Chuck Hill on Wines and Wine Country with links
Main menu bar for Wines Northwest


By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

About Chuck

Follow Chuck on Twitter




Versatile Chardonnays
for Spring

A 4-Part Series
Published April 2016

Italian Varietals for 2016
A 4-Part Series
Published Jan & Feb 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon
and Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published Nov & Dec 2015

Thanksgiving Wines
Published Nov 16, 2015

Meat My Merlot
A 4-Part Series
Published Oct & Nov 2015

Bordeaux Buddies
The Blending Grapes

on their own
A 4-Part Series
Published Aug & Sep 2015

Wines for Oysters
and Mussels

A 4-Part Series
Published July & Aug 2015

Pinot Noir & Salmon
A 4-Part Series
Published June & July 2015


Index to Archived
Wines of the Week
...Earlier Columns


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal


Book Reviews







































Last Week's Reviews
Published April 21, 2016

Versatile Chardonnays for Spring
Part Four of a 4-Part Series  (Part 1)  (Part 2)  (See Part 3)
By Chuck Hill

Winter showers have abated, pointing to May flowers and light al fresco meals in the not-too-distant future. Choose a flavorful and balanced Chardonnay from today’s selections to pair with dozens of springtime dishes. 

Woodward Canyon Winery
2014 Chardonnay

The Reserve House restaurant at Woodward Canyon opens for the summer on May 13, so plan your trip to Walla Walla for wine tasting and wood fired pizza.  This wine comes from Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge and the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard in Walla Walla.  Enjoy aromas and flavors of ripe pear, caramel apple, toasty hazelnut and notes of mineral and citrus. 

Anam Cara Vineyard
2013 Chardonnay, Estate
Willamette Valley

Oregon Chardonnays offer excellent balance and structure, the keys to a successful pairing with your finest lighter meals.  Nick and Sheila Nicholas came to Oregon in 2001 and established their vineyard and winery in the Chehalem Mountains AVA.  This unoaked Chardonnay from Dijon clone vines offers grapefruit and spice with tingly mineral, apricot and floral notes. 

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2014 Chardonnay, Cold Creek Vineyard
Columbia Valley AVA

Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Cold Creek Vineyard was established in 1973, making it one of Washington’s oldest plantings.  The venerable vines produce small clusters of intense fruit – flavor packed and concentrated.  I enjoy the complexity of this wine, reveling in tropical, toasty and citrus aromas with flavors of vanilla and caramel enhancing the palate. 

Dancin Vineyard
2014 Chardonnay
Southern Oregon AVA

Dan and Cindy Marca combined parts of their first names to create Dancin in 1996, but it was a decade later when they found their property near Jacksonville in Southern Oregon.  They specialize in micro lots of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, meticulously hand crafted and offered to dedicated fans.  This bottling features aromas and flavors of green apple, spicy gumdrop, anise and tropical fruits. 

Eola Hills Wine Cellars
2014 Chardonnay, Reserve La Creole

This landmark Oregon winery was founded in 1987 in Rickreall, just off Highway 22 west of Salem. Owner Tom Huggins also has tasting rooms at the estate vineyard north of the winery and in downtown McMinnville.  The reserve Chardonnay offers tropical aromas of pineapple and banana with creamy vanilla and apple, leading to a balanced palate mineral and citrus adding to the mix. 

Array Cellars
2012 Chardonnay, Dijon Clone
Yakima Valley AVA

Array Cellars proprietor Henry Smilowicz works closely with winemakers Brian Carter and Robert Takahashi to craft only Chardonnay wines from select vineyard sites in Washington State.  His Dijon-clone Chardonnay comes from Otis Vineyard in the central Yakima Valley – perhaps the oldest Dijon clone vines in the state. This vintage continues to evolve, offering earthy forest floor character with aromas of tropical fruits, butterscotch and baked apple.  

Maryhill Winery
2014 Chardonnay
Columbia Valley AVA

Mark your calendar to attend Maryhill’s 15th Anniversary Celebration on Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30, 2016.  Live music each day, wine sales, tasting and, hopefully, beautiful sunny weather for bocce, terrace sipping and dining.  Don’t miss the 2014 Chardonnay for aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, white peach, honeysuckle and notes of toasty oak and vanilla. 

Snoqualmie Vineyards
2014 Chardonnay
Columbia Valley AVA

Check out this great value Chardonnay from Washington’s Columbia Valley.  Winemaker Joy Andersen blended in 5% Viognier to add complexity to this wine from one of the state’s warmest vintages.  Citrus and pear dance with hints of orchard blossom, vanilla and tropical fruits. 

Tsillan Cellars
2014 Chardonnay, Estate
Lake Chelan AVA

With summer coming on, it’s time to plan your visit to sunny Lake Chelan to enjoy one of Washington’s up and coming wine regions.  Sorrento’s Ristorante at the winery offers “The romance of Tuscany on the shores of Lake Chelan,” and was voted one of America’s top scenic-view restaurants by Open Table.  The 2014 Chardonnay offers ripe stone fruits, pear and apple within a cocoon of toasty oak and vanilla. 

Desert Wind Winery
2014 Chardonnay
Wahluke Slope AVA

Desert Wind Winery is in the heart of Washington’s Yakima Valley wine country, just off I-82 in Prosser.  Visitors can book overnight stays at the Inn at Desert Wind with southwest décor, views of the Yakima River and complimentary breakfast.  Enjoy the 2014 Chardonnay for its fresh pear and apple flavors with notes of floral perfume and vanilla. 

Wines from other areas: 

Grgich Hills Estate
2013 Chardonnay
Napa Valley

Grgich Chardonnay is a perennial favorite with my tasters, offering the ultimate in complexity and balance with food-friendly character.  Aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, pear and apple, flinty mineral and creamy, toasty vanilla lead this standout to the top of the rankings. 

William Hill Estate
2013 Chardonnay
North Coast

William Hill winemaker Mark Williams crafted this expressive Chardonnay from grapes grown in Sonoma, Solano and Mendocino, using whole-cluster pressing, barrel fermentation and sur lie aging.  Look for tree fruits and baking spice with notes of tropical citrus, creamy vanilla and good acid for food pairing. 

Castello Banfi Fontanelle
2014 Chardonnay
Toscana IGT

Castello Banfi’s vineyards are in the southern part of Montalcino where the soil is calcareous and well drained.  This wine is fermented 25% in stainless steel and the remainder in French oak barriques.  The barrel-fermented wine is aged with lees stirring, then blended with the wine from stainless.  Aromas of tropical fruit and vanilla lead to a rich palate of apples, peach and apricot.

#          #          #


One-year Archive of previous Wines of the Week reviews

Contact Chuck

Back to Chuck's Main Page

©  May, 2016  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 05/12/2016