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Two Chardonnays from Oregon’s Willamette Valley

The emphasis of a recent wine tasting of Chardonnays from Oregon and California was on the regions where the vineyards are located. The six Chardonnays tasted were from the wineries of Jackson Family of Wines.

Pacific Coast Chardonnay Tasting

2017 Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay 2017

Gran Moraine™, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, is in the northern area of the Willamette Valley.  The winery is located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA which was established in 2012.  The winemaker is Shane Moore.

The soils of the northern Willamette Valley were heavily influenced by the Ice Age when Missoula Floods added glacial sediment. The winery was named for the sediment as moraine refers to the sediment brought by a glacier.

The focus of Gran Moraine is on growing and producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Currently the Gran Moraine tasting room is closed, however; wine enthusiasts are able to purchase wines by contacting the winery. Currently Gran Moraine is conducting virtual wine tastings.

Terry and I enjoyed tasting the Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay 2017 and we wrote individual notes about the wine. The Chardonnay grapes for this wine were hand harvested.  The winemaking protocol was to use whole cluster pressing and fermentation in French oak barrels. The wine was aged in French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Gran Moraine produced 2,305 cases of this wine.

Terry wine notes: The Gran Moraine Chardonnay 2017, priced at $45, was a yellow color with a light green hue. The aroma was fruity. The taste included notes of pear, lemon, apple with a hint of pineapple. This full-bodied wine had a velvety mouthfeel. The finish offered crisp fruit yielding to mineral on the aftertaste.

Kathy: The Gran Moraine 2017 Chardonnay had 13% alcohol. The wine was a deep yellow color. The aroma was intense with fresh notes of pear and white apple. The taste was inclusive of some tangerine/orange, pear and white apple. This was a full-bodied wine. The finish which was very crisp lingered. I suggest pairing this Chardonnay with chicken or shrimp.

2017 Willa Kenzie Estate Chardonnay, Yamhill Carlton AVA

WillaKenzie Estate is located in Yamhill, Oregon. The start of the winery and vineyards was in 1991 when Bernard and Ronni Lacroute purchased a large farm. The first grapevines were planted in 1992. It wasn’t long before the winery was built in 1995. The wines were quickly successful as the estate’s Gamay Noir 1995 was served at a White House gala. Since 1997 WillaKenzie’s wines have sometimes been served at State dinners. 

The name WillaKenzie is for the sedimentary soil in the vineyards. The name originally comes from two of Oregon’s major rivers: the McKenzie and the Willamette.

The WillaKenzie vineyards consist of 126 acres and are planted with a majority of Pinot Noir vines, however; the vineyards are also planted with Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Meunier. WillaKenzie was one of the very first members of LIVE Certified Sustainable. In 2016 WillaKenzie became part of the Jackson Family Wines.

Currently the tasting room is closed but wines can be purchased by contacting the winery.

The retail price for the WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay 2017 is $75. The grapes were harvested by hand. After harvesting the grapes were whole cluster pressed and fermented in French oak. Only 150 cases were bottled.

Terry’s notes: The WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay 2017 was 13.9% alcohol. The wine was a yellow door with a gold hue. The aroma was of aromatic fruits including pear and tangerine. The  taste was of pear, apple, tangerine with an oak influence. The wine had a velvety mouthfeel. The finish was crisp with fruity with oak in the background. Mineral was on the long aftertaste. 

Kathy’s notes: WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay 2017  was 13.9% alcohol. The wine was a light spring yellow color. The aroma included notes of fruit and mineral. The dry wine was crisp with notes of mellowness. The taste  offered notes of tropical fruits, hints of peach with some mineral. The finish was crisp and long. This Chardonnay “leaves your tastebuds wishing for one more sip.”

If you enjoy Chardonnays, when you have the opportunity try a Chardonnay from Oregon. Chardonnay Day is celebrated on May 21st.

Kathy and Terry

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