You’ve probably heard of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and later the Holy Roman Emperor. But have heard the story about what his fourth wife did to his Burgundian vineyard? Luitgard grew so weary of her husband’s red wine-stained beard that she ordered all his red grapevines removed. Being a smart and sensible woman, she had them replaced with white varietals Pinot blanc and Chardonnay so she would never again have to suffer looking at Charlemagne’s stained beard!
In fact, his hilltop vineyard is still planted with Chardonnay, the only grape now permitted there by the French government. Little did Luitgard know the lasting impression she would make on the entire area surrounding his husband’s vineyards. As a tribute to the Corton-Charlemagne growing region in Burgundy, the man himself, as well as his practical wife, Paul O’Brien winery owners Scott Kelley and Dyson DeMara chose to christen their Chardonnay and Pinot blanc white blend with the name Charlemagne.
Made using grapes grown in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, they were whole cluster pressed and co-fermented in 100% French oak, of which 10% was new. After 8 months on the lees (also known as sur lie), and regular stirring, the texture in this wine is on point and hard to believe it was all achieved without the use of any malolactic fermentation. By co-fermenting the two varietals, the high acid levels of the Pinot blanc really elevated the Chardonnay to new heights. I highly recommend ordering some so you can try it for yourself!
Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at email@example.com & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.