2018 Grochau Cellars, Gamay Noir, Redford-Welte Farm Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
John Grochau’s latest Redford-Welte Gamay is a beautiful wine with loads of varietal purity and character, very much in the mold of a Thivin Cote de Bouilly Cru Beaujolais with a dark fruited profile, a crunch of mineral, an exotic array of spices and juicy acidity, making for a thrilling and well made effort that impresses with its complexity and structural quality. The 2018 vintage gave a few headaches and lots of stress, but in the end the wines here in the Willamette Valley turned out fresh and delightful, much better than what many thought, especially after some heavy rains came down in early September, causing some to pick early and lose depth, though those that rode them out were rewarded with some warm dry days that brought the vines back into good health and the grapes ended up with nice concentration, a depth of flavor and a bright inner energy, all of which comes through sublimely here in the 2018 Redford-Welte Farm Gamay. This version of Gamay from Grochau comes from the Eola-Amity Hills and all organic vines set on a combination of hillside soils with the volcanic Jory, red and iron rich and the Nekia complex series that are rocky, well drained and include colluvium from basalt and tuffaceous materials. The vintage gave Grochau a lovely medium bodied palate with layers of dark berries, plum, black cherry, strawberry and tart currant fruits along with racy cinnamon, bitter herbs, walnut, anise and liquid peony. I really enjoyed Grochau’s Twelve Oaks Estate Gamay as well, but I maybe leaning towards this Redford-Welte Farm, it is showing exceptionally well right now and is superb with food and a wide range of dishes, even pairing nicely with my mix of left-overs!
Grochau Cellars, founded in around 2002, has been working with sustainable family vineyards since day one and continues to produce high quality and transparent wines from sites throughout Oregon’s Willamette Valley and is especially known for an excellent set of Pinot Noirs, including John’s Commuter Cuvée, which is one of the state’s best values, as well as the single vineyard series, each with their own distinct personalities. I am a big fan of these wines and have followed John’s efforts since meeting him and tasting his wines at a trade show in San Francisco, where he and his wines really left an impression, and I have now got excited by his Gamay offerings, in particular this one from the Redford-Welte Farm, a certified organic vineyard the Eola-Amity Hills AVA that sits on an eastern-facing slope, which gives this vineyard a warm and ripe exposure and a pleasing textural mouth feel. The small berry size gave this wine a bit of grip, and while taut, there is an elegance here and aromatics are beautiful and floral with a subtle red spice and earthiness that is completely seductive in the glass. John Grochau, an ex-professional cyclist, was mentored in winemaking by the legendary Doug Tunnell at the famous Brick House Vineyards in Ribbon Ridge, where Grochau worked for four years, before striking out on his own. He took to winemaking like a duck to water and soaked up his Brick House experience, influencing him to work with traditional Burgundian methods and searching out organic and biodynamic grapes, and where he got to work with true Gamay, all of which paid off in spades. His authentic wines are all crafted with slow and natural fermentations, the use of whole bunches and lengthy elevage with well judged use of oak, as well as employing some concrete tank aging, all to allow the terroir and vintage to show through, as this tasty Gamay shows with some flair!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive