In 2003, during a visit with Francois Barmes (the very talented Alsacienne winemaker of Domaine Barmes Buecher) we tasted a wine that Francois had been making for a few years called Sept Grains. Literally "7 grapes", the wine was made by collecting all the free run juice from every cepage (grape variety), from every vineyard that Francois brought into the winery. Included was everything from the everyday Pinot Blanc to the Grand Cru Rieslings and Pinot Gris. The wine, each year, is an amalgam of the winery, and a terrific welcome mat to the wines of the domaine, and to Alsacienne wines in general.
Knowing that Oregon was successfully growing many of the same grapes, it was determined a similar blend should be attempted. "IV" pays homage to Francois' idea, an Oregon "edelzwicker" if you will. Don't be fooled by the tall "hock" bottle though--this is dry wine with serious, fruit-rich aromatics. Riesling and Pinot Blanc lead the way with nectarine, white peach, and melon aromatics. Chardonnay (all tank fermented) provides richness and weight, and Pinot Gris gives a slight minerality and freshness. It's a wine to consume now, in its youth, for its clean, generous quality, and refreshing style.
REAL is a new Oregon venture dedicated to the production of Pinot Noir, and "IV", an Alsacienne-minded blend of the 4 primary white grapes of Oregon--Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. REAL sources its grapes from vineyards like Stoller, Ridgecrest, and Corral Creek, the estate vineyards, and backbone, of Chehalem's offerings for nearly 20 years.
Under the tutelage of Chehalem's Harry Peterson-Nedry the owners of REAL concentrate on small batch production (200 cases of red, 250 of white) while leaning on the experience of one of Oregon's most accomplished and respected winemakers.
Hot summer temps, like in 2006, usually lead to full, flabby, high alcohol white wines. Patient grape growers however (especially for white grapes), are rewarded in Oregon. By early September, when real ripening and flavor development occurs, warm days were followed by very cool nights (great for acid retention), and finished wines are full of verve and nervousness, even if a little toward the rich side.
The "IV" grapes
Riesling (40%)--culled from Bill Stoller's Dundee Hills Vineyard, Chehalem's Corral Creek and Ridgecrest (4 yr. old planting), this is Oregon Riesling at its best. I wish we could bottle it on its own. Harvested as late as October 23rd (late in Oregon), the grapes had awesome natural acidity and low pH. Eating the berries straight from the vine was rewarding on its own.
Pinot Blanc (40%)--all from Stoller Vineyard. Pinot Blanc gives flesh and weight to the blend. Typically a low acid grape and fairly one-dimensional, Stoller's grapes seem to give some tropical, peachy fruited-ness to finished wine.
Pinot Gris (10%)--With Alsace as the standard, we're looking for more than quaffable white wine here. The wine is fermented in tanks but some is transferred to barrels where it sits on its lees for added weight, richness, and complexity. Grapes come from all 3 Vineyards--Stoller, Corral Creek, and Ridgecrest.
Chardonnay (10%)--100% Dijon Clones from all 3 Vineyards gives a honeyed, apple-y profile and uniquely fresh acidity (for Chardonnay). Chardonnay is used in the blend to flesh out the finished wine and give a little beeswax to the aroma palate.