Famed sommelier Rajat Parr to lead 2015 Oregon Chardonnay Symposium

By on September 16, 2014
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)

DAYTON, Ore. – Acclaimed sommelier Rajat Parr will serve as moderator of the fourth annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium on March 14 at Stoller Family Estate in the Dundee Hills.

Parr, a James Beard Award-winning author, agreed to direct the technical tasting panel and will be joined by Thomas Bachelder of Bachelder Wines, Mimi Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyard, Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards, John Paul of Cameron Winery and Craig Williams of X-Novo Vineyard.

A grand tasting of more than 40 examples of Oregon Chardonnay, poured by winemakers, will follow the technical tasting.

Chardonnay panel to address role of clones

Master sommelier Rajat Parr moderates an international panel of Syrah producers during the 2014 Celebrate Walla Walla Wine festival.

Rajat Parr, one of the country’s top sommeliers, moderates an international panel of Syrah producers during the 2014 Celebrate Walla Walla Wine festival. (Photo courtesy of Richard Duval Images)

Parr is the former wine director for Northwest-grown chef Michael Mina’s nationwide group of 19 restaurants, which includes RN74 in Seattle. Parr now plays a leading role in several West Coast winery projects, a list that features Seven Springs Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills near Salem.

Last spring, Parr skillfully and playfully moderated an international panel of Syrah producers during the second annual Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine festival. In March, he’ll be charged with leading the quartet of Chardonnay producers in a discussion of Oregon’s history and work with Dijon clones.

The two-hour technical session — marketed as “Attack of the Clones” — will begin at 2 p.m., followed by the grand tasting from 4 to 6 p.m. The large tasting will provide guests with the ability to taste through Chardonnay and look for clonal selections, styles, production methods and terroir.

Last spring, despite the rain-drenched afternoon, attendance for the technical session was standing-room only. There were thoughts of moving the event to a larger venue, but co-founders Paul Durant and Erica Landon chose to return to Stoller and hope for better weather.

“We were thrilled by the response to last year’s event and are looking forward to unveiling the 40 select vintners later this fall,” Landon said in a news release.

Landon, co-owner of Walter Scott Wines and one of the region’s top sommeliers, will organize a blind Chardonnay tasting for writers, retailers and sommeliers to determine the 40 wines to be poured at next year’s grand tasting.

Durant and Landon created the symposium to raise the national and international profile of Chardonnay made in Oregon, as well as showcase the Burgundy variety’s history in Oregon and provide a spotlight for new producers.

“Our fourth annual event will delve deeper into what makes Oregon Chardonnay unique,” said Durant, co-owner of Durant Vineyards and Red Ridge Farms. “We are particularly focused on the distinct characteristics of the various clone groups, from farming to bottle.”

The combination technical panel and grand tasting tickets are $150. Cost of an individual grand tasting ticket is $50. Tickets are available online at www.oregonchardonnaysymposium.com.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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