00 Wines has set out to produce the next great American Chardonnay here in the Willamette Valley. Using the premier cool climate Chardonnay fruit in the US, and time honored artisanal white Burgundy techniques, 00 Wines has created something rare that is being set in a class alongside the greatest white wines in the world.
As a decade’s long White Burgundy lover, 00 Wines owner Chris Hermann’s dream after many years of drinking wines from the greatest producers up and down the Cote d’Or and Chablis, is to “produce extraordinarily intense, distinctive, Coche Dury like, statement Chardonnays in Oregon.”
One of the more creative and exciting processes used by 00 Wines in the making of their VGW and ESW wines, is the Black Chard method of reducing premature oxidization by exposing whole cluster Chardonnay grapes to oxygen before fermentation. This causes the “must” (grape juice) to turn a dark brown or black color. During fermentation the brown pigment falls out, and what is left has extraordinary depth and texture and is more protected against oxidation in the bottle. This method is being used in Burgundy and now in Oregon to protect the wines from premature oxidization, and potential ruination later, as the wines are aged. Using this Burgundian methodology is both daring and inspired.
Author Kathryn Cole writes: “The Oregon Chardonnays made with skin contact have a tension to them that calls to mind a violin bow sliding across strings….Served in a black glass, it could be mistaken for a red wine.”
Meanwhile, the reds are no less interesting and rare. Sourcing fruit from iconic vineyards like Shea and Hyland, the Pinot noirs begin with a painstaking process of hand clipping berries from the cluster as opposed to more traditional destemming. This process leaves the pedicels (the piece of the stem that attaches to the berry) intact and gives fragrance and spice to the resulting wine. Once destemmed, the berries are fermented in small amphora (terra cotta fermenters used in ancient times for winemaking): an uncommon practice that, in tandem with the hand-destemming, creates wines that have fragrance and texture not achievable through contemporary techniques.
00 Wines thrives on pushing the edges of technique and inspiration to create their own version of perfection. These are wines are worthy of attention.