February's Wine of the Month: A Surprising Oregon Chardonnay

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  • By Jessica Martinez
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February's Wine of the Month:  A Surprising Oregon Chardonnay

Forget what you think you know about domestic Chardonnay. You are about to be charmed!

Big shock!  Jessica here to tell you yet again about how amazing Oregon wines are.  This time, it might shock you, but we are here to talk about… Chardonnay!


Now, before you go and say I hate Chardonnay, why would I like this wine?, if you are basing your Chardonnay animus toward the excesses of California Chardonnay, you might be missing out on something amazing.  


California Chardonnay producers have honed their skills largely making oaky, buttery styles that, of course, have their fans, having earned a rightful place in the wine world.  


But Oregon Chardonnay is NOT California Chardonnay. Oregon Chardonnays are fruit-focused with wonderful citrus, floral notes and a real focus on acidity, layered and luscious with great high and low notes, making them beautifully balanced wines.  


Oregon Chardonnay has really been one of my focuses for the store this past year.  My goal has been to find Chardonnay on the domestic side that will change people’s preconceived notions about the grape.  The Chardonnay grape really shines differently wherever it is grown.  I am all about terroir and letting the land be expressed through the grape.  Most French wine fans already know that White Burgundy is a completely different animal than California Chardonnay.   Oregon Chardonnay, however, falls in the middle of France and California in style.  With a similar climate and latitude to that of France, Oregon wines definitely lean more toward the Burgundy style but have their own special something that you just have to try to understand.  


So all in all, what I am trying to say is you should give Oregon Chardonnay a shot, and what better way to do that then to grab a bottle of our February Wine of the Month, the Averaen 2018 Willamette Valley Chardonnay.


Averaen is a newer Oregon winery started by the same fellas that began Banshee wines in Sonoma.  They thought about the similarities of the Sonoma Coast climates and certain AVAs in Oregon and decided they wanted to go on an Oregon Pinot adventure and start Averaen.  


Head winemaker Mordechai Kotler is a Southern California native who spent most of his formative years bouncing between LA and Orange County, kind of like us here in LB/Signal Hill.  He went to college at Linfield in McMinville Oregon, who happens to be the rival school to my alma mater.  Like the rest of us Southern California kids who made our way to the Pacific Northwest, he fell in love with wine and craft beer and found his home there.  After a brief stint teaching, he then found himself in the cellar (doesn’t everyone?) where over the past few years he has honed his craft to make some kick-ass wines at very attractive prices.


The 2018 Willamette Valley Chardonnay comes from 2 different Oregon AVAs, the Chehalem Mountains and Mount Pisagah.  Fermented with native yeasts, and aged in 10% new French oak barrels, 80% neutral barrels, and 10% Ssainless steel.  The wine completed 2/3 of itself in malolactic fermentation so it is imbued with a creamy texture. Aromas of tropical fruits, including pineapple and passion fruit, beeswax, citrus and floral notes of jasmine.  The palate is generous, and mouth-coating, with nuances of baked pie crust and waves of salinity. The attractively balanced acidity does a lively dance along the mid palate throughout long and satisfying finish.   And I’ll bet this Averaen Chardonnay will outperform most commercial Chardonnays at the table.


In short, this is a wine that will change your mind about Chardonnay.


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