This wine absolutely rocked us. It is one of the most thrilling Northwest white wines we've tasted in our combined 16 years of experience and frankly, one of the most thrilling Northwest wines we've tasted, period.
Andy brought a sample of it from a big Washington tasting he attended. I asked "what's up with the Chenin?" His reply: "it's #%&!ing awesome." It took one sip to convince me.
The texture, the amazing richness -- we love it for that alone. It's so vibrant and fresh, too, layering fruit, floral, and mineral tones in perfect harmony. It exudes succulent pear and apple, with ribbons of lemon, chamomile, beeswax, and wet stones in a pristine mountain stream. The wine's presence is so incredibly persistent, thanks to its weight and acidity, and it finishes cleanly and refreshingly. Just 250 cases made. - Marcus
There's a little Chenin revival going on in Washington, mostly driven by old vines. John Bookwalter and winemaker Caleb Foster were looking for a dry white wine that wasn't Chardonnay, and wasn't Semillon/Sauvignon blanc. When the topic of a Chenin blanc vineyard source came up, John suggested they go back to the farm where his dad made Chenin in the '80s: Willard Vineyard in Yakima.
"You can't plant old vines; you have to have them. You have to support the farmers, you have to buy the grapes each year, you have to make beautiful wine from them," said Caleb.
Planted in 1980, this high elevation site does very well in hot vintages like 2014. "The big, old, bushy vines, you want to kind of leave them alone, let them have a thick canopy. I don't want to look at the plant and see the fruit. I want pear, apple, green tea and chamomile tones in Chenin, and I can only get those if the fruit is shaded."
Picked October 20th, with great acids; Caleb wanted a fresh Chenin with richness. Man did he get it. A couple hours of skin contact enhanced the richness, as did fermentation in a concrete egg (for rounder flavors with bigger texture).
Caleb kept things as natural as possible -- no additions or adjustments. "I want the whole thing, the 'whole food' to be served."