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soter chardFor many years they tried to grow good Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley without much success until they figured out that the California-sourced clones were not a good match for their soils. But since importing the Dijon clone from France in the late 1970’s, the quality of Chardonnay from Willamette has slowly improved and today it seems everyone is jumping on the Chardonnay bandwagon. And why not since Chardonnay sells.

In general, Willamette Valley Chardonnay is crisp, lean, and fresh with modest oak and very little of the buttered-popcorn opulence that traditionally characterized Chardonnay from their neighbor to the South. This bottling from Soter is typical.

White peach and lemon provide a foundation for lovely hazelnut aromas; with aeration the crushed rock characteristic of Willamette Valley really shows. This nut/mineral coupling sets this wine apart.

There is more peach and apple on the taut palate. The medium body still manages to feel delicate until early acidity rushes in and forceful minerality takes over. The  long, mouthwatering, lemony finish is on the tart side but still acceptable.

This is not gorgeous, rich, or complex. With only 13% new French oak (30% used), and only 37% undergoing malolactic fermentation, the winemaker’s aim is clearly to let the fruit speak. It is a wonderful food wine that rocked a plate of pasta with red sauce.

Fresh, lively, and a little sassy but poised–like Tegan and Sara’s “The Con”

Score: 88

Price: $32

Alc: 13.2

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