Five wines speak eloquently in virtual tasting/seminar “Oregon Chardonnay: Shifting Perceptions of the Variety in the Willamette Valley.”
Five months of researching the next edition of Fodor’s Napa and Sonoma have left me with a decidedly California palate, but that didn’t get in the way of appreciating five Oregon Chardonnays sampled at a recent virtual tasting/seminar. The winemakers participating in “Oregon Chardonnay: Shifting Perceptions of the Variety in the Willamette Valley” all made excellent points about why the state’s Chardonnays deserve more visibility, but even more eloquent were the wines themselves: vibrant, different, and resolutely terroir specific.
The 2018 Bergström Wines Sigrid Chardonnay and 2018 Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay stood out among the five wines tasted, but I’d be happy to sip any of them again, anytime. Sigrid, from three vineyards of biodynamically farmed grapes, struck me as the most complex of the group, particularly its pitch-perfect mouthfeel and the way its acidity asserted itself front to back.
Late in the session, winemakers Josh Bergström of Bergström and Thomas Savre of Lingua Franca expressed a thought that had been rolling around in my head, especially while tasting Savre’s wine. Namely that Oregon Chardonnay as an expression of its varietal represents, as Bergström put it, “a bridge between California and Burgundy…not too rich, not too austere.”
The above description certainly matched the two wines already mentioned and those presented by Gina Hennen of Adelsheim Vineyard, Shane Moore of Gran Moraine Winery, and Erik Kramer of WillaKenzie Estate.
Thought for Food
Each of the fives wines had me reflexively pondering what food it would pair best with. Given their citrusy notes and faint salinity (a few winemakers noted the latter), my pairing ideas, no surprise, revolved around seafood, from sole and halibut (with the 2017 Adelsheim Staking Claim or 2017 Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnays) to all sorts of shellfish (2018 WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay, plus Bergström and Lingua Franca).
Hurray for these Oregon Chardonnays. Much thanks to the winemakers for their insights and wines (some in distribution and all available via their wineries). Also to moderator Eugenia Keegan of Jackson Family Wines.