Hello friends. The response to our library Pinot offer from August Cellars a month ago has been terrific. I know many of you opened bottles over Thanksgiving, and I know that has led to reorder requests. We’ve now sold through about 90% of our stash, so we’re left with just a handful of cases remaining. I’ll include a reorder link at the bottom of today’s offer for those interested.
The additional good news is that the strong response to the library Pinot offer allows us to continue our plundering of this exceptional cellar of well-aged Oregon-made wines.
We went back and forth and back and forth about the pricing of today’s wine. Because it’s a really lovely example of mature northwest Chardonnay, and because the winery prices it at $16. And my fear was that if we priced it too low, we’d be ignored by the “good wine can’t cost less than $15” subset of our list.
Ultimately, as you can see, we did settle on a sub-$15 price, and that’s because I want to make library Chardonnay as accessible as possible to all our list members, in hopes that many of you will be as seduced as I am by this category.
The story of this wine is very much in keeping with the story of that 2006 Pinot, so I’ll now borrow liberally from that offer: It began in July. On the seventh day of the seventh month of 2015, I received a mysterious, intriguing e-mail from a member of Full Pull’s Vast Network of Wine Spies™.
The subject: August. The body: Remind me to talk to you about these wines. No dist in WA, and the wine is pretty [EXPLETIVE] good for the money.
In September, the spy came in from the cold, carrying library samples from August Cellars. I had actually visited August Cellars several years ago, but I didn’t know the winery even had its own label. It’s a co-op facility in Newberg, hosting shared winemaking and tasting-room facilities for a number of wineries. One of those wineries is Crowley, and that’s where I first met Tyson Crowley and tasted his wines way back when. As far as I knew at the time, August Cellars simply provided space and facilities for other wineries. As it turns out, not true.
They’ve produced wine under their own label since 2002, but winemaking is only one part of a multi-generational, multi-agricultural business. In 1890, August Schaad (the winery’s namesake) emigrated from Germany to the United States. August’s oldest son, Clarence Schaad, purchased the winery’s 42-acre property in 1942, and the farm is currently run by Clarence’s two surviving children, Lewis and Grace. About half of the farmland is devoted to mature English Walnut trees, the remainder split among Italian plums, woods, the winery itself, and yes, some Pinot Noir vines.
The winery is managed by Lewis Schaad’s two sons, Jim and Tom, with Jim in charge of winemaking. Jim would be August’s great grandson, for those counting at home. The story reminds me a little of Olsen Estates here in Washington, where a family with multiple generations of farming success gets into the winemaking business, and does it really well, but doesn’t really focus all that much on the sales side of things. Of course, with Olsen, that eventually led to the dissolution of the winery, but I don’t get the sense that’s the fate for August Cellars. They have their tenant wineries, and they seem happy enough to let their own-label wines sell as they sell, mature as they mature.
Frankly, I’m shocked that somebody in Oregon hasn’t already swooped in and grabbed this wine. Happily shocked. Their loss is our list members’ gain. I remember having a life-changing experience several years ago now when a buddy brought a 1996 Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay to a tasting group. That wine was face-meltingly good, and it sparked a strong interest in older northwest Chardonnays.
And no, I’m not going to try to convince you that this wine is the equal of that ’96 Eyrie, but as a simulacrum, it’s pretty damned compelling, especially at a price well below the $108.45 we offered that ’96 at way back when. This wine actually comes from both Oregon (55%) and Washington (45%) vineyards, all Dijon-clone material. It spent a year in French oak (20% new) before bottling in late 2008. You know, like seven [BLEEPING] years ago! Listed alc is 13%.
It pours a lovely gold in the glass. And oh my word do I love a nose like this, which marries Chardonnay fruit (apple, lemon, peach) to the kind of tertiary savory tones that get people so excited about Chardonnay as a vehicle for ageing. Notes like hazelnut and sweet corn and fresh hay. Complex to be sure, and wonderful for just how different it is from younger white wines. The palate is in a beautiful spot. I’d take a stab at a peak drinking window here from 2009-2019, so we’re somewhere just past the middle: a beautiful, immediate-gratification place to access any wine. Fresh and dried fruits are propped up by a sturdy mineral-acid spine, and the savory/nutty notes continue to delight all the way through to the charming, mouthwatering finish.
Originally offered November 4, 2015, and we’re at about 10% remaining, so that’s all I’ll say.
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of Chardonnay and 4 bottles of Pinot, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines are in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.