X Novo, Chardonnay, 2017

  Walter Scott

X Novo, Chardonnay

2017 marks the second year of a Walter Scott X Novo and all we can say is, long may it continue. A plethora of over 15 different clones make up the plantings here, at 525 ft in the windy Holmes Gap, on very rocky clay soils. Complex, nuanced, and almost exotically scented, with fine grained texture on the palate as notes of white pear, lemon zest and lemongrass sit above a highly complex minerality. Given a couple of years in bottle this should put on weight and blossom into a wine of real complexity, depth and tension.

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: Eola-Amity Hills

An increasingly popular AVA for its ability to produce wines of great freshness and elevated acidities, very useful in warmer vintages. Situated in the middle of the valley, directly in front of the Van Duzer corridor, the Eola-Amity hills benefit from much of the cooling effect this corridor brings. All soil types found with perhaps a preponderance of basalt. The wines from here are some of the most energetic and focussed in the Oregon region and a hotspot for great Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir.

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.