Ultra Premium, Super Deluxe, you say? Perhaps a chateau in name, but Chateau Deluxe is serving up some of the least fussy, most fun white wines out of the Willamette Valley. Learn more about how Kyle Lattimer is making German style rieslings in the home of pinot noir.
There’s a time place for heritage. But like, dude, chill out. The name Chateau Deluxe is a poke at “those” wineries that take themselves a bit too seriously and seem to have forgotten they are selling old grape juice to make you better at dancing.
Kyle’s story is the Portland dream (a subset of the American dream). This particular dream begins with owning a food truck and ends with running an experimental hip winery. In between, he founded the successful Ruddick/Wood restaurant in Newberg, Oregon. But, his inner wine nerd got the better of him, and he cast off to start Chateau Deluxe.
Chateau Deluxe specializes in white and sparkling wines. They emulate the style that Kyle likes best: crisp, young, refreshing whites and sparkling wines with scads of character and a flair for the experimental. We love them with strong savory foods--blue cheese, ramen, you name it.
Today, Chateau Deluxe is still a tiny operation out of a Willamette Valley co-op. The wines have found their way into the glasses of many a Northwest hipster, but anyone who enjoys white wines of character will be excited.
Don’t let the Deluxe name fool you. These are fun, ready-to-drink wines meant to be enjoyed without pomp or circumstance.
One of our wine partners stopped by to drop off wine last Tuesday morning. He suggested that we do an impromptu tasting. It was 9:22am and I had 8 minutes before my next Zoom meeting. I asked to scale back the proposed six flight tasting to a much more reasonable five flight tasting because I am a responsible adult.
During the tasting, a completely unexpected, earthy smelling blend was brought out for some early morning market research. It might have been the fact that it was a Tuesday morning and I was dreading my next meeting, but I loved it. It’s a blend across 4 vintages (2016-2019) and finally blended in the spring of 2020. This wine is like a college party. Four different vintages of an organism sloshing around with alcohol. It’s a whole lot of trouble and a whole lot of fun.
When drinking, chill it down and give it a few minutes to rest once opened for the reduction to blow off. But once it does, this cheeky, unfiltered white will reward your patience!
Buy this wine if you want:
Château Deluxe Grand Blanc $17.50
[Compare at $23]. [Delivery timeline 2 weeks]
"This wine needs a little air and time to breathe before the minerality shines through. It is a soda fountain suicide-type blend with a remarkable blend of four different vintages." - Winemaker's take
WT: What is like being a winemaker making German style rieslings in the home of pinot noir? Why did you go in that direction?
Kyle: Plainly, those were the wines I was most excited about drinking. And, in a wine label, the only way to make the business run is to do something different. Thankfully it’s what I would have done anyway.
A young Kyle mulling over tasting notes after Nickelodeon's trademark green slime
WT: Tell us about some of your experiments in fermenting sparkling wines
Kyle: I’ve been experimenting with what I call ‘mixed method’. I use next year’s juice to ferment wine that has been in barrel for 10-12 months from the last vintage.
WT: Why does that matter?
Kyle: It helps me keep from adding sugar super during fermentation. Adding sugar is kind of like adding flavorless booze. This ended up being a good way to keep the wines more approachable, lower alcohol. This method allows me to have a great fermentation but keeping the flavors really interesting.
The last couple months have been harvest time for growers in the Pacific Northwest and California. Unfortunately, the dumpster fire that is 2020 has made this a stressful time for your favorite winemakers.
One of the biggest challenges this time around has been the smoke. Smoke taint is an increasing hazard for the wine industry.
Here’s how it works:
If there is substantial fire activity near where the grapes are grown, the ash from the smoke will land on the grapes. It can’t simply be washed off. Chemical compounds from the ash seep through the skin, and bond with the sugars. Worst of all, they can’t be detected by smell or taste until fermentation. Yikes.
While “smokiness” is sometimes a positive characteristic of alcohols (brown liquor in particular), smoke taint is not something you’d like in your wine. It can be described as harsh, medicinal, or eating old cigarette butts.
Thankfully, there are numerous mitigation strategies. Kyle says that he has been able to manage through by carefully planning the timing of his process and checking incessantly for signs of contamination. But, as wildfires become a sad reality in many US winegrowing regions, winemakers have yet another serious risk to navigate.