The Wine: Chiassoso Pinot Grigio 2020
Buona Notte Chiassoso in the words of the winemaker Graham Markel:
Chiassoso is Italian for rambunctious, or full of life! This high acid, savory, baby Ramato stays on the skins for six and eight days. Organically farmed Pinot Grigio from the Cliffs of Underwood, Wa, the vineyard sits at 1500ft of elevation in the foothills of Mt Adams. This wine is generous in character with notes of herbs and black tea. Best served with fresh dishes that load up on umami flavors. I dream of fresh sardines served with fresh tomato and onion salad!
The Producer: Buona Notte Wines
Buona Notte Wines in the words of winemaker Graham Markel:
Buona Notte is very much a family endeavor. The team consists of my father and business partner, Jeff Markel, and my mother, Peggy Markel, as our culinary inspiration. Last but not least, there’s myself, Winemaker, Graham Markel.
This project is the fruit of a life full of travel and exploration by the Markel Family. I was lucky enough to explore the world with my mother, father, and sister from an early age. At five I was eating kangaroo in Australia's McLaren Vale, and at ten I was already drinking Campari and soda in the Florentine Palazzo’s. (What?.. we didn’t realize it had alcohol).
From an early age I learned how to cook at my mother's Tuscan culinary school from some of the best chefs in Italy. At 21 I got my first cooking job at The Kitchen back in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. I moved over to bartending after a year and began learning about wine and cocktails. This is where the idea of crafting my own beverages was sparked.
The Region: Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley AVA is located in western Oregon, stretching for about 120 miles south of Portland. The Willamette River runs through the entire region. Willamette Valley is famous primarily for its Pinot Noirs, and it’s become one of the world’s benchmark for this cold-climate grape varietal, in some cases rivaling Burgundy.
The development of viticulture and winemaking in Willamette Valley can be attributed to the curiosity of a handful of University of California Davis students. In the 1960s they explored the area’s potential for viticulture and found that Pinot Noir would have adapted the best, and the rest is history.
In 1979, a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley took part in the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, beating several Burgundy Pinot Noirs, which at the time were regarded as the best expression of this fascinating grape varietal. This put Oregon and especially Willamette Valley on the wine world map.
Willamette Valley has been its own AVA since 1984 but in 2002 a movement to differentiate the valley’s terroirs started. As a result, several new sub-AVAs have been established in the past fifteen years: Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Eola-Amity Hills, Yamhill-Carlton District, and Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge.
The Terroir of Willamette Valley
The climate of Willamette Valley is predominantly maritime with rainy winters and dry summers. Temperature variation between day and night can be substantial. Pinot Noir, a grape varietal that tends to ripen early and favors cool climates, has adapted perfectly to the region.
The characteristic soil formation of Willamette Valley is rich in iron and is called Jory. It can be found pretty much everywhere in the valley and it’s responsible for Willamette’s signature Pinot Noir profile.