinking very well at the moment, but because of its fairly robust acidity, will likely cellar for several years.

About Division Winemaking Company:

“Pair with good times, good food and good people” is the philosophy of the Division Winemaking Company, founded in 2010 by Kate and Thomas Monroe. Inspired by the wineries of Loire, Burgundy and the Northern Rhone, they create sustainably farmed Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé. Both Tom and Kate have been passionate about wine for most of their lives, for Tom it was when he started an entry level sommelier course in college, for Kate is was spending time at her family home in the Loire Valley, France. Once the pair decided to trade cubicles for winery cellars, Kate’s family home in France proved to be a perfect place for their immersion into viticulture and enology.

Starting with no grape farming or production experience, they crafted Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay for regional greats, Domaine Sauvat, during the 2009 season and harvest. With a lot of help from Kate’s fluency in French, they both completed an intensive 8-month private viticulture and enology program with both classroom and field study in the vineyards and wineries of Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Northern Rhone. In the fall of 2012 Tom and Kate Monroe opened SE Wine Collective and moved Division Winemaking Company’s wine production into the urban winery. In 2014, Kate and Tom decided to launch the affordable, accessible Division-Villages label, a series of five new wines inspired by the everyday Villages (vil-lahj) wines found throughout France.

Recently the winery has been named an Oregon Winery to Watch by Wine Press Northwest and Kate and Tom were mentioned as winemakers to watch in the San Francisco Chronicle article, All you wanted to know about this year’s Winemakers to Watch. Division Winemaking Company wines have been featured in a number of articles including the Division 2012 Willamette Valley Gamay Noir as the number one pick by Eric Asimov in the New York Times article Wines for Thanksgiving the Refresh the Palate and the 2013 Division-Villages “Les Petits Fers” Gamay Noir in the San Francisco Chronicle article 2014 Top 100 Wines: Zinfandel and Other Reds. The 2011 Gamay Noir was also the only wine from the United States to win a gold medal at the 2014 International Competition of Gamay in France. Find more information at www.divisionwinemakingcompany.com, Facebook Division Winemaking Company, Twitter @divisionwineco or by calling 503-208-2061.

About SE Wine Collective

Kate and Thomas Monroe, of Division Winemaking Company, founded the Southeast Wine Collective in 2012 in response to their personal interest in creating a unique multi-faceted urban winery, coupled with increasing public interest in the urban wine movement. The urban winery and wine bar brings together like-minded wineries who are sustainably growing their businesses and offers a venue for commercial custom crush wine production, tastings and events in an area of SE Portland that already hosts a thriving restaurant and nightlife scene. Currently the collective is made up of ten wineries: Division Winemaking Company, Fullerton Wines, Helioterra Wines, Jackalope Wine Cellars, James Rahn Wine Co, Jasper Sisco, Ore Winery, Vincent Wine Company, Willful Wines and 5Q, while continuing to work as an incubator for future wine brands and budding industry ideas. Currently 20 varietals are produced at the Collective ranging from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc to lesser-known varietals such as Gamay Noir, Mourvedre, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, and Arneis. The wine bar features pours and flights from all 10 Collective members and their inspirational wines along with draft beer and a diverse food menu by in-house chef Althea Grey Potter. Recently the Collective was listed among the 10 Best Urban Wineries in USA Today and Best Wine Bars in The Oregonian. It has also been featured in FOOD & WINE magazine’s A Winemakers’ Beaujolais Nouveau Party, the New York Times article “Bringing the Wine to Portland, Ore.”, Wine Spectator’s “The New Portland,” Portland Monthly’s article “Meet Portland’s Top Urban Winemakers,” and Portland Monthly’s Best Restaurants 2014 7 Days In Portland piece. Wines produced at the Collective have been mentioned in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. The wine bar hosts large and small events, wine release parties and pop-up dinners and is available for rent for private parties. Its hours are Mon, Wed, Thurs. and Fri. 4 – 10 p.m.; Sat. 1 p.m. – 10 p.m. and Sun. 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. The Collective is located at 2425 SE 35th Place, Portland, Oregon 97215. Find more information at www.sewinecollective.com, Facebook SE Wine Collective, Twitter @SEWineColl, Instagram @SEWineCollective or by calling 503-208-2061.

 

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