Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oregon Chardonnay Offers Something for Everyone

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

If you love Chardonnay, you have to love Oregon, right?

Every time I taste through Oregon Chardonnays, I become overtaken with joy. The combination of ripe fruit and zesty acid makes these wines easy to enjoy with food and pleasing to all sorts of palates. With the grilled veggies and seafood dishes I tend to cook during summer, Oregon Chardonnay is always welcome on my table.

And, with this group of producers, I’m lucky to have tasted such great examples of Oregon Chardonnay.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single blind.

2011 Rex Hill Chardonnay Dijon Clone - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $39
A lovely floral nose with notes of sea breeze, green melon and guava. Creamy body, the wine glides across the palate, but the tingling acid balances it out. Lovely green apple and lime mix with richer notes of guava and honey. Slight hazelnut and nougat from the wood add to the overall experience, as opposed to distracting from it, and the result is a focused and complex wine that comes off as effortless. Aged 15 months in French oak. (91 points)

2011 Ponzi Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $30
A vibrant gold color. An explosion of aromas: peach, papaya, lemon zest, whipped honey, hazelnut. On the palate, the acid keeps the lips smacking while the rich apricot and papaya fruit rolls in. I’m thrilled by the minerality, seashell and saline notes to this wine, and the way those components mix with nutshells and slightly toasted bread. Long finish with notes of oyster brine and lime zest. Lots of interesting stuff going on here, and it all works together in a balanced package. Only 13.2% alcohol, this wine sees 18 months in 15% new oak. (91 points)

2011 Willamette Valley Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Vineyard - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $30
The nose bursts with lemon, yellow flowers, honey, and an element that reminds me of roasted butternut squash. Rich texture on the palate but the acid is precise and cutting. Flavors of tangy green apple and lime blend in with rich yellow apple and glazed pear. I get some honey and toasted almond notes, but it’s still clean and fresh and balanced. Lingering sea salt and minerals on the finish. There’s something in here for every kind of Chardonnay lover. Aged 10 months in 53% new French oak. (90 points)

2011 Stoller Chardonnay Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
SRP: $27
Pale lemon color. Bright aromas of lime, green apple, some river rocks mixing with sweet orange blossoms. On the palate, this is so bright and tangy, with racy acidity and lots of minerals and sea shells. Lime peel mixes with white peach, some honeycomb and orange blossom and some waxy notes. A live-wire wine but it shows a lot of concentration. Subtle nuances of nougat and hazelnut accentuate the wine. Very impressive stuff that I’m guessing could do well for three or four years. (90 points)

2011 Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay Original Vines Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
SRP: $50
Nose shows bright floral and honey tones on top of green melon, papaya, lime and an aroma that reminds me of a cold ocean jetty, which I love. Bright and tangy on the palate with crisp acid. Lots of white peach and melon and lime mixed together with minerals, limestone and sea brine. Notes of whipped honey and lime linger long on the finish. Tart and brisk, a leaner style, but still round enough to keep it from being too intense. (90 points)

2011 Phelps Creek Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve - Oregon/Washington, Columbia Gorge
SRP: $30
Light straw color. Lots of apple cider on the nose, nectarine, orange blossom. The palate shows a fleshy texture, big and bold, but tamed by the acid. Whipped honey and hazelnut accent the nectarine, papaya and apricot flavors. Creamy and mouth-filling, with notes of peanut shell, baked apple and minerals. One of the bigger wines in terms of body and oak, but it’s still focused. (89 points)

2012 Bergström Chardonnay “Sigrid” - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $85
Aromas of white peach, rich honey and orange marmalade, but also some fresh cut flowers and ocean spray notes. Medium+ bodied with fresh acidity and bursting fruit: lime, white peach, honeydew, green apple, all thrown in together. Some sweet honey and crushed almond notes, but they’re matched with intense minerality and some interesting oceanic elements. Deep, long, complex, a forward Chardonnay but one that offers a lot to contemplate. (91 points)

2012 Boedecker Cellars Chardonnay - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $25
On the nose: saline, white peach, lime, orange blossom, some buttered crackers. On the palate: creamy and juicy with nectarine, white peach and green apple. Tangy acid, bright mineral notes, fresh but not weak. (87 points)

2012 Chehalem Chardonnay INOX - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $19
Nose of apricot, green and yellow apples, some flowers and baby’s breath. Creamy body, medium acid, juicy apricot and yellow apple fruit mixed in with some lime and honeycomb. I get some white tea and ginger notes along with some orange marmalade. Clean, refreshing this unoaked Chardonnay is pure summer-sipping goodness, and very good for the price. (88 points)

2012 Adelsheim Chardonnay Caitlin’s Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $45
Light yellow color. Notes of crushed sea shells and chalk on top of sweet yellow apple, apricot and a touch of honey. Complex, evolving aromas. Creamy body, but the high acid streaks across the palate. Lime and green apple mix with apricot and papaya, and the fruit is accented by a whole range of non-fruit flavors: sea shells, limestone, oyster brine, minerals and gentle touches of hazelnut and honey. Long, complex, I’m interested in cellaring this for three or four years. Very pretty stuff, nervy yet full. Aged on the lees 10 months in 36% new French oak. (92 points)

2012 Lange Chardonnay Three Hills Cuvée - Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $40
Medium yellow color. Lots of white peach, guava nectar along with some lighter, fresher notes of honeysuckle and lemon tea, some sea breeze. Creamy and ripe on the palate with apricot and white peach but the acid is clean and refreshing, and I also get some key lime and margarita salt notes. Peachy with balanced nougat and honeyed tea flavors. Some quinine, pear skin and honeycomb elements on the finish. (88 points)

2012 Anam Cara Chardonnay Nicholas Estate Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
SRP: $32
Medium yellow color. On the nose, I get sea salt, lime, some grapefruit and green melon, bright dandelion and honeysuckle. Creamy palate, medium acid, I like the mix of white peach, apricot and lemon-lime fruit. A good amount of limestone and oyster shells. Bright and fresh but richly textured with balanced notes of toasted almonds and honeycomb. Minerals and sea shells linger on the long finish. Impressive in its freshness and depth. (90 points)

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