Northwest Chardonnays shine with new styles

By on May 11, 2014

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Paul Durant of Durant Vineyards pours for Melissa Burr of Stoller Family Estate during the grand tasting of the third annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium on March 8, 2014 in Dayton.

Paul Durant of Durant Vineyards pours for Melissa Burr of Stoller Family Estate during the grand tasting of the third annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium on March 8, 2014 in Dayton. (Photo by ©Andrea Johnson Photography)

It’s kind of funny to think that Chardonnay is making a comeback.

After all, it is the most popular wine in America, and it’s the No. 1 white wine in Washington, with more than 40,000 tons crushed last fall.

So let’s call it a renaissance of sorts. Going away are the big, buttery, California-style Chardonnays. You’ll still find plenty of Chardonnay fermented and aged in oak, but they tend to show more elegance and less hammer-you-over-the-head oakiness.

In addition, Oregon grape growers and winemakers are diving deep into clones of Chardonnay that work better in the Willamette Valley’s cool climate, while wineries from both states are producing Chardonnays with no oak, less oak, some lees-stirring, some malolactic fermentation, and combinations of various techniques.

All of this adds up to exciting times for Northwest wine lovers, especially those of us who grew weary of pulling slivers out of our cheeks every time we drank a glass of Chardonnay just a few years ago.

Following are eight examples of Chardonnays from Washington and Oregon that we’ve tasted in recent weeks.

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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