Our Black Chardonnay production method is actually a series of steps that results in a savory, complex Chardonnay in the glass. First, we complete a pre-press crush with skin contact the night before pressing. Our extreme pressing program extracts maximum tannins from the Chardonnay grape skins. The juice in the pan is dark brown color - almost like a thick French press coffee brew with brimming with fine particulates and phenolics. After the pressing, we do not add sulfites to the pan. Instead we do not disturb the the dark, full-bodied juice, which is not settled or racked, and goes directly into barrel.
The wine is cared for closely during indigenous yeast fermentation and élevage. We are committed to producing fine Chardonnays with minimal intervention and low sulfites.
“We make this wine the way it was done 60, 70, or 80 years ago in Burgundy,” says Chris Hermann, whose Oregon label 00 is a leading proponent of Black Chard. To be clear, this is an old method but not an ancient one. Black Chard isn’t an orange wine, because the period of skin contact lasts for hours rather than weeks, and the contact occurs only prior to fermentation.
Acceding that the white Burgundies of decades past weren’t as easygoing and drinkable at release as today’s Chardonnays, Hermann says he is more interested in making a wine with the structure to withstand decades of cellar age. “The idea,” he says, unapologetically, “is to explode through existing barriers and boundaries.”
Hermann cites Domaine Coche-Dury as his Chardonnay idol, so I asked Dixon Brooke, president of the domaine’s import firm, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, if he could shed any light on the vinification methodology of one of the world’s least communicative wineries. “Coche-Dury is one of the few producers in Burgundy who have continuously used the old cage press,” Brooke told me. “They have been making the wines in the same way for the past 50 years.
"Previous technologies such as the basket press and the horizontal press, gave the must early exposure to oxygen which, paradoxically, protected the wine from subsequent oxidation – just as childhood vaccinations protect against diseases in later life."
"Claire Naudin, the owner and winemaker of Domaine Naudin-Ferrand in Burgundy, has seen similar results over the last 10 years. A portion of of her Pinot Noirs get crushed, destemmed, and sulfited at the crush pad, while the rest are whole-bunch fermented and foot trodden, with no sulfur added at any point of vinification or barrel aging. The former approach allows her to maintain the style traditionally associated with the domaine, while the latter is an opportunity for her to expand the range of wines and terroir expression.
“The no-sulfur wines tend to taste older when they’re young,” Naudin says. “That goes with their color, which can have a slight orange tinge—but as the wines get older, they keep showing a remarkable freshness of fruit.” Since oxygen has entered the process more actively and earlier on, aromatic traits usually linked to aging tend to emerge earlier. As a counterpoint, the wine usually remains more aromatically stable over time, since the oxidative reactions that yield those traits have already taken place."
Outstanding New Releases From Oregon
2016 00 Wines Chardonnay Bunker Hill (Willamette Valley) - 94
I was impressed with the quality of the wines from 00, a new project founded in 2015 by Chris and Kathryn Hermann. Bunker Hill is 00’s first single vineyard Chardonnay. Made using Burgundian techniques and with a fair amount of skin contact to extract phenolics, the result is a creamy textured but ethereal style of Chardonnay, light-footed, savory and minerally.
Somm film cast member DLynn Proctor:
2016 00 Wines Chardonnay Bunker Hill (Willamette Valley) - 9.6 / 10 on Delectable app
"These wines are legend. Seriously hello Roulot."
Our VGW, EGW, and VGR blends are available on our website and in fine restaurants and retailers.
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