King’s Raven Winery 2015 Chelois, Willamette Valley $52

By on March 10, 2019

Darrin Ingram’s work along the emerging Mount Hood Territory with Epyllion Vineyard is doing more than merely preserving Chelois (shell-WAH), one of the most obscure red grapes in Pacific Northwest. The variety is a story within itself, a living legacy, one of hundreds of hybrids developed in France by 19th century viticulturist Albert Seibel. These crosses propped up the French wine industry during the second half of the 1800s as phylloxera killed two out of every three vines. Several of these Seibel hybrids found a home in the Loire Valley, including Chelois, which made its way to the East Coast of the United States along with better-known siblings De Chaunac and Chancellor. According to famed British journalist Jancis Robinson, Chelois has shown itself to bud late and ripen early, making it generally well-suited for a climate such as Oregon’s Willamette Valley. While sometimes blended with fellow hybrids Baco Noir and Chambourcin, Ingram kept it pure and aged it for 24 months. Those who find hybrids fascinating will best appreciate Ingram’s winemaking. He doesn’t deny what the grape wants to be, starting with aromas of black cherry fruit leather, beet juice, flint and horehound. Montmorency cherry, Concord grapiness, pomegranate acidity and crunchy blueberry seed tannins combine for a sinewy structure that picks up earthiness and another pinch of horehound. Enjoy with gamy meats such as elk, venison or lamb. By agreement, Ingram must split half of that single barrel of juice with the grower — hence the minuscule production from his first commercial vintage with Chelois.

Rating: Recommended

Production: 12 cases

Alcohol: 12.5%

Winery website

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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