WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay 2017
The 2017 Willamette Valley Chardonnay is finesse driven, balanced and classy, offering notes of citrus zest, minerality and chamomile. Texturally, the wine is focused and energetic with sufficient creaminess to balance wine’s structural acidity.
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Impressive aromas of fresh lemons and peaches with lime-pith and spiced-biscuit notes, as well as a hint of praline. The palate then delivers a superbly fleshy and smooth core of rich, concentrated, ripe-peach flavors. Very composed and long. Drink now.
The 2017 Chardonnay Willamette Valley was barrel fermented with 75% malolactic fermentation, and it aged in about 30% new oak. It has inviting scents of poached pears and red apple skin with notes of white blossoms, white peach, cheese rind and oyster shell. The palate is light to medium-bodied with a lightly rounded texture and a good core of fruit lifted by juicy acidity, finishing long, clean and refreshing. A restrained but approachable style of Chardonnay.
The winery is now part of the Jackson Family group. It’s 100% barrel fermented and still wound up tight, so decanting will be helpful. Crisp apple fruit, fresh as can be, is wrapped in accents of toasted hazelnut.
Limpid, green-tinged straw. Fresh citrus and orchard fruits on the nose, joined by a hint of fennel as the wine opens up. Fleshy and broad on entry, then more taut in the midpalate, offering bitter pear skin, Meyer lemon and candied ginger flavors. Finishes long and spicy, with a lingering pear note and a hint of florality.
WillaKenzie Estate is located in Oregon's Willamette Valley on rolling hillsides in the Chehalem Mountains. The winery was named after the Willakenzie soil on which the vineyards are planted to convey the influence that the soil imparts on the wine's flavors and aromas. The vineyards are planted with grapes of the Pinot family, mostly new Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from Alsace. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are cool climate grapes, which are particularly well adapted to Oregon. As winemaker for WillaKenzie Estate, the acclaimed producer of single-vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, Erik Kramer leads all winemaking and cellar
operations. He has been working in Oregon’s Willamette Valley since 2004, where he has built a reputation for world-class wines of finesse and balance. A scientist by training, Erik worked as a hydrogeologist in the petrochemical industry before combining his passion for science and appreciation for fine wine into a career. He spent a few seasons in Washington as a harvest cellar worker before
pursuing a postgraduate diploma in viticulture & oenology at Lincoln University in New Zealand, where he graduated with honors. Kramer went on to craft wine in New Zealand before to moving to the Willamette Valley. Prior to joining WillaKenzie Estate, Erik crafted highly-regarded wines for Domaine Serene and Adelsheim Vineyard. He also holds a degree in geology from Florida State University, which he draws on today when considering the relationship between terroir and wine quality. When not at the winery, Erik enjoys spending time with his family at his wine country home in McMinnville
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a continental climate moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture and the production of elegant wines.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation vineyard sites.
The valley's three prominent soil types (volcanic, sedimentary and silty, loess) make it unique and create significant differences in wine styles among its vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based, Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. In the most southern stretch of the Willamette, the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA soils are mixed, shallow and well-drained. The Hills' close proximity to the Van Duzer Corridor (which became its own appellation as of 2019) also creates grapes with great concentration and firm acidity, leading to wines that perfectly express both power and grace.
Though Pinot noir enjoys the limelight here, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc and Chardonnay also thrive in the Willamette. Increasing curiosity has risen recently in the potential of others like Grüner Veltliner, Chenin blanc and Gamay.
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.