Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

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Scott Everson
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#1 Post by Scott Everson »

I'm sure this question can be best answered by Jim, Marcus, and Todd, but I'd love to hear any other thoughts, and I look forward to other random insults and other off-topic witticisms.

I thought reds were generally more expensive because of the new barrels, the time required to store it prior to release, etc. etc. etc. However, as I'm just beginning to learn about Oregon whites, I'm finding myself experiencing a little sticker shock. Take the outfit mentioned by Jim recently, Domaine Divio - I checked out their website last night and discovered their chardonnay is their second most expensive offering, more expensive than even a Dundee Pinot. What gives? Is this simply a supply & demand issue? Is Oregon chardonnay that good?

As an aside, or to start the drift already, I recently learned about the Matello Whistling Ridge White (mercifully priced ~$20 or so). A co-fermented Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer sounds absolutely delicious!

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#2 Post by Howard Cooper »

In general, I don't think it is helpful to try to determine wine prices by figuring out costs. Sure, eventually, the ability to charge more for a wine finds its way into land costs, but really wines are prices by what you will pay to get them (unless the winery is generous and has owned the land for a long time).
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#3 Post by Vincent Fritzsche »

Chard grape prices have soared. If you have an estate vineyard, not so much of an issue. But either way you can't crop too high, like the Pinot, then likely same barrel regime as the Pinot, maybe filtering where you might not filter the Reds so added cost. My point - it's not like making the chard is so much cheaper. The market hasn't been willing to go so high with it but that's changing. Most production is still under $30, but honestly I'm happy to see people striving for greater things with chard, even if top end bottlings are going for more money. The wines in general are really worth while.

Disclosure - I make OR Chard but it's only $23.
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#4 Post by Richard T r i m p i »

Scott, you have to search for value, with the understanding that one man's bargain is another's highway robbery. Value probably won't come looking for you.

There's very good to exellent Chardonnay in OR for $20 - $50. Top level examples can be found for $40 - $75. Very good base quality Burg Chards (i.e.: Roulot Bourgogne Blanc) are often $50+. Village level Meursault from Roulot...you're talking $100+.

California Chard pricing is usually a bit higher than OR (with many exceptions). Rhys for example, $60 retail for the Santa Cruz Mtn Chard. Some people love the Ramey Hyde for $50-ish.

Snag a bottle of 2013 Crowley 4 winds for $38 or Drouhin Arthur for $32. If you don't like the styles, you can refine your search criteria or accept that OR Chards are "expensive" and move on.

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#5 Post by Dennis Kanagie »

It's expensive because people are paying the asking price.
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#6 Post by Todd Hamina »

If you thought about the decades of trial and error, you'd want to pay more.

Disclaimer: I don't make Chardonnay.
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#7 Post by Jim Anderson »

We took 6 vintages off from making Chardonnay mostly because we weren't crazy about what we were making. Was proud enough to chalk it up to "not having a very good source of fruit." Then Tyson Crowley started making kick ass wine from the same vineyard. Bastard. So...decided we needed to re-arrange our priorities, suck it up and learn what the cool kids were doing and get back into it. What are we talking about? Oh, right, why is it expensive? I don't know. Because people can get it. I don't know what we are going to charge. I think it's good but when you go years without tasting raw wine of a certain variety and you change your approach knowing what is and is going to happen is difficult.

Disclaimer, I'm in Minneapolis and had a 2004 Raveneau Butteaux on a wine list for $150 last night and that wine makes me think maybe no one else should make Chardonnay. Just them.
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#8 Post by Scott Tallman »

Richard T r i m p i wrote:Scott, you have to search for value, with the understanding that one man's bargain is another's highway robbery. Value probably won't come looking for you.

There's very good to exellent Chardonnay in OR for $20 - $50. Top level examples can be found for $40 - $75. Very good base quality Burg Chards (i.e.: Roulot Bourgogne Blanc) are often $50+. Village level Meursault from Roulot...you're talking $100+.

California Chard pricing is usually a bit higher than OR (with many exceptions). Rhys for example, $60 retail for the Santa Cruz Mtn Chard. Some people love the Ramey Hyde for $50-ish.

Snag a bottle of 2013 Crowley 4 winds for $38 or Drouhin Arthur for $32. If you don't like the styles, you can refine your search criteria or accept that OR Chards are "expensive" and move on.

RT
This.

Not sure who you buy from, but other than the top end Cameron Chards and Arterberry Maresh Vineyard Chard, I spend the same or less $$ on OR Chards than OR Pinots. IMO the Chards are absolutely worth the tariffs. Not sure how you define expensive, but you can get the following wines for about $25 or under and all are well worth it - Cameron Dundee Hills, Walter Scott WV, Crowley WV, Eyrie Dundee Hills, Westrey Reserve, Belle Pente Belle Pente Vineyard, Evesham Wood WV. Spend $5-10/bottle more and you have a plethora of fantastic options that have been discussed in other OR Chard threads.
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#9 Post by Bob Hughes »

Monsieur Trimpi plied me with a bottle of the 2013 Crowley Four Winds Chard recently. After being blown away (and my better half liking it even more than I did), I was able to buy a case at an all-in price of $44 a bottle.

If you can recommend a similar bottle qualitatively from Burgundy at the same price point, I'm all ears ;)

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#10 Post by Anthony Lombardi »

As excited as I've been about an Oregon wine project in a while & I have no idea what the price will be.
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I don't think Oregon Chardonnay is expensive relative to Chardonnay elsewhere. There just isn't as much of it, so the scarcity may make the prices seem higher.

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#11 Post by Chris Seiber »

On a recommendation here on WB from someone who attended an Oregon Chardonnay syposium, I bought some bottles of Brittan Chardonnay, I think they were around $35. Really excellent, vibrant chardonnay.

My question was always why there isn't more chardonnay coming out of Willamette Valley. It seems like a pretty obvious site for chardonnay.

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#12 Post by Dave McCloskey »

Dennis Kanagie wrote:It's expensive because people are paying the asking price.
Bingo we have a winner. [winner.gif]

It's all about "value pricing"!

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#13 Post by Andy Steinman »

Chris Seiber wrote:On a recommendation here on WB from someone who attended an Oregon Chardonnay syposium, I bought some bottles of Brittan Chardonnay, I think they were around $35. Really excellent, vibrant chardonnay.

My question was always why there isn't more chardonnay coming out of Willamette Valley. It seems like a pretty obvious site for chardonnay.


Quality Chardonnay fruit is relatively scarce in the Willamette Valley.

A number of Chard-focused vineyards have been planted over the last few years and that fruit is beginning to come on line so I believe you'll see more availability in coming vintages.
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#14 Post by Mel Knox »

I don't think the WV is a place where bargain wines are going to come from. Land is not cheap, nor is labor.
But yields are smaller than they are in California.


The Oregonians brought in INRA (Dijon) clones of pinot and chard back in the 80s, but by the time things went through quarantine, all people cared about was pinot, so not much good clone chardonnay was planted.
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#15 Post by John Morris »

There are a couple of cost factors people haven't mentioned that make white cheaper to produce.

First, there's the working capital cost of having all that inventory aging for longer before you can sell it.

Second -- and Mel can check me on this -- reds are typically in barrel for more than 12 months, whereas a white may cycle in and out of barrels in less than a year. If it does, you only need half the number of barrels for the same annual production of white, and only half as many new barrels if you're using new oak.
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#16 Post by Wes Barton »

Andy Steinman wrote:
Chris Seiber wrote:On a recommendation here on WB from someone who attended an Oregon Chardonnay syposium, I bought some bottles of Brittan Chardonnay, I think they were around $35. Really excellent, vibrant chardonnay.

My question was always why there isn't more chardonnay coming out of Willamette Valley. It seems like a pretty obvious site for chardonnay.


Quality Chardonnay fruit is relatively scarce in the Willamette Valley.

A number of Chard-focused vineyards have been planted over the last few years and that fruit is beginning to come on line so I believe you'll see more availability in coming vintages.
Yep. Fluke of history, but it's coming now. My snapshot perspective two decades ago was white production was mostly for in-state consumption and from predominantly Germanic and Alsatian varieties. Stores had a much bigger import selection from Germany and Alsace compared to here in CA, too.

It seems the Pinot market up there is a bit saturated, as it is here. There's certainly a lot of quality exploration into other grape varieties lately, and maybe some more attention on the other quality regions, too.
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#17 Post by Patrick Duffy »

Jim may want to correct me, but it's my understanding that chard was originally planted in Oregon, pretty much on the theory that chard can/should grow where pinot noir grows. It is also my understanding that the chard clones that were used turned out to not be very well suited to western Oregon's climate and soil. I may have my timing wrong, but I believe that was also about the time that was towards the end of California's "the more oak, the better" approach to chard and it didn't work in Oregon, either. Some people then turned to pinot gris, but the results were pretty much so-so. Now growers are trying chard again with different clones and the results are tasting a lot better.

I love DDO's Arthur. I look forward to getting my hands on some of Jim's white.

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#18 Post by Rick Allen »

Sigh.

At a recent tasting of 20+ 2010 Chardonnays, the top 4 or 5 all came from old vine California clones. The problem was not with the vines. The problems were over-cropping, young vines, and general ignorance on how to make good Chardonnay. Tualatin Vineyards, Eyrie, and several others made great Chardonnays as far back as the 80's. Frankly, I think it can be a challenge to get enough "tension" in some of the Dijon clone wines.

There are a number of really good Chardonnays in the $15-$30 range. Eyrie, Walter Scott, Cameron, Crowley, Westrey, and DDO all make nice wines in that price range. Yeah, there are more expensive single vineyard stuff out there, but really good, less expensive wines can be had.

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#19 Post by Brandon J. »

I just bought a case of Evesham Wood's Chard for $9/bottle and a case of Cameron for $12/bottle. Both are delicious and incredibly affordable. Everyone else did a great job mentioning the other $15-$50 wines available.
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#20 Post by GregT »

Not much to add over what others have said but I wanted to comment on this:
I thought reds were generally more expensive because of the new barrels, the time required to store it prior to release, etc. etc. etc.
I don't think that's necessarily true, whether for Chardonnay or any other white. If you do barrel fermenting or store your wine in barrels for some time, and the barrels are new, that cost element is going to be the same regardless of whether it's red or white wine.

More important is probably the cost of grapes - a lot of producers act kind of like negociants, buying fruit and vinifying it. So the cost of grapes is going to be a bigger issue than barrels.

But most important is the fact that people will pay. A few years ago Petite Sirah was more expensive than Cabernet Sauvignon but good luck getting anyone to pay you one, two, or three hundred dollars for a bottle of Petite Sirah. Chardonnay is far and away the most popular white wine at both the higher and lower ends of the price spectrum. There's the occasional SQN mixed bag of white grapes that pops up but that's an outlier - people will pay for Chardonnay like they won't pay for Riesling or even Sauvignon Blanc. Given the fact that many of the Oregon producers are fairly new and haven't amortized their costs since grandpa built the winery, if I were there I'd plant Chardonnay and charge whatever I could.
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#21 Post by Nolan E »

Greg, a big factor in price with reds vs whites is labor. Chardonnay comes in, gets pressed, maybe settled overnight then either ferments in tank or in barrel with little human effort.

Reds will get two, maybe three, pumpovers or punchdowns a day for two weeks, then maybe one a day for extended maceration for another week or two with daily dry ice application...that's when you have several interns working 14 hours a day only doing cap management.
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#22 Post by Markus S »

Or, you could simply look east instead of west for value. There are decent Finger Lakes chardonnays for around $20/bottle. [cheers.gif]
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#23 Post by Monte Mast »

Vincent Fritzsche wrote:Chard grape prices have soared. If you have an estate vineyard, not so much of an issue. But either way you can't crop too high, like the Pinot, then likely same barrel regime as the Pinot, maybe filtering where you might not filter the Reds so added cost. My point - it's not like making the chard is so much cheaper. The market hasn't been willing to go so high with it but that's changing. Most production is still under $30, but honestly I'm happy to see people striving for greater things with chard, even if top end bottlings are going for more money. The wines in general are really worth while.

Disclosure - I make OR Chard but it's only $23.
Scott, I recommend that you find a bottle of this. It is one of the best chardonnay's I have tasted in the past year, regardless of region, regardless of price.
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#24 Post by Lee Short »

Brandon J. wrote:I just bought a case of Evesham Wood's Chard for $9/bottle and a case of Cameron for $12/bottle. Both are delicious and incredibly affordable. Everyone else did a great job mentioning the other $15-$50 wines available.
Exactly. Rather than answer the question, I reject its premise. Sure you can find some spendy bottles if you look around hard enough. But there's plenty of reasonably priced Oregon chard, much of it pretty good. For years, I had written it off as a wasteland (outside of a few bottles from Eyrie and Evesham Wood). Now, there's a lot of nice stuff made, and most of it won't break the bank. Vincent's chard is really nice for the price, better than any similarly priced chard I've tried recently.

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#25 Post by Dale McClaran »

I recently had a chance to finally taste the entire 2014 Walter Scott Chards at a McCarthy and Scheiring (Seattle wine store), heard great things here on WB about them. I was converted on the spot, the cuvée Anne was the least expensive at about $37 and a steal given the quality level. A dead ringer for a high end Mersault.
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#26 Post by Keith Levenberg »

I'm more curious why people are still paying $300 for premoxed white burgundies.

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#27 Post by Todd Hamina »

Keith Levenberg wrote:I'm more curious why people are still paying $300 for premoxed white burgundies.
This is a much better question.
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#28 Post by Scott Everson »

Sorry, I've just started looking into Oregon chards literally for the past couple of days, and my views were skewed by initial online browsing of Arterberry and Clos Electrique. I'm still surprised chardonnay can command higher prices than many pinots in Oregon, I'm happy for the producers obviously, but still just a little surprised, that's all. Oregon pinot has been such a well kept secret that I think I'm dismayed at the trajectory of chard prices (but again, happy for the producers).

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#29 Post by Michael Davidson »

Drinking a Longplay chard tonight, and it's great. Scott, there are a few expensive OR chards, but there's a ton of great wine under $30, including this one.

That said, the Clos Electrique is worth the price.

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#30 Post by dsGriswold »

Michael Davidson wrote:Drinking a Longplay chard tonight, and it's great. Scott, there are a few expensive OR chards, but there's a ton of great wine under $30, including this one.

That said, the Clos Electrique is worth the price.

Michael
I will give Longplay chard a tryout, Vincent has made the best I have tasted so far, the Clos is just too expensive for me red or white now. I've tried to interest my wife and friends in the better whites, but they just keep sucking down the PG with abandon @ half the price, so I spend the money on PN. [snort.gif]
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#31 Post by Howard Cooper »

Richard T r i m p i wrote:Very good base quality Burg Chards (i.e.: Roulot Bourgogne Blanc) are often $50+. Village level Meursault from Roulot...you're talking $100+.
Wow. You need to get out more. There is an awful lot of outstanding Bourgogne Blanc for $20-30. Got PYCM Bourgogne Blanc 2014 for $30 and 2012 Bourgogne Blanc from Dublere (which was wonderful) for $20. Could have bought a bunch of others including Carillon and Boillot in the same price range. Got village level PYCM (Meursault Narvaux) for $60. Your prices for Roulot are really not at all representative for what is out there for an awful lot of white Burgundy producers. It is like treating Harlan as reflective of California Cabernet prices.
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#32 Post by Mel Knox »

Attn John Morris,

I cannot speak for others but all the Chardonnays I have helped made have spent a minimum of 16 months in barrel. And don't forget that many bottle their Pinots before the following harvest.

I got Eric Hamacher to make Oregon chardonnay with me back in the 90s and we worked together for about six years. My point was that Oregon chardonnay needs the same care lavished on it as a fine Meursault. The goal was to make a wine that would not be compared to most California Chardonnay but to white Burgundy.

So we used special wide grain Taransaud barrels (air dried nearly four years), barrel fermented it it, left it on its lees through ML (which took forever),bottled it sixteen month after harvest, and we got some nice acclaim.
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#33 Post by Mel Knox »

Howard,
With this year's freeze those prices won't last long. And when did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 a bottle become a bargain. Somebody pointed out that the Six Million Dollar Man is now worth $30 million, so maybe I am behind the times. God knows what PYCM St Aubin will go for now...It seems just like yesterday it went for $20 and last year's got delivered here for around $40.

I think that if somebody in Oregon could create a white Burgundy style Chardonnay for around $30, a lot of wine couldbe sold.
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#34 Post by jbray23 »

I was doing a tasting in a local wine shop pouring Oregon chard in Washington.
Someone asked the same question, after hearing another person go on about how Oregon wineries are charging it 'because they can' I finally blew my lid and asked a basic question, 'have you had a Washington chard this good?'
The answer was 'yes', follow up question was 'how much was it'....
Answer $50, the Oregon chard I was pouring was $42.

So WHY is Oregon Chard so expensive... Perception.... It's all relative.
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#35 Post by Howard Cooper »

Mel Knox wrote:Howard,
With this year's freeze those prices won't last long. And when did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 a bottle become a bargain. Somebody pointed out that the Six Million Dollar Man is now worth $30 million, so maybe I am behind the times. God knows what PYCM St Aubin will go for now...It seems just like yesterday it went for $20 and last year's got delivered here for around $40.

I think that if somebody in Oregon could create a white Burgundy style Chardonnay for around $30, a lot of wine couldbe sold.
There are a lot of outstanding chardonnays from Burgundy (esp. if one includes Chablis and the Macon) for $30. The Oregon wine is going to have to be quite good. And, most likely, people who buy it will be converts from California Chardonnay, not from Burgundy. Very few American Chardonnays taste like they come from Burgundy. You can like them or dislike them, but they taste like different animals.

As for PYCM, his wines have really been a bargain for the quality of his wines, esp. the village level wines from Meursault and the St. Aubins. I hate to see the prices go up, but the wines are awfully good.

When did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 become a bargain? Look, I wish I could still get them for $5 as I did when I was younger. But, a Dublere 2012 Bourgogne Blanc I had a couple of weeks ago was the best $20 Chardonnay I have had from anywhere in a long time. So, my answer is that this one was a bargain because it is better than any comparably priced wines I can buy TODAY.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#36 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

AGREED HOWARD! I laugh at the suggestion that quality white Burgundy starts at $50. Moreover, a $25 Bourgogne blanc, or a $40 St. Aubin, is often, to my taste, better and more representative of producer style than a similarly priced Bourgogne rouge, etc. Choosing Roulot's Bourgogne is a poor example because his are amongst the most expensive Bourgogne blanc while many less expensive offerings are very good. This is to say nothing of the greatest source of white Burgundy value, Chablis. Tons and tons of great Chablis for under $40, and even quite a bit less.

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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#37 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Mel Knox wrote:I don't think the WV is a place where bargain wines are going to come from. Land is not cheap, nor is labor.
But yields are smaller than they are in California.

Wow. Really? Tons of fantastic value to be found in WV. I can think of entry level (and better) offerings from a dozen producers that represent incredible value, frequently at or under $20. Too many for me to even keep up with them all. WV is a great source of value.

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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#38 Post by Rick Allen »

Howard Cooper wrote:
Mel Knox wrote:Howard,
With this year's freeze those prices won't last long. And when did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 a bottle become a bargain. Somebody pointed out that the Six Million Dollar Man is now worth $30 million, so maybe I am behind the times. God knows what PYCM St Aubin will go for now...It seems just like yesterday it went for $20 and last year's got delivered here for around $40.

I think that if somebody in Oregon could create a white Burgundy style Chardonnay for around $30, a lot of wine couldbe sold.
There are a lot of outstanding chardonnays from Burgundy (esp. if one includes Chablis and the Macon) for $30. The Oregon wine is going to have to be quite good. And, most likely, people who buy it will be converts from California Chardonnay, not from Burgundy. Very few American Chardonnays taste like they come from Burgundy. You can like them or dislike them, but they taste like different animals.

As for PYCM, his wines have really been a bargain for the quality of his wines, esp. the village level wines from Meursault and the St. Aubins. I hate to see the prices go up, but the wines are awfully good.

When did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 become a bargain? Look, I wish I could still get them for $5 as I did when I was younger. But, a Dublere 2012 Bourgogne Blanc I had a couple of weeks ago was the best $20 Chardonnay I have had from anywhere in a long time. So, my answer is that this one was a bargain because it is better than any comparably priced wines I can buy TODAY.
So Howard, what you're saying is that, to you, White Burgundy is still a bargain, and nothing compares, yet it sounds like you haven't even tried any Oregon Chardonnays. If you haven't tried something, how do you know?

We drink 3-4 bottles of Chardonnay a week, split about evenly between White Burgundy and Oregon Chardonnay (used to be all White Burgundy), and most everything we drink costs under $25. I find the two regions comparable for quality, taste, and value in this price range. When I move into Village and Premier Cru level wines, I find it difficult to continue to afford the White Burgundies in any kind of volume, but I can still afford the Oregon versions. Does Oregon have anything that approaches Grand Cru status? Nope, not yet. Remember that Lafon and Drouhin have had a big influence in Oregon Chardonnay over the last decade, and a number of Oregon winemakers took time in 2011 (late harvest in OR, early harvest in Burgundy) to work harvest in Burgundy before picking their own grapes. I suspect that with the current disaster in Burgundy, we'll see a lot more of their winemakers over here this summer and fall.

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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#39 Post by Mel Knox »

Perhaps I should express myself more precisely. I am thinking of Meursault quality chardonnay for $30.

Once again, given the news out of Burgundy, where it appears many villages have lost 80% of their crop, this is a good time to stock up.
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#40 Post by Richard T r i m p i »

Howard Cooper wrote:Wow. You need to get out more. There is an awful lot of outstanding Bourgogne Blanc for $20-30. Got PYCM Bourgogne Blanc 2014 for $30 and 2012 Bourgogne Blanc from Dublere (which was wonderful) for $20. Could have bought a bunch of others including Carillon and Boillot in the same price range. Got village level PYCM (Meursault Narvaux) for $60. Your prices for Roulot are really not at all representative for what is out there for an awful lot of white Burgundy producers. It is like treating Harlan as reflective of California Cabernet prices.
True, getting out more would be good. I exercise outside approx. 10 hours per week...although that's probably not what you meant.

Last Saturday I was perusing the shelves at Flatiron Wines and discussing White Burgundy. The shop is typically pretty good at directing buyers to fine QPR wines in the $10 - $40 range. There were approx 15 options under $40 and 2 that our knowledgeable sales helper felt comfortable recommending. Prices quickly shot above $50 for most, probably 80% of their White Burg inventory. You won't see the same in OR stores selling OR Chards.

The Roulot prices are real...Wine-Searcher Pro. They weren't like that 5+ years ago.

I still believe there're very good White Burgs < $40, but go-to favs slide up and out of that range regularly.

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#41 Post by rfelthoven »

I predict we will be laughing at this thread topic in 5 years.
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#42 Post by Howard Cooper »

Rick Allen wrote:
Howard Cooper wrote:
Mel Knox wrote:Howard,
With this year's freeze those prices won't last long. And when did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 a bottle become a bargain. Somebody pointed out that the Six Million Dollar Man is now worth $30 million, so maybe I am behind the times. God knows what PYCM St Aubin will go for now...It seems just like yesterday it went for $20 and last year's got delivered here for around $40.

I think that if somebody in Oregon could create a white Burgundy style Chardonnay for around $30, a lot of wine couldbe sold.
There are a lot of outstanding chardonnays from Burgundy (esp. if one includes Chablis and the Macon) for $30. The Oregon wine is going to have to be quite good. And, most likely, people who buy it will be converts from California Chardonnay, not from Burgundy. Very few American Chardonnays taste like they come from Burgundy. You can like them or dislike them, but they taste like different animals.

As for PYCM, his wines have really been a bargain for the quality of his wines, esp. the village level wines from Meursault and the St. Aubins. I hate to see the prices go up, but the wines are awfully good.

When did Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge at $25 become a bargain? Look, I wish I could still get them for $5 as I did when I was younger. But, a Dublere 2012 Bourgogne Blanc I had a couple of weeks ago was the best $20 Chardonnay I have had from anywhere in a long time. So, my answer is that this one was a bargain because it is better than any comparably priced wines I can buy TODAY.
So Howard, what you're saying is that, to you, White Burgundy is still a bargain, and nothing compares, yet it sounds like you haven't even tried any Oregon Chardonnays. If you haven't tried something, how do you know?

We drink 3-4 bottles of Chardonnay a week, split about evenly between White Burgundy and Oregon Chardonnay (used to be all White Burgundy), and most everything we drink costs under $25. I find the two regions comparable for quality, taste, and value in this price range. When I move into Village and Premier Cru level wines, I find it difficult to continue to afford the White Burgundies in any kind of volume, but I can still afford the Oregon versions. Does Oregon have anything that approaches Grand Cru status? Nope, not yet. Remember that Lafon and Drouhin have had a big influence in Oregon Chardonnay over the last decade, and a number of Oregon winemakers took time in 2011 (late harvest in OR, early harvest in Burgundy) to work harvest in Burgundy before picking their own grapes. I suspect that with the current disaster in Burgundy, we'll see a lot more of their winemakers over here this summer and fall.
Where did I say that I have never tried Oregon Chardonnay? I was not putting down Oregon wine, but just correcting posts about white Burgundy prices. They were misleading and far from accurate. I would not have been able to say that I think Oregon sales would come from California lovers rather than Burgundy lovers if I had never had any.
Last edited by Howard Cooper on April 30th, 2016, 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#43 Post by Howard Cooper »

Richard T r i m p i wrote:
Howard Cooper wrote:Wow. You need to get out more. There is an awful lot of outstanding Bourgogne Blanc for $20-30. Got PYCM Bourgogne Blanc 2014 for $30 and 2012 Bourgogne Blanc from Dublere (which was wonderful) for $20. Could have bought a bunch of others including Carillon and Boillot in the same price range. Got village level PYCM (Meursault Narvaux) for $60. Your prices for Roulot are really not at all representative for what is out there for an awful lot of white Burgundy producers. It is like treating Harlan as reflective of California Cabernet prices.
True, getting out more would be good. I exercise outside approx. 10 hours per week...although that's probably not what you meant.

Last Saturday I was perusing the shelves at Flatiron Wines and discussing White Burgundy. The shop is typically pretty good at directing buyers to fine QPR wines in the $10 - $40 range. There were approx 15 options under $40 and 2 that our knowledgeable sales helper felt comfortable recommending. Prices quickly shot above $50 for most, probably 80% of their White Burg inventory. You won't see the same in OR stores selling OR Chards.

The Roulot prices are real...Wine-Searcher Pro. They weren't like that 5+ years ago.

I still believe there're very good White Burgs < $40, but go-to favs slide up and out of that range regularly.

RT
Every price I listed is current. Many of them are from here. http://bassins.com/wine/burgundy/2014-w ... rgundy.php A really excellent store but not one known for below market pricing.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#44 Post by Scott Everson »

Vincent,

You're an "alumni" of the SE Wine Collective?!? Knowing nothing about that place, and having never visited there, my uninformed notion was that is was a hipster doofus place making mostly swill. Again, I knew nothing, and heard nothing, but assumed urban winery in SE PDX = hipster doofus. Obviously I was completely wrong if you came outta there. Is there anyone else formerly or currently at SE Wine Collective to whom you'd like to give a shout out? Thanks.

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#45 Post by Scott Brunson »

Vincent Fritzsche wrote:Chard grape prices have soared. If you have an estate vineyard, not so much of an issue. But either way you can't crop too high, like the Pinot, then likely same barrel regime as the Pinot, maybe filtering where you might not filter the Reds so added cost. My point - it's not like making the chard is so much cheaper. The market hasn't been willing to go so high with it but that's changing. Most production is still under $30, but honestly I'm happy to see people striving for greater things with chard, even if top end bottlings are going for more money. The wines in general are really worth while.

Disclosure - I make OR Chard but it's only $23.
and that is 23 bucks well spent IMO [cheers.gif]
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#46 Post by Wes Barton »

Scott Everson wrote:Vincent,

You're an "alumni" of the SE Wine Collective?!? Knowing nothing about that place, and having never visited there, my uninformed notion was that is was a hipster doofus place making mostly swill. Again, I knew nothing, and heard nothing, but assumed urban winery in SE PDX = hipster doofus. Obviously I was completely wrong if you came outta there. Is there anyone else formerly or currently at SE Wine Collective to whom you'd like to give a shout out? Thanks.
I didn't find it particularly hipster. I work in urban wineries. Advantages include lower cost and convenience. Consider winemakers who live in Portland, most having day jobs. Sharing capital equipment costs. Sharing crew and/or helping each other. Much better than driving down to McMinnville twice a day to do punch downs.

One corner of the place has a tasting room with small plates. Good for going with a small group and trying things. Quite a range of wines to try, from conventional to some uncommon varieties and styles. Maybe a little hip, but not annoying or doofussy. I'll go back.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#47 Post by Scott Everson »

On my way to Great Wine Buys today to get one of their last four bottles of Vincent Chardonnay today ($23.99), I stopped by Fred Meyer since I thought they had Cameron WV chard. Roberta said they didn't have any, but she sent me to New Seasons of all places, and I grabbed their last bottle of WV Cameron from the basement ($14.99), and incredibly they had Vincent chard too ($22.99). I think Liner & Elsen still has a few bottles ($21.99) as well. SE Wine Collective was all sold out.

I guess I'll be having an Expensive Oregon Chardonnay taste-off pretty soon. It's going to be in the 80s the next few days here, so good enough reason for me. Thanks for the advice.

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#48 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Scott Everson wrote:On my way to Great Wine Buys today to get one of their last four bottles of Vincent Chardonnay today ($23.99), I stopped by Fred Meyer since I thought they had Cameron WV chard. Roberta said they didn't have any, but she sent me to New Seasons of all places, and I grabbed their last bottle of WV Cameron from the basement ($14.99), and incredibly they had Vincent chard too ($22.99). I think Liner & Elsen still has a few bottles ($21.99) as well. SE Wine Collective was all sold out.

I guess I'll be having an Expensive Oregon Chardonnay taste-off pretty soon. It's going to be in the 80s the next few days here, so good enough reason for me. Thanks for the advice.
Jumping in late to the thread, but just a couple of thoughts for wines to add to your tasting:

2 Chardonnays I like a lot are the Haden Fig Juliette & Eyrie Reserve, as well as the other usual suspects mentioned in the thread already.

I am releasing a WV bottling for the 2014 vintage later this summer at $24, so hopefully that will help with sticker shock.

Of the two 2013 Goodfellow Vineyard designates, the Durant Vineyard is $29 and I am really happy with it (open several hours ahead of time). The 2013 Richard's Cuvée is $36, not cheap but it showed very well in a line up of 1er Cru White Burgs a month ago (PYCM, Roulot Bourgogne, Picq, and Carillon.) the bottle wants most of a day open or overnight to unwind.


As to comparable cost to Pinot Noir, it's every bit the equal of the Pinot Noir in terms of cost and craft.

My Chardonnays are in barrel for 18-21 months depending upon vintage. So, as with Pinot Noir, I had to invest in 2 sets of cooperage, and my puncheons are €1250, the foudres €1800. The bottling costs and topping loss/expenses are identical, and Chardonnay fruit is sought after right now driving prices up. Also, while my cost for labor for cap management for PN is several hours per day, primary ferments for PN last weeks, while Chardonnay lasts months. I have two ferments still finishing out primary fermentation and none of the Chardonnay has gone through malo yet. So I am checking numbers and expending time and energy on whites, whiles reds have been sleeping for 6 months.

Have fun with the tasting and please post the notes!
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#49 Post by JPWilley »

Scott Everson wrote:As an aside, or to start the drift already, I recently learned about the Matello Whistling Ridge White (mercifully priced ~$20 or so). A co-fermented Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer sounds absolutely delicious!
It is insanely delicious. Killed off the last of a bottle last night with fondue while watching the radio Disney awards with my kids.
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#50 Post by JPWilley »

Scott Everson wrote:Vincent,

You're an "alumni" of the SE Wine Collective?!? Knowing nothing about that place, and having never visited there, my uninformed notion was that is was a hipster doofus place making mostly swill. Again, I knew nothing, and heard nothing, but assumed urban winery in SE PDX = hipster doofus. Obviously I was completely wrong if you came outta there. Is there anyone else formerly or currently at SE Wine Collective to whom you'd like to give a shout out? Thanks.
SE Wine Collective has a number of excellent winemakers. My two favorite wines there from my trip last summer were the Welsh Family rose and the Helioterra Melon de Bourgogne. It's a great stop for tastings and some nibbles.
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