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Oregon Chardonnay Exceeding Expectations


Chardonnay may make up just 4% of Oregon’s planted vineyards today, but we think that with time it is going to rival Pinot noir in respect and popularity. A tiny percentage of that 4% is old heirloom vines like those at Maresh Vineyard, Evening Lands’ Seven Springs Vineyard and Eyrie’s Estate Vineyard. Their old vine wines draw huge scores and devoted fans for a tiny total production. Now new wineries like Ebony and Walter Scott are planting and committing for the longterm to the old 108 and similar clones that have proven to make world-class wines.


Chris Mazepink, Ebony WinesEbony The Hive Chardonay 2011
$26.95 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($29.95 retail)

We know Ebony winemaker Chris Mazepink’s taste in Chardonnay – he lives nearby and stops in to taste with us regularly. So when he told us he was making a Chardonnay from the 2011 vintage, we knew it would be right up our stylistic alley.

138 cases, plus magnums! As you know, we like to write our own tasting notes, but Chris’s were so spot-on, and nearly identical to ours: “The aroma is a perfume of apple blossom opening to flavors of lemon lime citrus and honey cream with slate, minerals and balanced acidity keep it fresh and uplifting. This is the wine I’m most proud of and follows the direction that Oregon Chardonnay is going.”

This is fantastic, unfined and unfiltered Oregon Chardonnay – as Chris says, “it’s the vineyard in a bottle.”

Chris Mazepink named his Chardonnay “The Hive” to evoke the vineyard where the grapes were grown – an idyllic place where honeybees buzz in the vineyard and apple orchard and fields bloom with spring flowers and herbs. A shower of apple blossom petals float in the breeze – the essence of spring.

Chris strives to make a “richly textured and voluptuous wine, intensely flavorful.¬† Made with native yeast fermentation and no filtering¬† in “the old style: older vines and traditional methods, it beckons to salads, poultry and seafood. We’re drinking it like crazy at home right now, it’s just right for spring.”

The Hive is made entirely from 108 clone Chardonnay. The fruit for this wine is the old 108 clone from the Left Bank Vineyard in the Eola Amity Hills.

“I am focusing on the heirloom varieties of Oregon Chardonnay. Of the 4% of the grapes planted in Oregon that are Chardonnay, only a tiny portion are heirloom rather than the dominant Dijon clones planted in the early 2000′s.The tiny amount of old-vine self-rooted Chardonnay like that from the Maresh and Eyrie Vineyards is the inspiration for the renewed interest in Chardonnay in Oregon. I’m in it for the long haul, planting a variety of heirloom Chards in our Olenik Vineyard on long-lasting root stock.”

138 cases made.

Walter Scott

Perhaps you remember us fawning over the Walter Scott La Combe Verte several months back. The duo behind Walter Scott, Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon, are experiencing their “break-out” moment. We’ve known their taste in Chardonnay for some time, and couldn’t wait for their first release. What’s better than one new fantastic Chardonnay? TWO! Walter Scott uses Burgundy as inspiration while recognizing that Oregon has to find its own voice. With the help of folks like Ken and Erica, that voice is speaking, confidently.

Walter Scott WIllamette Valley Chardonnay 2011Walter Scott Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2011
$20.65 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case*

An electric quality on the nose that makes me sit on the edge of my seat. Lemon curd, Gold-Rush apples (an heirloom variety we’re getting locally – an amazing combo of sweet, tart, and spicy!), and key lime. A silly-good Chardonnay, and silly-limited!- Marcus

A blend of the Bieze and Vojtilla Vineyards, made with a lighter touch resulting in a leaner, brighter style of Chardonnay.

The Vojtilla Vineyard is a 22 year old vineyard on Ladd Hill in the Chehalem Mountains, the Chardonnay off of this site is incredibly linear and bright. We fermented and aged the juice in a Neutral Puncheon for 12 months and then an additional 3 month is neutral oak barrels.

The Bieze Vineyard sits directly above the Seven Springs Vineyard on Lone Star Road and shares a fence line with it. It is a breathtaking vineyard situated on shallow clay over fractured basalt rock. The top soils are thinner and the aspect is due East. It is a perfect little vineyard that we are honored to be working with. – the winery

below, Erica Landon and Ken Pahlow, Walter Scott Wines

Walter Scott Wines' Erica Landon and Ken Pahlow

Walter Scott Cuvee Anne Chardonnay 2011
$33.25 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($36.95 retail)
52 cases made.
Cuvee Anne has a similar character to the Willamette Valley Chardonnay – lots of lemon and lime, flecks of minerals – with a richer and more expansive texture, and a honeyed finish that plays off the bright acidity to perfection.

Cuvee Anne is a tribute to Erica (Anne is her middle name). When Ken met Erica, he had wine in barrel but says he’d still be fumbling around if Erica hadn’t “pushing him off the ledge” into focused winemaking.

More Links

Best Oregon Chardonnay
Our current complete selection

Oregon Chardonnay: A Slice of Sunshine
Matello, Haden Fig Chards

Avalon’s February Wine Club
Ayoub,  Westrey, Mark Ryan, Rasa,
Beaux Freres, Ransom, Corvidae, Walter Scott

Ayoub 2011 Pinot noirs
Estate, Brittan, Meredith Mitchell, Winderlea

Westrey Blowing My Mind
Oracle, Justice 2010 Pinot noirs

Jean Yates

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