Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

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#51 Post by Vincent Fritzsche »

I was at the SE Wine Collective for its first three years, with Division, Helioterra, Bow & Arrow (for a year) and Willful, then newer producers like Jackalope, Jasper Sisco, James Rahn, Fullerton, etc..., all worth checking out. Too close to pick favorites but definitely check out the tasting bar. They serve current producers and us old ones, and lots of wines from other local producers and around the world.

Definitely don't write off urban wineries for the potential hipster factor. Some producers definitely have more profile than others but they're all just real people making wine and have to fight a bit against that odd bias that wineries have to be in the country. It's used to be that Napa had the wines and SF had the restaurants. But I hear there are a few producers in the city proper and apparently some decent food outlets in Napa valley. Rules can be broken! ;)
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#52 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

The Helioterra Melon de Bourgogne is dynamite. Anne isn't at SE Wine Collective anymore but her wines are excellent.
...a little strange to hear Vincent refer to himself as one of the old ones. It made me feel ancient, and guys like Jim Anderson and Todd Hamina sound like the mummy kings of the Willamette Valley ;)
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#53 Post by Vincent Fritzsche »

Old for the collective!! :)

But it's true you're a geezer Marcus. ;) ;)
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#54 Post by Todd Hamina »

So long as I'm king of something I'm good.
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#55 Post by Scott Everson »

Photos of those currently running the SE Wine Collective are frighteningly hipster, but I love Cadence and they're pretty urban. Either way, I have to seriously respect any place who can claim to have sold the first legal growler of wine in America. That's one of my wine dreams actually, to be able to roll up to a winery and have them fill my jug straight from one of their barrels.


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#57 Post by Jim Anderson »

I want that cool, smooth bald head of that mummy dude in those Mummy movies. I mean if I'm going to get bald at some point I want it to look awesome. And super powers. I want those too.

Am I older than Marcus and Todd? I have no idea. I sure don't act my age, whatever that means.
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#58 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Ha! Jim, I know you have superpowers!

I don't know that you're older than me in years, but you are older in vine vintages.
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#59 Post by Richard T r i m p i »

Marcus, in "curmudgeon years", Jim's got you shellacked! [stirthepothal.gif]

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#60 Post by Jim Anderson »

Richard T r i m p i wrote:Marcus, in "curmudgeon years", Jim's got you shellacked! [stirthepothal.gif]

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#61 Post by Richard T r i m p i »

Jim, you're so cute when you're gruff. flirtysmile If only you could lose the hair.

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#62 Post by Merrill Lindquist »

I haven't read every word here, but has anyone else tried the St. Innocent 2014 Freedom Hill Chardonnay? At $26 retail, this is one crazy-good wine. At least I think so (and I just followed up this impulse with my wallet). Lemony honeysuckle, lots of great mouthfeel, full and balanced. Lingering aftertaste. I tend to be sensitive to acid, and this one is not giving me any problem (hey, it's 5:00 somewhere).

I felt this way when I had my first Ceritas. flirtysmile
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#63 Post by Scott Tallman »

I've not had the St Innocent, but I really enjoy Walter Scott's Freedom Hill Chardonnay. Your post further proves the absurdity of this thread's title.
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#64 Post by Mel Knox »

What people think of as expensive or inexpensive can be a function of perception rather than reality.
I see people selling Trousseau for $30 when nobody could give it away at $15. It became hip, so now it's a bargain at a higher price.

To some a $50 Napa Cab is a bargain whereas a $50 Sonoma Pinot is expensive.

An English friend used to say that behind every big sale is a big argument. In the '70s many california wineries staged blind tasting of their cabernet and a host of first growths. In this situation one does not have to win the tasting, merely do well. The Napa cab at 40% the price of the first growth becomes a bargain.

One problem w Syrah sales is that the wines are compared to Cotes duRhone reds and Australian Shirazes, not to Hermitage and Cote Rotie.

The secret to selling Chardonnay from Oregon, in my not so humble opinion, is to look at white Burgundy as a benchmark, not at Calif chardonnay. Get your wine compared to Meursault, not macon Villages or Sonoma Cutrer.

St Innocent wines are way under priced.
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#65 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

I couldn't agree more.
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#66 Post by Scott Everson »

When does the Whistling Ridge White come out this year?

I picked up a Durant chardonnay today ($24 at Vinopolis, I hope that's not insulting), so if I ever get to have my Expensive Oregon Chardonnay taste off (my 5 month old daughter is a monster, it might be years from now), I've decided I'm going to pit the 2014s Vincent, Goodfellow Durant, and Cameron WV against another monster - Rombauer. I know it's nearly apples and oranges, citrus vs liquid buttered popcorn perhaps, but I can't wait to taste the differences. Normally I open bottles with my wife, my friend, and his girlfriend, but that's a helluva lot of chardonnay to drink. I might ask Vincent to come over to help us polish some of this stuff off, especially since something red is going to be opened after we whack down the chardonnay.

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#67 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

That's a great price from Vinopolis!

I can't help but believe that the Rombauer will stand out...

The 2015 Whistling Ridge Blanc is due in July. I will see if there is any of the 2014 in Portland, I know Tacoma Wine Merchants got the last of it.
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#68 Post by dsGriswold »

I think it is time to start seriously drinking OR Chard. I've pretty well stocked up on PN and I really do not like much of anything else these days. Vincent's was impressive and I get a few and love them. I need to get beyond that whites are for wusses and real men drink red. [wow.gif]
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#69 Post by Scott Everson »

Careful Grandpa Gris. You are one of the kindest people here, but wusses is combination of wimp and puss - puss being short for pussy, a pejorative for vagina. We can't have that sexist talk of wimpy vaginas any longer on this board any more, not in my thread at least. It's like yesterday, I was talking to the owner of Beaverton Triumph about putting some luggage racking on my Bonneville [before buying the Goodfellow Durant Chardonnay (staying on topic)], and one of us used the term sissy bar. I realized we probably can't say that either.

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#70 Post by Dennis Kanagie »

Scott Everson wrote:Careful Grandpa Gris. You are one of the kindest people here, but wusses is combination of wimp and puss - puss being short for pussy, a pejorative for vagina. We can't have that sexist talk of wimpy vaginas any longer on this board any more, not in my thread at least. It's like yesterday, I was talking to the owner of Beaverton Triumph about putting some luggage racking on my Bonneville [before buying the Goodfellow Durant Chardonnay (staying on topic)], and one of us used the term sissy bar. I realized we probably can't say that either.
Better watch who you say "rack" to also. [snort.gif] This used to be the one hobby you could tell a female wine collector that she had a nice rack and NOT get slapped. [smileyvault-ban.gif]
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#71 Post by Mel Knox »

I have a friend who sold barrel racks. She used to say she had the nicest rack in the valley.

I would like to subvert this thread a bit to talk about the issue of what people think is expensive and what people think is a bargain.

For example, ten years ago nobody would have sold St Aubin for $40. Now people stand in line to buy Pierre-Yves' version. Lodi mataro for $25?? Same thing. Ten years ago it would have been laughed at and now Teegan has got people drooling over it.


The question is : can the ORCA's --the people making chardonnay in Oregon--- charm people the way Teegan does?? Ultimately the wine has to be the charmer. Personality only goes so far.
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#72 Post by Scott Tallman »

To me, there is a different between whether a wine is expensive and whether it is a good value, worth the tarriff, good QPR, etc. I read Scott's original post as referring to the former concept.

While $20-30 for a bottle of wine is expensive to the majority of people around the world, I struggle to see how anyone frequenting this board would consider that price range expensive. Views on what is expensive, just like QPR, are of course personal. For me, I consider anything over $100 expensive. I rarely buy anything over that price point and virtually all of my purchases are in the $17-75 range.

As for OR Chard, the producers I buy from frequently charm me (both with their wines and their personalities). I think their bottlings - from the lowest to the highest price points - are absolutely worth the tarriff. For me, some are screaming deals and the rest are very fairly priced IMO.
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#73 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Honestly I think only the OP has suggested that OR Chardonnay is expensive, and no one has agreed. The issue for me is just whether I really need to buy more Chardonnay. I mainly buy Chablis, a bit of white Burgundy. I would gladly try some of my preferred OR PN producers' chards, but I don't tend to come across them in the market locally and never feel driven to search them out. I may remedy that in the future, but it would likely be as an "add-on" to a pinot order. Still, one has to start somewhere.

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#74 Post by Scott Everson »

Speaking for the OP, I can say that I started this thread in considering that Oregon makes at least near world class pinot, and tons of examples can be found for ~$40 up here. Even if you don't think Oregon makes near world class pinot, many people still think $40 spent in Oregon is better spent here than $80 in Burgundy. I've only been back up in Oregon for two years, and honestly before someone posted the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium thread earlier this year, I probably could not have name one person making Oregon chardonnay. Therefore, when I started to browse online for good Oregon chardonnay, what with summer coming up, I was taken aback at the prices I FIRST uncovered, prices for Clos Electrique, Arterberry - even Trisaetum's chard costs more than most of their reds. I found this surprising because of the axiom that reds are always costlier to produce, but more importantly that since I couldn't name one person making Oregon chard, I assumed or presumed no one was making anything close to near world class chardonnay, or that certainly Oregon didn't have the respect to command such prices. And then I got of tons of good suggestions from this and other posts, so there, that's the deal, or was the deal.

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#75 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

I wasn't trying to be overly harsh Scott, and you've been very clear and open to new ideas throughout the thread. No harm done, and a good list of wines to try as a result.

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#76 Post by Greg Malcolm »

Michael Powers wrote:I would gladly try some of my preferred OR PN producers' chards, but I don't tend to come across them in the market locally and never feel driven to search them out. I may remedy that in the future, but it would likely be as an "add-on" to a pinot order. Still, one has to start somewhere.
Unfortunately, there is not a wide assortment of Oregon wines, red or white, offered here in our St. Louis market -- at least not the Oregon wines that I'm typically interested in purchasing.

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#77 Post by Doug Schulman »

Michael Davidson wrote: That said, the Clos Electrique is worth the price.
Absolutely.

I actually think Oregon generally offers good to excellent value in Chardonnay compared to most other cool climate areas.
Howard Cooper wrote: There are a lot of outstanding chardonnays from Burgundy (esp. if one includes Chablis and the Macon) for $30.
[rofl.gif]
We have very different definitions of "outstanding". I find plenty of joy in quite a few Burgundies in the $20-$35 range, but I wouldn't call any of them outstanding.

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#78 Post by Lee Short »

I'd agree that outstanding burgs in that price range are pretty thin on the ground. But Louis Michel Chablis Montee de Tonnerre is in that zone, as are a number of other really fantastic Chablis from various producers, even the standard bearers are priced way above that.

And I'll admit to vast ignorance about the better wines of the Macon. Most of the 'better' examples that I've had served by friends weren't really my cup of tea, so I just have put any effort into exploring them.

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#79 Post by MandyC »

Tasted a very nice chardonnay from Crowley at New Seasons today. Definitely worth the $25.
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#80 Post by Rick Allen »

I had a 2014 Walter Scott Willamette Valley last night that was superb, and definitely a step above the Bourgognes (Carillon, Morey, Pernot, Girardin, Roche de Bellene) we have been drinking. Tight and racy, with lemon curd and a hint of matchstick in the nose, and lemons and granny smith apple on the palate. Good weight and great finish. This was in that sub $25 category though, unfortunately, now sold out.

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#81 Post by rfelthoven »

Rick Allen wrote:I had a 2014 Walter Scott Willamette Valley last night that was superb, and definitely a step above the Bourgognes (Carillon, Morey, Pernot, Girardin, Roche de Bellene) we have been drinking. Tight and racy, with lemon curd and a hint of matchstick in the nose, and lemons and granny smith apple on the palate. Good weight and great finish. This was in that sub $25 category though, unfortunately, now sold out.
Rick -- it's interesting that you noted matchstick. I've recently opened a couple of Marcus's 2013 Richard's cuvees and kept picking that up in both, but hadn't noticed that in earlier years. Is that from sulphur additions or what? Marcus?
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#82 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Ron-I have been looking for a bit more reduction in the wines, and in Chardonnay that often translates into matchstick. The larger barrels that started using in 2013 are more oxygen starved and help shift the wines that direction.
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#83 Post by Richard T r i m p i »

Don't make them too Leflaive-like! neener

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#84 Post by rfelthoven »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote:Ron-I have been looking for a bit more reduction in the wines, and in Chardonnay that often translates into matchstick. The larger barrels that started using in 2013 are more oxygen starved and help shift the wines that direction.
Cool -- good to know. I hadn't seen that in any of the TNs to date but I picked it up and thought maybe it was just me. I guess that means I should sit on these for a while. In all honesty I may have dug into more like 4 of the case I bought recently. Shame on me.
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#85 Post by Bob Hughes »

Your reply is not intuitive to me, Marcus - why would a larger barrel be more "oxygen-starved"?

I would think that oxygen absorption would be more impacted by the "tightness" of the wood grain - in other words, the tighter the grain, the less oxygen that is absorbed.

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#86 Post by Nolan E »

More volume but same headspace, evaporation rate and bunghole size? Same idea for a magnum vs 750.
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#87 Post by Drew Procaccini »

I think Chehalem has a couple of screaming good Chardonnays (in admittedly very different styles). The INOX at $20 or so is crisp, fragrant and clean while the Ian's Reserve ($40-ish I think) is rich, serious and will go toe to toe with more than a few village level Burgundies.
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#88 Post by Dennis Kanagie »

Nolan E wrote: bunghole
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#89 Post by Scott Everson »

A couple of weeks ago my friend and I gunned down a bottle of 2014 Vincent Chardonnay during the first or second quarter of a Trail Blazers game. I thought it was good, but our type of drinking that night did not lead to real tasting notes, nor does it almost ever honestly. What was most remarkable about the Vincent was that at the end of the night, there were a few drops left, so opened my mouth and turned the bottle upside down, waiting to get nourishment like a little baby bird waiting for regurgitated worms or fish from mom. Those few drops left after a bunch of hours-worth of air were incredible! I did open the bottle a couple hours before we drank it, but I'm thinking it needed a lot more time.

The bottle of Cameron WV Chardonnay was really great too, it's hard to find $15 better well spent.

I'm still sitting on a Goodfellow 2013 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay, but I can say I'm sold on Oregon Chardonnay, as long as it's less than $30.

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#90 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Greg Malcolm wrote:
Michael Powers wrote:I would gladly try some of my preferred OR PN producers' chards, but I don't tend to come across them in the market locally and never feel driven to search them out. I may remedy that in the future, but it would likely be as an "add-on" to a pinot order. Still, one has to start somewhere.
Unfortunately, there is not a wide assortment of Oregon wines, red or white, offered here in our St. Louis market -- at least not the Oregon wines that I'm typically interested in purchasing.
I agree. Evesham is about the only Oregon PN that I see locally that I actually want to buy, and I only see a couple of their pinots, no whites. I get my Oregon wines from closer to the source.

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#91 Post by Doug Schulman »

Bob Hughes wrote:Your reply is not intuitive to me, Marcus - why would a larger barrel be more "oxygen-starved"?

I would think that oxygen absorption would be more impacted by the "tightness" of the wood grain - in other words, the tighter the grain, the less oxygen that is absorbed.
Think about the ratio of surface area to volume. It makes sense.

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#92 Post by Mel Knox »

There is a small amount of air in the wood itself, but most air gets into the wine via racking, topping etc. The longer wood is dried the more oxygen-containing micropores are formed.
Somewhere in my office I have a chart showing surface to volume ratios of different sized barrels.

Tasting the same wine in different sized barrels is always instructive.
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#93 Post by Scott Everson »

Today while pulling into the parking lot at Liner & Elsen, I saw a guy outside using a hand truck loading boxes from his really janky mid-90s minivan. Wouldn't you know it, it was John Paul of Cameron Winery. Since I'm still on paternity leave and had my daughter in tow, I had to ask for a photo. I was a little nervous asking him, thinking he might be offended or annoyed, but he was totally cool about it, really cool actually.

I told him his 2014 WV chardonnay is just about the best $15 I've spent on wine in quite some time. I didn't mention the reason I was there was to pick up a case a Tyrus Evan closeout Ciel du Cheval claret, one of the best $18 I've ever spent on a bottle (or $16 with a case discount). In any case John Paul he said he is coming out soon with his 2015 WV Chardonnay, but that he actually has about 30 cases left of the 2014, even though everyone thinks he's sold out of it. So, if you want some great cheap Oregon chard, get Liner & Elsen to get you some 2014, or wait for the '15 to drop soon.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#94 Post by dsGriswold »

You cannot keep an old curmudgeon from warming up to a little tyke. It works for me all the time. [cheers.gif]
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#95 Post by Brandon J. »

I LOVE that Cameron WV chard. It's so good for $15. There's so much good fruit along with a hint of RS (I don't know if there is or not) but the acid washes everything away.

I wonder if the '15 is similar. If that bottling had a little less fruit and sharper acid....I would have bought as many cases as I could afford.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#96 Post by Nolan E »

Just stopped in at Grochau, both 2014 Chardonnays were great, one at $23 and one at $32. Both single vineyard, though only one labeled with the vineyard.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#97 Post by MandyC »

Is anyone familiar with the Morgen Long Chardonnay released today? I'm intrigued. This is an appropriate thread since it's priced at $50.
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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#98 Post by Richard T r i m p i »

Mandy, I'm cautious about new producers and new releases (haven't heard of that one), especially at "expensive" prices. Hype and excitement are great...but rarely an overpowering reason to stray from the tried and true. Especially when consistent performers are available at better prices. It'd be fun to taste that particular wine, but it won't be me parting with half a Ben Franklin. Post a note if you try it.

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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#99 Post by Rick Allen »

This is an unfortunate development in Oregon. The old model was to price the initial release at a more reasonable price to build an email list and customer recognition. Now it appears that people try to build their "story" in social media, and, if successful, price their wines at the high end. I'm not sure if that is a good strategy at $50 for a Chardonnay. When I can buy dozens of top-notch Chardonnays from proven producers for less money, why?

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Why is Oregon chardonnay so expensive?

#100 Post by Jim Anderson »

Rick Allen wrote:This is an unfortunate development in Oregon. The old model was to price the initial release at a more reasonable price to build an email list and customer recognition. Now it appears that people try to build their "story" in social media, and, if successful, price their wines at the high end. I'm not sure if that is a good strategy at $50 for a Chardonnay. When I can buy dozens of top-notch Chardonnays from proven producers for less money, why?
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I'd say I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon but jeez someone has to do it in Oregon. Rick points out an ever increasing phenomenon that is becoming ever more common. New wines from un-established wineries run by (oft times) folks with minimal or embellished credentials charging very high prices for first releases. It's not a good look for Oregon IMO. Not sure where it goes or what it leads to. Not trying to be the "get off my lawn" guy but when I know what I (and Patty) and a LOT of friends and colleagues went through to get to certain places (and prices) it is disheartening to see first vintage places doubling down right out of the gate.
Co-owner, Patricia Green Cellars

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