The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2014

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46  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2014 PACIFIC NORTHWEST G iven the chill, rain-swept slopes where Chardonnay experts and enthusiasts from around the world gathered at Stoller Family Estate in Dayton for the third annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium on March 8, the austerity and restraint of the evolving Oregon Chardonnay makes sense. Echoed throughout the event was the question put forth by moderator Cole Danehower: "What defines Oregon Chardonnay?" The question captures the current state of this white wine variety in a region known for its Pinot Noir, acknowledging that Oregon Chardonnay has yet to achieve a reputation that allows it to stand on its own instead of being compared to California or Burgundy, while noting that in the past few years Chardonnay has achieved a level of quality that puts it on the interna- tional playing field. "Let's face it," said Josh Bergstrom of Bergstrom Wines in what became the central presentation of the Symposium, "Oregon Chardonnay is a new thing! And just because Oregon makes Chardonnay, it's not a slam dunk. We must prove ourselves over time as well as build the infrastructure for Chardonnay to thrive, with the ultimate goal of being an independent entity that doesn't have to be compared to another region to be defined." Oregon Chardonnay isn't exactly a new thing, but good Oregon Chardonnay is. The variety was first planted in the Willamette Valley in 1965, but the vintages were disappointing and as a whole the industry turned to the more rewarding Pinot Noir (and we all know how that turned out!). In 1974, David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyard worked in Burgundy, where he found different Chardonnay clones that ripened earlier and seemed better suited to Oregon's unique climate. After years of working with Oregon State University, the first clones started being planted in the late '70s, and in spite of public hostility to the variety (remember "Anything But Chardonnay"?), by the 2000s local vintners had begun to experiment with Chard. Years later, we are seeing the birth of a movement. Oregon Chardonnay is increasingly characterized by a terroir-centric flavor profile, with oak present but not forward, and sweet lime, green apple, red currant and other acidic fruits yielding a dynamic tension that, in the best vintages, perfectly reflects the bracing, clean air of the valley where it is born. The sold-out Symposium and tasting of 40 local Chardonnays was proof that wherever it's going, Oregon Chardonnay will be memorable. In Danehower's words, "Yay, Chardonnay!" "A New Thing" VINTNERS DISCUSS—AND TASTE—THE FUTURE AT THE 2014 OREGON CHARDONNAY SYMPOSIUM by Emily McIntyre / photos by Andrea Johnson Vintner Doug Tunnell of Brick House Vineyards makes notes during the tasting. Panelists Josh Bergstrom of Bergstrom Wines (left) and Véronique Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin with moderator Cole Danehower. AL » Alliance Beverage of Alabama AK » Young's Market AR » Glazer's AZ » Alliance Beverage of Arizona CA » Young's Market CO » Beverage Distributors Company CT » Eder Bros. CT » Alan S. Goodman DC » Washington Wholesale DE » United Distributors of Delaware FL » RNDC GA » General Wholesale HI » Young's Market ID » Young's Market IL » Wirtz Beverage Company IN » Glazer's IA » Glazer's KS » Glazer's KY » RNDC LA » Glazer's ME » MS Walker MD » Reliable Churchill MA » MS Walker MI » Great Lakes Wines & Spirits MN » Wirtz Beverage Company MS » Glazer's MO » Glazer's MT » Young's Market NE » RNDC NV » Wirtz Beverage Company NH » MS Walker NJ » Fedway Associates NM » National Distributing Company NY » Empire Merchants NY » Empire Merchants North NC » RNDC ND » RNDC OH » Glazer's OK » Glazer's OR » Young's Market PA » Capital Wines & Spirits RI » MS Walker SC » RNDC SD » RNDC TN » Athens Distributing Company TN » B & T Distributing Company TX » Glazer's UT » Young's Market VT » MS Walker VA » Associated Distributors WA » Young's Market WV » RNDC WI » Badger Liquor WI » Frank Liquor WY » Young's Market USVI » Premier Wines & Spirits CANADA » Glazer's of Canada ISLAND GIRL 1 1/2 oz. Blue Chair Bay Coconut 1 oz. orange juice 1 oz. pineapple juice 2 oz. lemon-lime soda DIRECTIONS: Build ingredients directly into a tall glass with ice. Stir and irt. Want produce? Add an orange slice and cherry. INSPIRED BY THE ISLAND LIFE OF MULTIPLATINUM SINGER-SONGWRITER KENNY CHESNEY Imported and bottled by Fishbowl Spirits, Rochester, NY. TP0514_034-71.indd 46 4/24/14 11:02 PM

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