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By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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Chardonnay -
a wine for enjoyment
A 4-Part Series

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(In the order of their
publication dates)

Wines from Italian

A 4-Part Series
Published Jan & Feb 2018

Cabernet Sauvignon
and Blends

A 3-Part Series
Published Nov & Dec 2017, and Jan 2018

Merlot Sausage Challenge
A 3-Part Series
Published Oct & Nov 2017

Bordeaux Buddies
A 3-Part Series
Published Sep & Oct 2017

White Wines for Seafoods
A 4-Part Series
Published Aug & Sep 2017

Pinot Noir and
Copper River Salmon

A 4-Part Series
Published Jun & Jul 2017

Red Rhone Varietals
and Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published May & Jun, 2017


Wines of the Week
...Index to Archive


Archived Selection
of Wine Reviews

Organized by varietal




Last Week's "Wines of the Week"

Published March 28, 2018

Versatile Chardonnay
Part 3 of a 4-Part Series  (Part 1)  (Part 2)  (Part 4)
By Chuck Hill

With each week’s tastings, we continue to appreciate Chardonnay for its versatility and its ability to add enjoyment to a meal. This week, we savored a flight of exemplary wines with Dungeness crab cakes and Remoulade sauce. This mayonnaise or aioli-based sauce features herbs and spices that work well with many Chardonnays. 

Something I have noticed again this year is that many wines improve with aeration. Before you render a judgment on a wine as being lifeless and closed in, give it some air by swirling in your glass or even decanting the bottle with aeration. 

Chehalem Wines
2016 Chardonnay, INOX
Willamette Valley AVA

This unoaked Chardonnay has been a favorite with my tasters for more than a decade (originally as a seafood or oyster wine)... an all-around crisp, dry white for any lighter cuisine. INOX is the French term for stainless steel, and the wine is indeed produced solely in stainless steel tanks. Look for aromas and flavors of bright apple and tropical citrus with hints of exotic fruits and spectacular minerality. 

Mercer Estates
2015 Chardonnay, Reserve
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

The grapes for this tempting Chardonnay come from the Zephyr Vineyard – a property co-owned by the Mercer family and the Hogue family. Aromas of stone fruits, pineapple and vanilla entice a taste, revealing flavors of apricot and pear with notes of caramel and vanilla, finishing with sur lie character from barrel aging. 

Daven Lore Winery
2016 Chardonnay
Ancient Lakes AVA

This winery  ̶  in the foothills of Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills southwest of Prosser  ̶  was named with a combination of two family names: Davenport and Taylor. The crafty, grape-stealing coyote on the label is named “Petro” after petroglyph. Enjoy this crisp and aromatic Chardonnay for its floral and lemon scents leading to flavors of pear, citrus and mineral. 


Chehalem Wines
2015 Chardonnay, Ian’s Reserve
Stoller Vineyards, Dundee Hills AVA

This classic Oregon reserve-style Chardonnay is now made from grapes from Stoller Vineyards in the Dundee Hills AVA near Lafayette, Oregon. Crafted with a blend of new and once-used French oak, the wine offers rich aromas and flavors of baking spices, Meyer lemon, orchard blossom, peach and vanilla – great with crab cakes! 

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2016 Chardonnay, Mimi
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

This wine is named after longtime Chateau Ste. Michelle vineyardist Mimi Nye, sometimes referred to as “the keeper of Canoe Ridge” for her devotion to the Horse Heaven Hill vineyards. This is a refreshing Chardonnay that ticks all the boxes for Columbia Valley Chardonnay: ripe pear and apple fruit, hints of vanilla on the mid-palate, and a crisp finish of citrus and mineral. 

Charles Smith Wines
2015 Chardonnay

This delectable Chardonnay from Charles Smith Wines is a great value for everyday sipping or serving at a dinner party. It is medium-bodied with juicy flavors of Asian pear, melon, citrus and exotic tropical fruits. 

Pacific Crest Wine Co.
2015 Chardonnay
Columbia Valley AVA

Pacific Crest Wine Company is a proud sponsor of the Pacific Crest Trails Association and donates a portion of the proceeds of each bottle sold to helping preserve and protect the Pacific Crest Trail. This flavorful Columbia Valley Chardonnay offers aromas and flavors of floral perfume, tropical fruits, vanilla and spicy oak. 

Willamette Valley Vineyards
2016 Chardonnay, Estate
Willamette Valley AVA

The Willamette Valley Vineyards estate is just southeast of Salem, Oregon. The expansive visitor center welcomes wine lovers with views of the vineyard, cozy fireplaces and wine-tasting flights. Other highlights are winery tours and food selections prepared by the winery chef. The estate Chardonnay offers aromas and flavors of citrus zest and stone fruits with pear, hazelnut and spicy oak. 

Eola Hills Winery
2015 Chardonnay, Barrel Select Reserve

Eola Hills Winery was one of the first in the Salem, Oregon area, founded in 1986. Tastings are offered at the original winery just south of Highway 22 in Rickreall and at the new Legacy Estate in the Eola Hills on Oak Grove Road. Enjoy this rich and toasty reserve Chardonnay with crab cakes or other seafood specialties. 

Eola Hills Winery
2015 Chardonnay, Sparkling Brut

Crafted from grapes grown at the winery’s estate Wolf Hill Vineyard, this wine is made in the methode champenoise where the final fermentation takes place in the bottle. This cuvee is bright with lemony acidity and complex flavors, sparkling with a fine bead of bubbles to tickle your nose and welcome a celebration.

Wines from other areas

Rothschild Domaines d’Aussieres
2016 Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc, France - $15.00

Domaine d’Aussieres has been a great estate of the Languedoc since the Roman era, and during the Middle Ages, it belonged to the celebrated Abbey of Fontfroide. This wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel, yielding a bright and fragrant wine with aromas of orange blossom and grapefruit, and flavors of pear, white peach and lemon zest. 

La Crema
2015 Saralee’s Vineyard Chardonnay

In 1993, Jess Jackson bought La Crema winery and with the help of winemaker Dan Goldfield, elevated the quality of the wines and enhanced the winery’s reputation as a top producer of Burgundian varieties. Chardonnay from Saralee’s Vineyard is highly prized for balance and elegance with aromas of orchard blossom and stone fruits, leading to flavors of pear and apple with hints of vanilla and caramel. 

Freemark Abbey
2016 Chardonnay
Napa Valley

Freemark Abbey winery dates back to the pre-prohibition days of the late 19th century when the historic stone winery was constructed by Antonio Forni and named Lombarda Cellars after his birthplace in Italy. Today, the winery follows traditions going back to 1967 when modern-era Napa winemaking favored Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. This rich and toasty Chardonnay features pear and baked apple with oak spice and vanilla. 

Domaines Brocard Saint-Louis
2015 Chablis, AOC, Franc

This Chardonnay carries the Chablis AOC giving it status to be thoughtfully considered. My tasters found aromas and flavors of earthy mineral, pear and stone fruits with a fresh palate that pairs well with seafood and lighter meats.

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To find contact information for most of the wineries in the above text,
visit our alphabetical lists for Northwest States.


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©  April, 2018  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 04/04/2018