Chehalem Winery has a new 'do. Since the winery's purchase in early 2018, the font of the winery name went from "ALL CAPS" to "Sentence case". (The winery's founders previously used CHEHALEM to distinguish the use of the winery from the American Viticultural Area, or AVA, of the same name.) Then, this year, the label got a full makeover (now: sexy and sleek in black vs then: wine geeky and laid-back with colorful photos). My favorite part is the offer a new nugget of information: Chehalem is a Calapooia tribe word that means "Valley of Flowers".
Chehalem 2018 Chardonnay INOX Unoaked Willamette Valley 12.9%
Showing copious scents of tropical fruits, this wine is delightfully aromatic from start to finish. Its lush texture glides across the palate. The concentrated flavors are so richly fruit-laden and spicy that I might have thought it a Pinot Gris were I blind tasting. This solid core is lifted by invigorating refreshment and a snappy, crisp finish. It is absolutely gluggable! Big fan here, hence the "*" tacked onto my score.
Chehalem 2018 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 14.4%
A big, bold and effusively spicy Pinot Gris, this is mouthfilling and flavorful. It tastes of star anise, ginger tea and peak seaon yellow apples. Undoubtedly a crowd pleaser, this wine has delightful, creamy viscosity coupled with invigorating freshness.
Chehalem 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains 13.2%
I love this wine's glowing, deep pink color. Personally, I gravitate toward darker rosés, particularly when I'm just sipping and not nibbling. Dry rosés with more color intensity often have more varied and more developed fruit flavors. This one has a clingy, almost sensuous palate with tantalizing, field strawberry fruit. Though fast to finish, this is pleasantly balanced beweteen its juicy core are suavely dry finish with good length.
Chehalem 2017 Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains 13.5%
Crisp and crunchy, this unapologetically youthful Pinot Noir exudes sweet-tart blackberries. Its vigor and energy are undeniable. This wine exudes pizzaz! There's no evidentnew oak flavor here to district attention away from the pristine clean fruit. This is very good, pure and deeply Pinot-y Pinot Noir.
P.S. A point of clarification on the first line of the wines' new back labels: it reads, "You learn a lot about Pinot Gris/Chardonnay/Pinot Noir when you've been making it since 1990." It's a true statement about the winery. However, the people making the wines at (fka) CHEHALEM until about 19 months ago are now at RR Wines. This aside, it is clear that the new team led by winemaker Katie Santora is set to make excellent wines!