The July/August edition of edibleSeattle contains an article I wrote titled ‘Liquid assets: Why Chenin Blanc is a grape worth saving.’ The article, which contains a list of recommendations, can be found at the following locations.
Also, the July edition of Seattle Metropolitan contains a short piece I penned on Chardonnay. As discussed in the article, many consumers have a love/hate relationship with Chardonnay. Part of the reason for this is that there is a lot of mediocre Chardonnay out there – and bad Chardonnay can be positively dreadful.
Washington sees its fair share of middling Chard. More recently, however, a number of wineries in the state have started to make excellent bottles. Read some recommendations as well as additional thoughts on the grape here.
In addition to the wines in the article, there are a few Chardonnays that I have had recently that deserve mention. The first is the new vintage of the Au Contraire Chardonnay from Maison Bleue (the article refers to the superb 2009 vintage, the first Chardonnay I ever purchased in abundance). As with previous vintages, this wine hails from French Creek Vineyard, which boasts 30-year old vines. The wine was fermented half in stainless steel and half in neutral barrels with partial malolactic fermentation (about 50%). The result is a textured wine that still retains its crispness and has bright acidity.
The next is Sleight of Hand Cellars’ 2009 The Enchantress Chardonnay – which I must say is quite aptly named. This wine also hails from French Creek Vineyard. In contrast to the Maison wine, the Sleight of Hand Chardonnay was fermented all in oak, using three to four year old barrels. The result is both an interesting contrast and an absolutely delicious wine in its own right.
An about face from these wines using stainless steel and neutral oak comes from Gorman Winery. The 2009 Big Sissy Chardonnay was barrel fermented using native yeast in 100% new French oak with partial malolactic fermentation. The fruit comes from Conner Lee Vineyard. True to the house style, this is a rich, big wine with a creamy palate, the likes of which is more frequently seen in California than Washington – at four times the price.
Feel free to leave comments on other Washington Chardonnays that have rocked your world.
Maison Bleue Au Contraire Chardonnay Yakima Valley 2010 $20
Rating: * (Excellent) Lightly aromatic with mineral, spice, crème fraiche, and yellow apple. Palate is full on the entry and then pulls back and continues with a leaner style with mineral notes accented by a lemony acidity. A long finish on another impressive wine from this emerging star. 100% Chardonnay. Aged in neutral French oak (50%) and stainless steel with partial malolactic fermentation (50%). 13.2% alcohol. 408 cases produced.
Sleight of Hand Cellars The Enchantress Chardonnay Yakima Valley 2009 $28
Rating: * (Excellent) Aromas of spice, butter, and Granny Smith apple. A layered wine with a creamy mid-palate and etched acidity. Barrel fermented and aged 11 months in neutral French oak. 14.1% alcohol. 90 cases produced.
Gorman Winery The Big Sissy Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2009 $35
Rating: * (Excellent) Beautiful, compelling aromas of spice, butter, ripe apples, and tropical fruit. A rich, full wine with a creamy, textured mouthfeel and a long finish. 100% Chardonnay. Conner Lee Vineyard. Barrel fermented in 100% new French oak with partial malolactic fermentation. 225 cases produced.