Oregon is experiencing a renaissance for chardonnay Oregon emerges with these wines and StollerFamily Estates in the Willamette Valley is leading the charge.
“Chardonnay had a rocky start here,” said director of winemaking Melissa Burr. “The first chardonnay vines were planted alongside the first pinot noir vines here 50 years ago. Pinot flourished while chardonnay floundered, mostly due to planted clones not begin a good match for our climate. Today, we have planted clones that suit our region, gained an enriched understanding of the soils and benefit from our cool climate.”
Winery founder Bill Stoller had a vision to showcase Oregon chardonnay someday. In 1995, half of the 20 acres planted in the vineyard were planted to chardonnay. Today, chardonnay has moved to the front with 50 planted acres.
The 2015 Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($25) is 100 percent unoaked and spends six months in stainless steel tanks. White flower and grapefruit aromas open this exceptional selection. Green apple, kiwi and pineapple flavors finish with a slightly dry bite.
The 2014 Reserve Chardonnay ($35) spends 12 months in French Oak barrel, about 20 percent of which are new. There are remarkable differences between the two varietals. Freshly baked croissant aromas mingle with ripe apple before an avalanche of butter, yeast and vanilla flavors.
“I’m eager to see where Oregon can take this grape,” Burr said. “I think it will increase quickly in acreage and production and bring balanced, cool climate chardonnay to many more tables.”