14 Hands Chardonnay 2012
14 Hands is inspired by the unbridled spirit of the wild horses that once freely roamed eastern Washington and the Columbia River Valley. Measuring a modest fourteen hands in height – a “hand” equivalent to the width of one’s palm – these tenacious horses would travel down from the hills every day to drink from the mighty Columbia River and graze along the riverbank to cool off at night. Strong and tenacious, these little horses became known for their endurance and were revered around the world.
This unique and beautiful landscape that gave these unbridled horses their spirit and tenacity now feeds their vines. Loamy sand and gravel soils require a strong and determined grapevine, and their acclaimed vineyards revel in Washington’s world-class terroir. With the fruit from the hardy vines, their Prosser winery handcrafts big, fruit-forward reds and crisp, juicy whites that pay tribute to the legend of the region. Like the untamed horses, they honor with their name, their wild and wonderful wines pack a lot of character into each bottle.
An important winegrowing state increasingly recognized for its high-quality reds and whites, Washington ranks second in production in the U.S. after California. Washington wines continue to gain well-deserved popularity as they garner higher and higher praise from critics and consumers alike.
Washington winemakers draw inspiration mainly from Napa Valley, Bordeaux and the Rhône as well as increasingly from other regions like Spain and Italy. Most viticulture takes place on the eastern side of the state—an arid desert in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. Irrigation is made possible by the Columbia River. Temperatures are extreme, with hot and dry summers and cold winters, during which frost can be a risk.
Washington’s wine industry was initially built on Merlot, which remains an important variety to this day, despite having been overtaken in acreage planted by Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Bordeaux blends and Rhône blends are common as well as single varietal bottlings. Washington reds tend to express a real purity of concentrated fruit. The best examples have a bold richness, seamless texture, plush or powdery tannins and flavors such as licorice, herb, forest floor, espresso and dark chocolate.
In terms of white wine from Washington state, Riesling is the state’s major success story, producing crisp, aromatic examples with plenty of stone fruit that range from bone dry to lusciously sweet. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc perform nicely here as well, and Viognier is beginning to pick up steam.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.