Cuvée Anne, Chardonnay, 2017

  Walter Scott

Cuvée Anne, Chardonnay

Their reserve blend, ‘village’ level wine brings together fruit from Sojourner, Freedom Hill, X Novo, Seven Springs and Justice - all top vineyards in their own right. The idea is to produce a wine that shows off the house style, restraint, tension and purity, while not lacking the definition and concentration of great sites. White flowers, and citrus, fennel pollen and white peach are the order of the day in this delicate, precise Willamette valley Chardonnay.

Contains Sulphites.

About Walter Scott

In the decade since their first bottling, this husband and wife team has created a reputation for producing some of Oregon’s most exciting wines. They are hard to come by, produced in tiny quantities, and beloved by critics. We would go so far as to say these are some of the most immediately impressive Chardonnays we’ve come across from the new world and so we were delighted when they offered us a direct allocation, putting these on British soils for the very first time.

With decades of experience in the Oregon wine scene, including a stint at Evening Land working alongside Dominque Lafon, the Pahlows started their own project in 2008 armed with their life savings and a with a bulging address book of local contacts. Hard working, down to earth and passionate advocates of site and place, it wasn’t long before they’d carved out an enviable roster of top vineyards from which to source fruit. Today, with the reputation they’ve built, they are one of the very few who can buy fruit from the iconic Seven Springs vineyard. Other local land owners are only too happy to have the likes Justice, Temperance Hill or X-Novo appear on a Walter Scott label.

In a region dominated by Pinot Noir, the focus here is split evenly between Pinot and Chardonnay and it is with the latter that Ken and Erica are most pushing the boundaries of what people thought Oregon could produce. Cote d’Or inspired, taut, mineral and focussed Chardonnays are the order of the day at Walter Scott. Harvest dates tend to err on the slightly earlier side and once in the winery intervention is minimal. Reds can include up to 30% whole bunch, depending on the vintage. In general new oak usage is low and relies on 300-500L barrels. The Chardonnays are put to barrel with the majority of their lees and spend a full year in wood, with very minimal battonage and careful topping up, before spending 4 months in steel to firm up before bottling. The wines that emerge are illuminating examples of Chardonnay, bright fruit overlaid with complex smoky mineral aromas. They are hugely impressive. The Pinot’s cut no less of a dash, Neal Martin describing them as “killer Pinot Noir with purity, intensity and personality” going on to say that they are “the kind of wines that I would take home to drink following a hard day's tasting.”

The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir La Combe Verte bottlings (651 and 1526 cases produced respectively) pay homage to Patricia Green, at whose cellars Ken was working when he set up Walter Scott. They are produced with exactly the same care and attention as their single vineyard bottlings, following the adage that a great domaine is marked out by quality of its entry level wines. Simply put they speak to all that is good about the Willamette Valley and the Walter Scott ethos. For those looking further up the scale, the Cuvee Ruth Pinot Noir (336 cases produced) is a special barrel selection from three top sites, Soujourner, Seven Springs and Temperance hill. This Eola-Amity Hills cuvee represents much of the mineral presence and intensity these sites are famed for, with the polish and overall elegance that one can achieve from blending sites.

Appellation: Willamette Valley

Compared to Napa, Oregon’s Willamette Valley feels like true farming country. Driving through the valley is to drive through agricultural fields, with sporadic timber framed buildings and rusting farm machinery behind white picket fenced yards. It was and still is Mennonite land and was only officially recognised as an AVA in 1983.

The hills, unsurprisingly are where the vineyards are planted, and these are still to an extent being discovered, mapped and truly understood. There are hundreds of wineries, most of them pretty small in scale, and myriad vineyards ranging in elevation from 300-1000ft with every aspect imaginable. Soil types range from Basalt, uplifted marine sedimentary soils to windblown loess. Many of the very finest spots are only now being discovered.

Pinot Noir is what the region is famous for, but as Walter Scott are demonstrating, Chardonnay is increasingly proving itself capable of greatness. Pinot Gris here, as in the hands of the Eyrie Vineyards, can also be fascinating. In weather terms the there’s far more winter rain than in California, while summers tend to be warm and dry. The valley is bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the east, protecting the valley from the worst of the desert heat, and the Coastal Range to the west, moderating rainfall and holding the worst of the cold pacific weather fronts at bay. Also notable is a low point in the coastal range known as the Van Duzer corridor which funnels cool air into the valley, drawn in by the warmer inland temperatures. This air-conditioning effect generates cooling afternoon breezes and regular evening fog, a real boon for maintaining good acidities in great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

There are 6 recognised AVAs within the larger Willamette Valley AVA, each with its own set of characteristics, detailed below. Approval for all of them happened as recently as between 2004 and 2006. Travelling roughly clockwise from the North East of the Valley, closest to Portland, they run from Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Yamhill Carlton, and Ribbon Ridge.

Grape Type: Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of the most widely-grown and versatile of all white grape varieties. As a relatively neutral grape, it offers a near transparent map of winemaking style, climate and terroir. It is the ideal grape variety for Burgundy, where it serves to mirror the complex nuances of the myriad of terroirs found in this hallowed land. Chardonnay produces a variety of wines from the minerally and unoaked styles found in Chablis, the fatter nuttier examples in Meursault, to the tropical fruit-driven versions found in the New World. It is also the major grape variety in Champagne, where it produces lively floral wines, namely in the Côte de Blancs. It can be found throughout Europe and the New World thanks to its versatility. As a non-aromatic variety, it has an affinity with oak, whether new or used, French or American.