Division Wine Company, Portland OR
Our Wine Wednesdays, include one *free sample from each of our hand selected fine wine features (up to four wines). Join us as we welcome local wine distributor RISE OVER RUN and the amazing wines from Division Wine Company from Portland, OR. Division is an artisanal winery based in Portland, Oregon striving to make delicious, interesting and balanced wines with minimal manipulation. They are extremely passionate about supporting sustainably farmed, terroir expressive vineyards that celebrate their favorite varietals.
‘La Frontiére’ Sauvignon Blanc
It’s no secret that within the Willamette Valley the Eola-Amity Hills is one of the most special places in the U.S. for growing cool climate Pinot Noir grapes. It is definitely not and area very well known for growing Sauvignon Blanc, well, not yet. Myron Redford is as great a legend in Oregon’s wine industry as they come. He founded Amity Vineyards back in mid-1970s as a part of a group of pioneering young wine entrepreneurs that were building the start of the Oregon wine industry. Myron, always experimenting, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, with grapes like Gamay Noir, Riesling and yes, Sauvignon Blanc. He and his partner Vikki Wetle planted a small 7.5 acre certified organic vineyard on Jory, Yamhill & Woodburn soils at their home property in the Eola-Amity Hills in 2006, which includes the Sauvignon Blanc that dominates for our “La Frontière.” The organically farmed Allegre Vineyard, our first in the Columbia Gorge, makes up the remaining portion. We are usually some of the first to make picking decisions each year as we seek to make wines that are lighter, more finessed, vibrant, but still with intensity and complexity. Sauvignon Blanc was a bit of a conundrum for us as it is notorious for demonstrating very green tropic and grassy “cat pee” like aromatics when not completely ripe. For this reason and because we just hadn’t tasted many versions made in the New World that were that compelling, we eschewed making Sauvignon Blanc in the past. Ultimately, this meant we would need to harvest at a more ripened level than is typical for us. Like in 2016, we were thrilled with the balance of acidity to ripeness of both sites of Sauvignon Blanc and are confident we have another special and uniquely Oregonian Sauvignon Blanc. 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 for both sites. The wines were fermented “sur lie” in one puncheon (500L), five neutral white Burgundy barrels and a two stainless steel barrels. The ferments started and completed quite quickly in the puncheon and stainless barrel, while the oak barrels lingered and finished between December and January (2018). All were fermented dry, including the malolactic fermentation, which was completed this year. Our second “La Frontière” demonstrates the clear Sauvignon Blanc characteristics, led by peach and pear notes and followed by lychee with snap peas or snow peas, enlivening the riper fruit notes. We thankfully stayed away from the dreaded “litter box” notes, as well as the Dole tropical fruit cup tendencies that seem to dominate the domestic Sauvignon Blanc scene. The palate is full and vibrant, with secondary notes of wildflower honey and orchard fruits, like quince. The wine is drinking very well out of the gate and is quite pleasurable and we’re looking forward to seeing the future of this bottling.
L’Isle Verte Chenin Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA Willard Vineyard. One of fastest growing and diverse American wine growing regions of the past 40 years is the Columbia Valley, a wide swath of land that reaches from the northern border of Oregon to well into the northeastern parts of Washington State. Within this region is a is the Yakima Valley, home to our old vine Chenin Blanc at Willard Farms. This Chenin vineyard has 40 years of own-rooted development at the highest elevation in the north central Yakima, both of which aspects have helped insulate the vines from the year to year climate variation, and also from the intense daytime heat and cool to cold temperatures at night that Yakima is known for. The Willard Chenin 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 glacial sedimentary runoff of Missoula floods that makes the soils in the region so dynamic and unique. We adore this particular site, as it is one of the last remaining old vine Chenin Blanc sites in the Pacific Northwest, has demonstrated a unique and interesting terroir influence in the wines, and is farmed by an excellent, albeit quirky, farmer named Jim Willard who has a deep understanding of the soils and region. Taking a page from the books of some of our favorite domaines of the Loire Valley, we make multiple picking passes (typically two in the year) to pick both vibrant and lively earlier acid driven grapes, and the more fruit concentrated and complex flavored later picked grapes. During the growing season, we worked extensively with the canopy management to improve Chenin’s notorious variability in ripeness. The results were clearly beneficial and our first pick was healthy and much more even. As the weather cooled, the ripening slowed and we were able to accumulate some nice hang time on the vines before the primary 2nd pick, which dominates the “l’Isle Verte.” We created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of grapes from the vineyard to build a strong yeast population from the native flora. This was added to the first pick juice before being moved into two neutral white Burgundy barrels and a 75-gallon stainless barrel for fermentation. The second pick juice was split between the heart of the press, which went directly into a stainless 75 gal barrel and the rest, which went into mostly neutral and one year old French oak barrels. The ferments took off quickly this year and completed quite quickly going completely dry, the first time in our experience from this site. The “l’Isle Verte” Chenin Blanc is a truly memorable and has laser like precision, a lovely nervy quality, is savory, and dominated by the honeysuckle and beeswax that Chenin is famous for. The aromatics are flinty, smoky and vegetal in a way that is totally reminiscent of Vouvray Sec. Honeysuckle leads the pallet, but the wine is definitely more mineral than fruit, mid and back palate are all earth and stones. The wine’s medium bodied paired with it’s racy edge make it a deliciously refreshing option now, but also allows plenty of room development into a compelling and complex Chenin as it ages.
Rosé of Pinot Noir
Methven Family Vineyard & Bethany Heights Vineyard. This is the wine that started Division Winemaking Co. a mere 50 cases of the 2010 Rosé of Pinot Noir, which we have always made from the mineral intense Eola-Amity Hills in the Willamette and continue the tradition year after year. Methven Family Vineyards is set in Amity section of this AVA and has provided a significant portion of the Pinot rosé since 2011. The vines were planted in 2001 on soils formed from volcanic remnants, a clay and broken rock soil locally called Nekia, and marine sedimentary overlay against basalt bedrock. Not too far away on the western slop of the Eola Hills, is the old vines at Bethany Heights Vineyard. Bethany Heights is a bit cooler and wetter than the rest of the region due to the Van Duzer coastal gap corridor and its proximity to the coast, and the site features similar volcanic soils that more in the deeper Jory clay based series, most well known in the Dundee Hills. 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 pick this site relatively early with more acid driven grapes and lighter red fruit. To achieve this profile, we crop and keep the canopy managed in a way to provide a lot of shading to slow sugar production, while keeping acidity high. Due to the early start of the season and the late heat wave, Methven was harvested around a normal time this year, one September 22nd, as we finally had a “cool” year after several warm to hot ones in a row. Bethany was picked about a week earlier on September 16th, with fruit quality that was very healthy, vibrant and perfectly ripe for making rosé. While in the past few years, most was direct pressed, we did most of the Methven pressing by foot into neutral French oak this year and the entire Bethany by the press into a stainless tank. The foot pressed portion, now per our annual tradition, was about 30% of the total wine and adds considerable depth and complexity the rosé. For the fermentation, we created a pied de cuve (early native ferment) with a small amount of the Bethany grapes to build a strong yeast population from the native flora, which was added after settling into one stainless 1900L temperature controlled tank. 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. The French oak barrel portion of Methven rosé fermented considerably slower in the cool barrel room and finished in mid- January. We allowed the tank and barrels to fully finish the malolactic fermentation, as the wines had enough acidity not to warrant halting the malolactic transition. Last year, we said the Rosé of Pinot Noir was our best since 2013, and while it truly was, the 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir is our best since our first vintage in 2010. It’s truly complex, delicate and delicious. The wine is quite soave and polished with a distinct honeysuckle and strawberry character. The palate is crisp with floral white peach, sweet strawberries and pretty feminine Pinot notes . The wine has a deep core, not typical of crisp and dry rose, and a delicate light pink hue. This rosé is quite complex and will be a wine to both drink now and even hold for the next few years.
Pinot Noir ‘UN’ Willamette Valley
A return to cool climate greatness! After two uncharacteristically and record setting consecutively hot and dry years that began during the summer of 2014, the spell finally relented in the late spring of 2016. Yes, the warm 2015/2016 winter meant an early start to the 2016 season in March, but the key months from flowering to harvest were nearly textbook perfect conditions for growing world class Pinot Noir, and we couldn’t be more excited! We know that the Pacific Northwest and world around us is changing due to global climate heating, which will invariably effect the way we farm and even what we farm in the Willamette Valley for decades to come, but we’re more than pleased for a vintage like 2016 and believe you will be too! As in years past, we approach the Division Pinot Noir “Un” cuvee, our only Division pinot noir featuring multiple pinot noir sites, as our opportunity to make a vintage character wine in our lighter finesse driven style that is a comprehensive look at all of our very fine Eola-Amity Hills dominated Willamette Valley wine. In other words, it’s our chance to make our favorite blend from our nearly 50 Pinot Noir barrels and puncheons. Our vineyard roster in 2016 is clearly the best we’ve ever had and the wines and especially our flagship Pinot Noir “Un” cuvee are reflective of that. We are pleased to announced a long term lease agreement with two blocks of our very first vineyard, Eola Springs Vineyard, that we believe to be one of the best vineyards for Pinot Noir anywhere in the U.S. – it’s also the star of our Pinot Noir “Deux” wine. We continue to be very proud that all of our Pinot Noir vineyards are sustainably farmed and nearly 75% of the grapes for the Pinot Noir “Un” cuvee are farmed organically and/or Biodynamically. The Eola Springs vineyard continues its transition to Biodynamic principled farming while still being treated for Phylloxera in the old vines and we look forward to the day when we can that all of our grapes are at the very least, organically farmed. All lots were fermented either spontaneously or via a pied de cuve (vineyard native yeast cultivation) build up. We utilized varying techniques, including a significant portions of whole cluster in some of the Bjornson & Armstrong ferments and one all whole cluster carbonic fermentation with one of the Johan ferments to diversify the wine types and provide more spice, nuance and nerve in the wine. The flavors and grape quality from 2016 were simply the best we’ve seen and our significant experience working with minimal manipulation techniques in the cellar truly shines through in this year’s wine. We aged the wine in mostly French oak and a small amount of Austrian Oak, with approximately 15% in new barrels and puncheons, for 10 months without any racking before bottling. For the first time ever, we made only one sulfite addition, made just before bottling. Back in 2014, we believed we made our best Pinot Noir “Un” cuvee to date, and at the time, it was our best to date and very well received. That said, the 2016 is simply better and while we are done with saying the word “best,” we’re highly confident you will agree on this wine. The aromatics are dense and airy at the same time, with deep earthy spices, raspberry and an almost pencil lead notes. The palate is full, but not heavy, with a serious amount of length for a base level Pinot. It’s dominated by wild/brambly raspberry flavors and dark mineral layers. Drink up now or wait a few months, years, etc., but don’t miss this one!
‘Les Petites Fers’ Gamay Noir
Methven Family Vineyard (30%), Rebecca’s Vineyard (30%), Bjornson Vineyard (20%), Redford-Wetle Vine- yard (10%), Carson Vineyard (10%). The Gamay Noir grape, which hails from the Beaujolais region and also flour- ishes in the Loire Valley, is witnessing a rapid popularization in growth in the U.S. over recent years. A fact that that makes us very happy! The majority of our “Les Petits Fers” Gamay comes from three vineyards in the Eola-Amity hills, a part of the Willamette Valley, an area known as typically one of the coolest and wettest major wine growing regions in the U.S. The mix of soils is mostly volcanic clay with some marine sedimentary overlay, espe- cially at the lower elevations. We had the opportunity to also include some Dundee Hills Gamay, for the first time, which adds a truly new dimension to the wine. The balance of this cuvee comes from Rebecca’s Vineyard, a volcanic clay site that borders on cold for growing grapes in some years, but old own rooted vines have proven to grow excellent and unique Gamay that we have come to really appreciate. Rebecca’s is located in a lesser know area of Ore- gon, 100 miles to the south in the northern coastal slopes near Eugene, named after the area’s primary river, the Umpqua AVA. All of these AVAs share some commonalities that make them excellent for growing Gamay, including the proximity to the Van Duzer corridor which pulls in cool coastal air at night time to help drop the temperature to better retain acidity, as well as great exposure to the warmth in the afternoons for ripening. We fell hard for the carbonic maceration fermentation technique while learning about and making wine in the Beaujolais region. Carbonic Maceration involves fermenting the wines fully on the stems in a closed vessel that is initially inundated with co2 that macerates the grape skins by mostly using the co2 to enzymatically extract color, phenolics and flavors. We utilize this traditional Beaujolais technique for much of the “Les Petits Fers” Gamay Noir, including a fully carbonic ferment with one of the Methven blocks and partial carbonic ferment for the Redford-Wetle & Bjornson sites. Only Rebecca’s Vineyard was fermented without the stems as a more traditional red fermentation involving pulverization and recir- culation. This allowed us to create a balance between the fruity carbonic wine with nuanced and vibrant traditional wine. Each of the ferments were relatively short this year and lasted about 15 – 20 days on the skins, with the wines being pressed off in late October for ageing in two 475 gallon cement vessels, two puncheons (500L) and four neutral Burgundy French oak barrels. The “Les Petits Fers” Gamay Noir is complex, vibrant and shows numerous layers that makeup the wine. This wine is demonstrates classic Gamay sensibilities, with intense strawberries and raspberries, black pepper, and dark earthy warm earth tones. The palate is mineral rich and intense in mixed berries, with funky exotic spices tea notes and a lighter and ethereal texture. Designed to be a drink earlier wine, the 2017 “Les Petits Fers” is roaring out of the gate and ready for quaffing!
*tasting free with purchase of $10 or more per guest