2018 Grochau Cellars, Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Bright, sharply focused and mineral driven, this 2018 Grochau Cellar Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc is still tartly fresh on the palate with some underlying maturity just starting to show through with a classic array of Alsatian style flavors, including apple, peach, melon and lemon fruits along with a fine bitter quality, wet stone, clove spice and nervy acidity, keeping things taut. This medium bodied white highlights the quality and finesse this grape can achieve here in Oregon, making Pinot Blanc a varietal to keep your eye on with many excellent examples being produced in the Willamette Valley, like two of my favorites, Kelley Fox and Ken Wright. Grochau has done some good stuff too, and while I typically am hyper focused on John’s exciting and great priced Pinot Noirs, you definitely should check out his full selection of wines. John Grochau, winemaker, says that his latest Pinot Blancs are a blend of two Eola-Amity Vineyards, RPG and Bieze, which see cool breezes and are mostly set on marine sedimentary soils. The juice, he notes, was fermented in a used puncheon sized Acacia wood barrels, which he likes for some of the whites as they are almost completely neutral and still add texture. The wine then is rested on the lees for close to 7 months before being racked and settled in tank before bottling.
As mentioned a few times here, John Grochau founded his Grochau Cellars after retiring from a career in cycling, where he once toured vineyards in France and fell in love with wine, after which he pursued his way into wine through restaurant experiences in his native Portland, often helping out at harvest in the nearby Willamette Valley, going on to become a Pinot Noir producer of note in 2002 and still is making them today. Grochau credits Doug Tunnel as an inspiration and was mentored at Doug’s famous Brick House Vineyards and learned the benefits of sustainable viticulture with the use of biodynamic and organic farming, which he exploits in many of his vineyard sites that supply grapes for his label. Beyond the critically acclaimed Pinot Noir, Grochau hand crafts an interesting collection of alternative wines, and others more common here, including his Melon de Bourgogne, a fabulous set of Gamay offerings, even some Tempranillo, Albarino, an elegant Chardonnay and this Pinot Blanc. Pinot Blanc can be a family neutral wine, less aromatic and sometimes considered a bit dull overall, but it can produce wines that are elevated, and I tend to love this grape from certain areas, Oregon now impresses me and I love the Alto Adige versions, where Cantina Terlano does exceptional Pinot Blanc, especially their Vorberg bottling. Grochau’s efforts are solid and show potential, this one certainly appealed from the start and got better and more complex with some food, I look forward to trying the latest vintage.
($23 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive