Wrapping up Oregon wine month, a final taste of some tasty Chardonnays
In the homestretch of Oregon wine month, here’s a roundup of noteworthy Chardonnays for spring into summer. (But heck, drink them all year ‘round, as I did!)
30A Chardonnay 2019, Willamette Valley AVA. named for Florida’s seaside highway. a more oxidized styled with baked yellow apple, similar to a late harvest of Jura styles. Good with tortellini sausage soup, which helps mitigate the 13.4% abv.
Adelsheim “Staking Claim” 2017, Chehalem Mountains AVA. Pale gold but the nearly clear color predicts of the purity of the fruit—pear and apples and a tinge of oak that provides a nice envelop but not a distraction. Medium+ bodied with a pleasant weight. Food friendly and sturdy enough to stand up to sausage, white bean soup and an impending ice storm (tasted in winter).
Carabella 2018 Dijon Clones Chehalem Mountains AVA. This showed a deeper fruit profile with good complexity. Soft and round, a little caramel tone; toffee-like on the finish.
Chemistry Chardonnay 2019, Willamette Valley AVA. Launched in 2018 as a collaboration between Stoller and Chehalem, heritage pioneers in the valley. Clean and direct, oak plays subtext to the apple and pear. Beautifully balance and harmonious.
Coppola’s Domaine Broglie Chardonnay, Dundee Hills. The renown director’s foray into Oregon results in a wine expressive of ripe yellow apple and quince and some tropical notes. A bit of pronounced oak (30% new barrels) is a nod, without overwhelming the fruit or freshness.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2018, Willamette Valley AVA. There’s a sense of quiet opulence in this wine, made from certified biodynamic grapes from 1978 vines, the oldest in the vineyard. The concentrated apple flavor is wrapped with Meyer lemon; earthy, anise notes add real depth.
Crowley Chardonnay 2019, Willamette Valley AVA. All sorts of yellow fruit here—apple, plum and quince, with a sharp walnut-skin finish that lends some interest. Anise dominates the herbal profile. Medium + acid, sharp and young.
Division “Un”chard 2019, Willamette Valley AVA. Rich but not opulent, clean pear and hazel tones, Burgundian style. Blends of vineyard, 428 cases, aged 10 months in French and Austrian and puncheons. Oak is a pretty punctuation but not overwhelming.
Domaine Divio 2019, Ribbon Ridge AVA. Divio means “sacred fountain” in Roman Gaul language, appropriate for this wine with Old World nuances and new world fruit. Burgundian styled with a beautiful light touch expressed in balanced fruit, acid and alcohol. 13.2% abv, but feels much lighter.
Hyland Estates 2018, Single Vineyard, McMinnville AVA. High elevation site and high alcohol at 13.4% in this heavier style of Chardonnay that required coming back to it. On the second and third days, it expressed a richer style of apple and pear, some interesting walnut bitterness on the finish. In the end, I came around to the wine’s charms, but some hearty fare would have made this shine.
Roco “Wits End” Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains AVA 2018. Limestone-y, chalky mineral tones accompany rich lemon tones along with white orchard fruit: pear and apple and quince. Vanilla/coconut spice, full bodied but still driven by clean fruit, zippy acid, not overly oaked. Nose had a lovely wafting of fennel. Dijon clone 95. 150 cases made.
Roco Gravel Road 2018 Willamette Valley AVA. Lemon and brioche dominate the nose in this wine that has good pear and apple Chardonnay markers in an international style. Not as provocative as the Wit’s End—this has a round mouthfeel and the mineral is not as racy. But everything is there, fresh and present—just more subdued than its sister wine.; a bit of anise. Good with curries.
R. Stuart & Co., “Love Oregon” 2018, Willamette Valley AVA. Vintage style label. Very direct apple and pear, unadulterated, slight creaminess but doesn’t get in the way of fruit. A little savory non aromatic. Simple and easy to drink. Had with pasta with portabella and ham in cream sauce.
St. Innocent Chardonnay, Freedom Hill Vineyard, 2018, Eola-Amity Hills. Dijon clone, a little sharp herbal on the finish, Beautifully balanced, Burgundian in spirit and style. Hazel richness, baked apple and pear tart tones. At 13.5%, the alcohol is at a noticeable level, but joins everything in perfect, pleasurable balance. Terrific with cheesy grits and grilled shrimp
St. Innocent Freedom Hill Vineyard 2019. This wine greeted me with a warm, lees-y nose with almond-skin notes, followed on the palate by clean direct fruit, gently wrapped in nuanced oak layers. Lemon twist, good minerality and roundness. Yellow apple and ripe pear, don’t drink too chilled. 11 months on less in used French oak. Using Dijon clones 76 and 548, can age up to 8 years.
Suzor “The Sunflower” 2018 Left Coast Vineyard, Van Duzer Corridor AVA. A bright and pleasant wine that promotes itself as “small production, honest vintners.” A more tropical style with a touch of butter that doesn’t detract from the fruit. 92 cases produced.
Sweet Cheeks Winery “Vintage” Chardonnay 2018, Willamette Valley AVA. Barrel aged for 17 months, 12% new French, 29% neutral and 59% second use. Some vanilla, juicy ripe yellow apple, yellow plum. Tasty, smooth, modern style, not intricate or layered but enjoyable. At 14.1%, a bit high in abv, but still delivers a balanced wine.
Union Wine Co. “Alchemist” 2017, Willamette Valley AVA. Lovely and deep with baked apple and pear tart flavors. Medium + body, slick without being glycerol, mineral without being austere. Touch of warm oak spice without being an oak bomb. Easy to drink at 12.5% abv.
Yamill Valley Vineyards, Estate Grown Chardonnay 2019, McMinnville AVA. Creamy apple brulee, rich and warm, full and pleasing but not heavy. Burgundian in style, a little tropical fruit—so more like a southern Burg village. Good with split pea soup and salty ham, Streak of saline, anise on the finish, integrated oak.