Oregon Chardonnay has truly started to come into its own. In some cases, the best examples of Chardonnay are even more exciting than many of the Pinot Noirs coming out of the state’s small producers. This is mainly due to the inevitable learning curve of new regions: the original clones planted were not well suited to Oregon (they were imported from California and ripened too late). Today, with better clones, the wines offer a significant range of styles, and seem to offer a lovely approach to texture and secondary flavours versus the more classic fruit forward style that was popular for some years. One certainty is that Oregon continues to increase quality and, in my view, the new breed of top quality Chardonnays is helping it keep apace with the rapidly improving California wine scene.
A Wine Inspired by Burgundian Genes and Vinification
Bergstrom was founded in 1999 and has been biodynamic since 2000. The winery is known for a fuller, richer style. They are not always to my liking, but their 2012 vintage of the top Sigrid Chardonnay is, in my view, a very successful marriage of a full style with acidity and minerality. That shift to more aromatics, lower alcohol and greater acidity is conscious and if you have only had the older wines it is worth revisiting to see how winemaker Josh Bergstrom has evolved his style. The wine is very drinkable with food but also on its own. I believe it can go toe to toe with some of the best ‘full bodied’ style Chards coming from around the world.
One of the reasons it is so good – and, indeed, the top wine from Bergstrom – is due to Josh Bergstrom managing to obtain two clones of Chardonnay from Puligny-Montrachet (clones 76 and 96). The wine is a blend of four vineyards – de Lancellotti, Gregory Ranch, Temperance Hill and Anderson Family Vineyard. Other reasons include the use of whole cluster pressing, followed by 12 months in oak (40% new and no toasting) and then 6 months in steel. This practice was inspired by Jean Marc Roulot. The use of steel after oak allegedly increases the tension and minerality in the wine.
In conclusion, this is exceptionally delicious Chardonnay that is exactly the way I like the bigger style to taste – lushness alongside precision, freshness and minerality.
Other top quality Chardonnays to look for include Cameron’s Clos Electrique, Domaine Serene’s single vineyard Clos de Lune, Cote Sud, and Clos du Soleil, and Antica Terra’s Aurata. These are just a sampling as more and more top quality Chardonnays are being made in a wide variety of styles.
$114 + tax at Kits Wine