Martin Woods Koosah Vineyard Chardonnay 2021 

 January 9, 2024

By  rackhouse

Martin Woods is hidden in the oak-forested foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range, within the cool-climate McMinnville AVA, Willamette Valley. Martin Woods is both the home and winery for winemaker Evan Martin, who has been driven by a passion since 2009 for discovering the most compelling terroir in Oregon. Elegant Pinot noir and Chardonnay are the focus of the portfolio, but Riesling, Gruner, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah are more than proving extremely exciting for exploration. Evan’s small team farms according to sustainable, wholistic principles and the growers he partners with are of the same mindset. The winemaking methods are delicate and natural, but of greatest importance is that a Martin Woods wine promotes the classic qualities of purity, balance, complexity, and fine structure that can only result from great terroir combined with wholehearted dedication to the art and craft.

The American Viticulture Area, AVA, is Eola-Amity Hills and is located at an elevation of 900-1,020 feet. The south-east facing slope consists of a Volcanic Basalt soil planted in 2016. The plantings are intermixed clones of 76 and 95 Chardonnay. The grapes were whole cluster pressed, and processed without sulfur. There was no fining after 14 months in barrels that averaged 6 years old.

The Eola-Amity Hills is situated to the immediate east of the Van Duzer Corridor, the “air-conditioning” pathway through the Coast Range where marine air enters from the west and cools the Willamette Valley. At the very top elevation of the AVA sits Koosah Vineyard‒in the Coast Salish dialect the name “koosah” means “beautiful ceiling of the sky”. This “magnum opus” project of grower Kevin Chambers is without question one of the most thoughtfully planted (and riskiest) vineyards in Willamette’s history. Ripening here is patiently late and Fall rains will almost always threaten the harvest…yet that risk also offers rewards. The high elevation creates strong diurnal shifts between cold nights and warm daytime temps with extra UV intensity. This alternation gives ripe fruit expression matched to bright acidity, with aromatics that are lifted and fresh. The Parrett soil (rocky volcanic basalt with shallow topsoil) provides balanced stress to the plants, resulting in sparse canopies and loose clusters, good wind and sun exposure, and ultimately small berries with thick skins‒all of which combine to give the wines structure, framing, and definition.

The growing season showed a classic shift to cooler temps and occasional moisture of moderate intensity in late September and early October bringing the 2021 growing season to a beautiful conclusion. Despite some significant heat spikes in mid-summer, the vines supported a good crop of clean fruit (medium-small berries with thick skins) with balanced flavors and phenolic maturity.

The wine opens with notes of lemon oil, green apple, and moss There is a touch of wet soil that rounds out the first markings—remarkable textural tension between fruit, minerality & acidity—so balanced, the finish lingers for minutes—think ‘Puligny’. Of the 90+ points this vintage has received, many have stated that it needs time to decant for drinking now but will also age gracefully for a decade or more to reward your patience.

related posts:


Fleurs de Prairie – Rosé of Grenache Noir + Syrah + Carignan + Cinsault + Mourvèdre; Languedoc, France; 2023


Kung Fu Girl – Riesling; Ancient Lakes, Washington; 2023


VDR – Petit Verdot + Petit Sirah; Hames Valley, Monterey, California 2021

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