2021 Wits' End Chardonnay
ABOUT THE WITS' END VINEYARD
Purchased in 1987, the Wits’ End vineyard drapes down the southwestern slope of the Chehalem Mountain Range at 400’ elevation. Situated among stands of native trees and two natural springs, the property is a quintessential Willamette Valley landscape, teeming with wildlife—including owls and hawks, coyotes and even cougars. Having anticipated this site as a perfect spot for vines, the Soles’ began planting their vineyard in 2001 to Pinot Noir. Then, in 2013, they expanded it to a total of 20 planted acres, adding a block of Chardonnay in the process. Today, the property stands as testament to nearly 30 years of Willamette Valley vineyard know-how. The clonal selection is outstanding and cutting edge. The vineyard is densely planted on blonde marine sedimentary soil, derived from old ocean floor sandstone and shale, and farmed for low yields. The fresh water springs on the property flow year-round, providing irrigation capability from an old water right. The Pinot noir and Chardonnay from this vineyard are truly unique and expressive, producing wines that will age.
The Spring start to 2021 was one of the driest on record. Heaps of sunshine and warmth gave us the prospect of a nice crop of winegrapes. Just as the clusters bloomed, we received a shot of cold, wet drizzle. The result was rather poor pollination, limiting a potentially large crop.
The Summer progressed normally until record heat hit us over the 25-28 July period. By plan, most of our vineyards are setup to drip irrigate if required. Watering vines a couple of days before the 25th seemed to allow the vines to “weather” the heat.
Harvest began with Sparkling and Pinot Nero Bianco on 31 August with great acidity and fruit flavor. Much of our chardonnay and pinot noir was harvested under sunny Fall skies. A refreshingly cold rain dropped snow down to 5500’ on the 19th and 28th which benefited our later ripening Pinots! The last day of harvest was October 14. Six weeks of picking and grinning!
The wines are delicious, do not lack for acidity, and due to our ability to drip irrigate vines and chill whole clusters at the winery, fruit expression is concentrated and fresh.
ROCO Chardonnay is handpicked and then chilled overnight at 38˚ F in a large storage room. The chilled bunches are then pressed and the juice is sent to a tank. After settling in tank, the juice is inoculated and racked to neutral oak where is completes fermentation. After primary fermentation is complete, the young wine goes through malolactic fermentation in order to soften the acidity and to add further complexity. Next, the wines are racked to a mix of new and neutral French oak. There they rest for at least five months before bottling.
WINEMAKER'S TASTING NOTES
"The aromas are immediately vanilla and naschi pear, laced with lightly toasted hazelnut and creamy cashew with a hint of lemon citrus and guava.
This wine is certainly set up for long term aging. A marine-like mineral line augers from front to finish. Currently dominated by citrus Chardonnay flavors like lemon tart, crystalized lemon peel, and a touch of green Spanish olive. With time in the glass, the true future is revealed for this wine: vanilla bean married to white nectarine fruit cozied up to lovely alluring touches of green tea leaf, vanilla, and naschi pear fruit. Harbingers of age-worthiness and a bright future for this cool climate grown Chardonnay." - Rollin Soles, Winemaker