An Oregon Wine By An Oregon Guy
John Grochau was first introduced to wine and the winemaking landscape in his early 20’s, while racing bicycles for a French team in the Loire Valley. For several years, he raced through some of France’s most revered winemaking regions including Champagne, Burgundy and the across the Loire Valley. When he returned to his hometown of Portland, Oregon, he went to work as a waiter in the restaurant business and quickly discovered an even greater appreciation for wine that pairs with food.
After more than decade selling wine in some of Portland’s finest restaurants, including a 14-year stint at Higgins, Grochau plunged into winemaking. He spent a year in Sonoma before returning to Oregon to work at Erath Winery, and then worked alongside winemaker Doug Tunnel at Brick House Vineyards for four years. His first vintage as owner and winemaker at Grochau Cellars was 2002.
2015 Grochau Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
The reviewers give John’s wines mixed reviews. He also makes the Besadien Wines in the same style. I think that is because reviewers are so expecting to taste wines that are heavily manipulated on the market that when they come across a Pinot Noir for example like this with little to no interference, their palates find it unusual. ‘Grochau strives to make wines that are balanced, textured and expressive of place. Inspired by the diversity of the Willamette Valley’s soils and microclimates, Grochau sources fruit from organic and sustainably-farmed vineyards.Grapes are hand-harvested and wines undergo a slow, natural fermentation.
Of course I had to whip out the Oregon Pinot Noir Glasses for this one. I must admit that for a 2015 that this wine is tightly wound at first as in first 2-3 hours. It was more appropriate to judge it on the second day which is what I did. Once it opens up be prepared. The color is textbook Oregon Ruby Red with a darker than normal center from the various vineyards he grabs these grapes from. His big seller is his Commuter Cuvee but the others like this he only produces about 600 cases each including some Single Vineyard offerings. The aromatics once opened up are all intense red fruits such as cherry and raspberry, floral notes, cola and spices of an oatmeal raisin cookie dough and hints of earth. On the palate a rich, juicy texture with unadulterated fruit, nice astringency (makes it food friendly) super raspberry and wild berries on a cherry frame ending with a lingering black pepper spice and slight hints of earth and mocha. A solid Oregon Pinot without the Jam Bomb 2015 Warm Vintage Style that I will score 88 out of 100 Points.
2015 was a very warm year and many Oregon ones I have tasted are slightly Jammy. This is not. This does exactly what it was meant to do. A food pairing Oregon bare to the bones Pinot Noir that expresses the vineyards, the vintage and the area where it comes from. The retail price versus quality of $25 might be just a tad high for what other great producers in Oregon are selling their Willamette Valley Wines for. With that said, a solid match for Salmon, Duck, Lamb, Or Salty aged Cheeses, and Surf And Turf. It’s one to try. Well done John!!
His Work Ethic is No B.S. Too