As November continues week two of #Winestudio’s “The Importance of Being a Willamette Chardonnay” featured two more truly outstanding wines. As the lively discussions continue with the winemakers of the featured wines on thing is becoming apparent to me: Willamette Valley wine makers are an eclectic bunch. If you are somehow behind on this educational and tasty session you can catch up by reading my article “Dazzling Willamette Valley Chardonnays” to learn about the first two outstanding Oregon Chardonnays featured this month. I am sure as you read last week’s article as well as this one that you will not only join us next week (and every week) at 8pm CST on Twitter using #Winestudio, but you will no doubt want to order each of these high quality Chardonnays for your holiday entertaining!
“What is #WineStudio? PROTOCOL wine studio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.”
Why a singular focus on Chardonnays from Willamette Valley? Once again, Protocol explains:
There’s been talk of a Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, more precisely Willamette Valley and for our November program we’ll get into it citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay. It’s an evolution of palate that began in the 70s and has come to be the slow path toward serious and purposeful Chardonnay. Oregon winemakers have always embodied community–sharing ideas, practices–together finding what works best for a future of Oregon Chardonnay – a new wine paradigm that truly embodies what the region can produce.
So let’s look at how and why Chardonnay grapes shine!
J.K. Carriere 2012 Lucidité Willamette Valley Chardonnay: This lively Chardonnay poured a pale gold into the glass. It met the nose with an inviting aroma of minerals, followed by orchard fruit and citrus. On the palate this Chardonnay offered beautiful flavors of ripe and juicy Granny Smith apples, yellow pears, lemon zest and a hint of nutmeg all embraced by crushed stone. It was a round Chardonnay full of flavor, substantial and silky that was well balanced with dry crisp acidity lingering on the palate. Owner and winemaker Jim Prosser provided great notes on the winemaking process of the 2012 Lucidité that I feel are important to share to fully understand the delicate balance of strength and grace this wine possessed: “100% whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented in an old-world oxidative style. By using long, slow, low-temperature, wild-yeast, barrel fermentation regimen we are able to promote vineyard characters and preserve fleeting fruit esters.” This Chardonnay was 100% barrel aged on its lees for 18 months in older French oak barrels and contained 13.5% alcohol. Jim’s overall thesis on this wine: “A surfboard of ripe getting rolled by a wave of acid!” YES!
The J.K. Carriere philosophy is simple:
“We like our wines, like our friends and our dinner guests, to be vibrant in character, generous in spirit, acidic in wit, balanced in consideration of opposing tastes, and above all else…real. And we’d like to see them all around the table, as together we improve, for years to come.” ~ Jim Prosser
J.K. Carriere produced only 220 cases of the 2012 Lucidité with SRP $32. I highly recommend you visit the J.K. Carriere web site to definitely order this wine, learn more about Jim and the winery and view their entire portfolio of wines (Jim makes some great looking Pinots too).
Goodfellow Family 2012 Whistling Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay: This 100% Chardonnay poured a beautiful yellow gold into the glass. On the nose it offered bright aromas of orchard fruit, dried herbs and hints of spice. On the palate the aromas delivered great flavors of fresh apples, pears and peaches along with lemon zest and a touch of spice on the back of the palate. This was a lovely Chardonnay that rolled across the tongue delivering a dry yet highly pleasing taste experience. It was well balanced, had great acidity, full mouth feel with a medium finish. I found this Chardonnay quite enjoyable. It was aged for 20 months in 100% French oak, 50% of which was new. It contained 14.1% alcohol. Only 80 cases produced! SRP $36 and worth every penny. Run, don’t walk to purchase this exquisite Chardonnay. This 2012 vintage is the inaugural vintage of Goodfellow Family Cellars.
An explanation of why this inaugural Goodfellow Chardonnay was so good:
“Goodfellow Family Cellars is a small family winery focused on world-class wines from Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley. Sustainably farmed, non-irrigated, old vines provide us the opportunity to produce intense, site specific wines with an old world intensity and character. Fruit is farmed to accentuate the singular nature of our vineyard sites.”
Matello Wines 2012 Durant Vineyards Chardonnay: This Chardonnay poured a pale gold into the glass. It met the nose with vibrant aromas of stone fruit, hints of citrus, a touch of brioche, honey and minerals. This Chardonnay danced across the palate with pleasing flavors of peaches and cream, lemon custard, Granny Smith apples, with hints of fresh cut herbs and crushed stone on the back of the palate. Well balanced and dazzling. This Chardonnay had a slight creamy texture with a medium body, round acidity and lingering finish. It was relaxed and elegant yet driven. It was dry farmed because Marcus Goodfellow believes, “non-irrigated vineyards produce grapes with an identity.” It spent 15 months in French oak, 30% new. It contained 13.5% alcohol. 150 cases produced; SRP $29. Another Chardonnay you want to buy right away.
Matello is Italian and means little fool. The Matello philosophy is simple: “produce handcrafted wines that tell an honest story. We craft terroir driven, sommelier friendly wines that are unique, refreshing, balanced, and cellar-worthy from some of the Willamette Valley’s most unique and evocative vineyards. The vines are older, the fruit is dry farmed, and the vineyard gives the melody of the wines. Our simple philosophy focuses on old vines, careful stewardship through the growing season, and detailed winemaking rooted in traditional techniques. An old French axiom says “tradition is an experiment that worked”, at Matello our goal is to think outside the box of modern winemaking by exploring the methods of tradition.
I encourage you to visit Matello Wine’s web site to order this wine, learn more about Marcus Goodfellow, owner and winemaker of Matello and Goodfellow Family wines, and view their entire portfolio of wines.
I paired all three of the gorgeous Willamette Valley Chardonnay’s with one dinner: crusty bread with fresh Valpolicella EVOO and fresh Tuscan herb blend, and fresh ricotta cheese blend stuffed pumpkin ravioli topped with homemade pepitas pesto and fresh Valpolicella Parmesano-Regiano. Each Chardonnay paired beautifully with this meal. I cannot pick a favourite! The pumpkin pasta had a nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon zest that was killer with these mineral driven, slightly spiced Chardonnays. I recommend each of these Chardonnays! By the end of this page you should already have your browser open to order these wines; they will each make an excellent addition to your holiday meals and parties. If you are considering any Chardonnay for the holidays think “The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay!”
My Song Selection: This song pairing came to me easily as I was enjoying these lovely wines. The song I have chosen to pair with J.K. Carriere 2012 Lucidité, Goodfellow Family Whistling Ridge Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay, and Matello 2012 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay is In the Mood by Robert Plant. The song has an alluring melody and relaxing mood built around a firm musical spine and is written by one of the best song writers of all time. It was quite a departure for Plant from his Zeppelin days but yet it is still a great song. It is the perfect song to relax with a glass of high quality Willamette Valley Chardonnay!
Get your own bottle of these three Willamette Valley Chardonnays and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!