Dec 10, 2014

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96 Oregon Chardonnays in 1 Day

Yesterday, I blind tasted 96 Oregon Chardonnays, and I’m fairly certain that the small group of wine writers, sommeliers, winemakers and wine buyers that were selected to blind taste these 96 wines have tasted more Oregon Chardonnays in one day than anyone else in the world – it was an amazing experience!

Why in the world would we taste 96 Chardonnays in one day?

red slate table best with glasses full

Glasses filled with our first flight of six Oregon Chardonnays at Red Slate Wine Co. | photo credit: Oregon Chardonnay Symposium

The Fourth Annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium will take place at Stoller Family Estate on March 14, 2015.  Attendees of this very special event have the option to participate in a Technical Tasting followed by a Grand Tasting that features approximately 40 of the state’s most representative Chardonnays – the largest tasting in the state of its kind.  Our group of wine professionals was selected to taste and rate the 96 Chardonnays that were submitted for the 2015 event, in an effort to narrow in on 40 Chardonnays that best represent our region’s incredible Chardonnays to be featured during the Grand Tasting.

Blind tasting Oregon Chardonnay | photo: Oregon Chardonnay Symposium

Blind tasting Oregon Chardonnay

Each year, the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium examines the past, present and future of Oregon’s distinctively unique Chardonnays, and in 2015, exploring the specific characteristics of various clone groups will be a main focus during the Technical Tasting.

With Chardonnay clones as the center of attention, and the famous Dijon clone being the most widely planted in the state, I wasn’t too shocked to discover that 90 percent of the Chardonnays that were submitted were produced from the Dijon clone, with just 10 percent consisting of  an assortment of other clones; some that I knew (Wente and 108) and some that I was not familiar with at all (548, Musque and Espiguette).

red slate the randy

The Randy – the most delicious sandwich from nearby Olympic Provisions

The blind tasting took place at Portland’s Red Slate Wine Co., owned by Sommelier David Speer, the same owner of the popular Champagne Bar, Ambonnay, located just down the hall.  David not only provided the perfect space for the event, but he was one of the wine judges, as well.  Hosted by co-founders of the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium, Erica Landon of Walter Scott Wines and Paul Durant, of Durant Vineyards, the tasting concluded without a hitch, beginning at about 10 am and ending at 4:30 pm.

One of Portlands most famous charcuteries makes some killer sandwiches

One of Portlands most famous charcuteries makes some killer sandwiches

Judging a various range of stylistic approaches while searching for the best representation of Oregon Chardonnay, we rated each of the 96 wines from 1 to 5, with 5 being absolutely flawless.  Some of us would agree in unison regarding a particular wine, while the next flight would render a roller coaster of votes.  A welcome lunch break brought on one of the the most delicious sandwich I have ever had: “The Randy” – honeycrisp apple, buttermilk blue cheese, sweetheart ham, hazelnuts, frisée and aioli – piled high on the most deliciously crusty and mouthwatering ciabatta bread.  Provided by the highly acclaimed Olympic Provisions, located in the same building as Red Slate and Ambonnay, I’m absolutely 100 percent certain that I will some soon drive straight from Eugene to Portland solely for another Randy sandwich, which would really pair nicely with a glass of Champagne from nearby Ambonnay.

A shot of the empty bottles about half way through the tasting.

A shot of the empty bottles about half way through the tasting.

Results of the tasting, the 40 wineries chosen for the Grand Tasting, will be announced soon on the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium Facebook page and their website.  Tickets for both the Technical and Grand Tasting are available for purchase on the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium website here.  With a line-up that includes some of Oregon’s pioneers and top producers; including, Jason Lett of Eyrie Vineyards, Mimi Casteel of Bethel Heights, John Paul of Cameron Winery and more, this is one event that is not to be missed.

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