- 20th annual Taste Washington offers 20% discountPosted 1 day ago
- Brian Carter, Reininger, Walla Walla Vintners hoist Jefferson CupsPosted 5 days ago
- Sager Small set to take College Cellars education back to Woodward CanyonPosted 6 days ago
- Wine Yakima Valley rallies to support food banksPosted 1 week ago
- BC wine industry mourns Wild Goose founder Adolf KrugerPosted 1 week ago
- Ste. Michelle calls 2016 harvest biggest, longest for Washington winePosted 2 weeks ago
- Giving thanks for Northwest wine on ThanksgivingPosted 2 weeks ago
- ¡Salud! auction for Oregon vineyard worker healthcare sets recordPosted 2 weeks ago
- College Cellars spins Muscat into gold year after yearPosted 2 weeks ago
- Lake Chelan winery wins Tri-Cities Wine Festival with GSMPosted 3 weeks ago
Thanks to diverse styles, Chardonnay makes a comeback
Barely a half-decade ago, we were in the dark times of Chardonnay.
California’s heavy, wood-laden style of big, fat Chardonnays ruled the winemaking landscape. Rare was the Chardonnay with finesse.
But just as wine lovers have gravitated toward myriad white varieties – Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Grüner Veltliner among them – so, too, as Chardonnay changed from being a one-trick pony.
Today, Chardonnay is a blissfully diverse variety. Though not as nimble as the noble Riesling, Chardonnay nonetheless is able to transform into many kinds of wine, thanks to different clones, a variety of growing regions and a plethora of winemaking styles.
Just a half-decade after wine drinkers declared their independence from Chardonnay, they now seem to be flocking back to the country’s most important wine variety. Winemakers, too, are embracing this diversity by trying all kinds of techniques.
For example, some winemakers are crafting Chardonnays that are “naked,” meaning they are made in stainless steel and often without going through secondary malolactic fermentation (which converts malic acids to softer, richer lactic acids). Others are doing partial barrel fermentation and/or partial malolactic fermentation. And many still are producing big, rich, buttery Chardonnays using all the tools available – yet experimenting with different barrel types and different yeasts to produce wines of energy and distinction.
Throughout the Pacific Northwest, Chardonnay remains an important grape. In Oregon, it is No. 2 to Pinot Gris in white wines, but plenty of plantings of new Chardonnay vineyards are going into the soil each year. In Washington, it’s unclear whether Chardonnay or Riesling is No. 1, but Chardonnay undoubtedly is on the upswing, while Riesling seems to have momentarily plateaued.
This week, we take a look at a broad range of Northwest Chardonnays from a variety of regions and made in different styles. Just click the little arrow above to go through the dozen wines we picked out for you.