As November came to a close we had one more Willamette Valley, Oregon Chardonnay to explore on #Winestudio. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the live chat due to the unexpected death of a beloved family member; however, I was still fortunate enough to receive the wine. I have reviewed the #Winestudio Twitter conversation from the virtual tasting as well as listened to Guy’s True Wine Culture Podcast featuring Amy Wesselman of Westrey Wine Company on Soundcloud. If you missed any or all of November’s #Winestudio session featuring 8 truly dazzling Willamette Valley Chardonnays you can read all about them in my previous articles, “Dazzling Willamette Valley Chardonnays,” “I’m In the Mood for a Chardonnay,” and “Omero Cellars Chardonnay: Bold and Elegant.”
“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.
The final week’s session featured a Chardonnay from Westrey Wine Company, a beautiful wine with a compelling history; thus titled “Anatomy of a Vineyard: Oracle and the Chablis-like Westrey Chardonnay.”
Westrey Willamette Valley Oregon 2012 Reserve Chardonnay: This wine poured a vibrant yellow gold into the glass. The aromas of this Chardonnay is driven by minerality, followed by crisp orchard fruit and a touch of honeysuckle. This dynamic Chardonnay was amazingly palate pleasing with great flavors of crushed stone and dusty minerals, followed by bright and crisp Granny Smith apples, a touch of marzipan and lingering cedar with baking spices on the back of the palate. As someone who does not enjoy big fruit forward, buttery Chardonnay this wine was exceptionally pleasing! It offered round texture in the mouth with bold acidity promoting a lingering mouth feel begging for another sip. This Reserve Chardonnay was aged in 16% new oak barrels, the rest in one year old barrels. It contained 12.9% alcohol. Only 142 cases and 4 cases of magnums were produced. SRP $32. Visit Westrey Wine Company web site to order this wine. Hurry! You want this on your holiday menu! I recommend this wine!
This was a versatile Chardonnay that would make an excellent addition to a variety of meals. Since it was just after Thanksgiving when I sampled this wine I chose to pair it with a delicious recipe I have had for years: Marsha Brooks’ Crunchy Carmel Apple Pie. Marsha Brooks was the winner of the Good Morning America Apple Pie Contest in November 2001. I watched that episode, went to their web site and printed the recipe. I have been making this pie for years. It is easy, quite good and always a bit hit. The wine was a delicious accompaniment to the pie; the creamy caramel, soft apples, flaky crust, oats and a hint of cinnamon of the pie blended beautifully on my palate with the exquisite Chardonnay. Furthermore, the balance between the minerality of the wine and the sweetness of the pie was divine!
Westrey Wine Company is owned and operated by husband and wife/co-winemaking team of Amy Wesselman and David Autrey. They founded the winery in 1993 with a focus on crafting “elegant Pinot Noir wines, fruit-driven Burgundian-style Chardonnay and crisp, refreshing Pinot Gris. The wines are designed to be balanced and ageworthy, always complementing and enlivening the food with which they are served.” They do this through sustainable and organic practices, taking into consideration the “inputs and outputs” of the entire farm, which includes participation in the Salud! Program, providing health insurance to vineyard workers who would otherwise be uninsurable. Westrey sources their fruit from friends throughout Willamette Valley as well as their own vineyards Oracle and Dundee Hills. “Vineyard-designated bottlings are designed to showcase the connection between the individual farms where the grapes are grown and the final personality of the wine. Currently, Westrey produces about 5,000 cases of premium Oregon wine annually.
The focus of the #Winestudio conversation was on the interesting story of the Oracle Vineyards. After a few years in the winemaking business Amy and David were offered an opportunity to purchase the land that is now the Oracle Vineyards; however, at the time they were unable to make the purchase so the land was sold to a horse farmer. The vines were deemed vulnerable to phyloxora so the horse farmer removed the trellises and cut down the vines. In 2000 the land again became available but this time Amy and David were able to purchase the land. Amy and David believed they were buying “proven” bare land; however, much to their surprise the following spring they observed “bushes” beginning to grow in rows. They worked tirelessly for months nursing the vines back to life they “managed to get the 7 acres back up to production.” Resulting in outstanding Chardonnay from “wonderful old root systems producing beautiful fruit.” These old vines are still going strong. Amy and David have added new vines to the vineyards for continuity, now 23 acres strong! I for one and thankful because their tenacity and perseverance has paid off in a fantastic 2012 Reserve Chardonnay!
I strongly encourage you to visit Westrey Wine Company’s web site to learn more about this wonderful winery, to view their entire portfolio of wines and to order this wine!
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with the Westrey Wine Company Willamette Valley Oregon 2012 Reserve Chardonnay is “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Someone recently asked me what wines goes with Tom Petty; well here is one! First, Amy and David were not going to back down, they persevered with their dream and are producing very high quality wine! Second, Tom Petty offers that laid back style that is full of flavor and enjoyed by so many people. He is very good in concert and perennially delivers one hit after another, I could listen to Petty for hours while I am sipping Westrey’s 2012 Reserve Chardonnay! Both are smooth and delicious.
Get your own bottle of Westrey Wine Company’s Willamette Valley Oregon 2012 Reserve Chardonnay and let me know what song you would pair with it. Cheers!