Sips of Recently Tasted White Wines
2013 Bravium Abbassi Vineyard Sonoma Carneros Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.7, 212 cases,
$34. Sourced from an old vine vineyard planted in 1976 to Wente clone Chardonnay. Whole cluster pressed,
fermented in Hungarian oak barrels, most of which had been seasoned for 4 years. Partial malolactic
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Those nose opens nicely over time to reveal pleasing aromas of white peach, honey, vanilla and a hint of floral goodness. Bright flavors of lemon and pineapple are presented in a crisp style with a welcome hint of oak seasoning and a slightly shrill, soprano finish.
2013 Decoy Sonoma County Chardonnay
39,600 cases, $20, screwcap. Sourced primarily from Russian
River Valley and Carneros with a core of 30% Sangiacomo
Chardonnay. A majority of the wine was fermented in stainless
steel (10% in new French oak barrels).
Delicate yellow color in
the glass. The nose leads with aromas of fresh apple, lemon,
hay, nutty oak and salt air. Slightly creamy on the palate, with
inviting flavors of green apple, pear, and pineapple. Notable balance
and easy drink ability. Amazing quality at this high production level.
2013 Frank Family Vineyards Reserve Lewis Vineyard Napa Carneros Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.23,
TA 0.64, 1,000 cases, $65. Dijon clones. Aged 11 months in 100% new French oak barrels.
Light golden yellow
color in the glass. The nose exudes aromas of lemon oil, crème brûlée, honey and nutty oak. Discreetly lush
on the palate with a slightly viscous mouth feel, offering hi-tone fruit flavors of lemon, grapefruit, white peach
and pear. A very like able wine with good vibrancy, complimentary oak highlights, and a dry, thirst-quenching
2013 Noble Vines 446 San Bernabe Monterey Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $12. Clone 4, Block 46.
Very light platinum color in the glass.
Welcoming aromas of cut apple, slate and subtle smoky oak.
Soft in the mouth with impressive harmony, offering demure but pleasing flavors of apple, pear, melon
and vanilla cream. Equal to many Chardonnays offered at two to three times the price.
2013 Red Car Estate Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay
13.8% alc., pH 3.31, TA 0.73, 280 cases,
$58 (sold out). Inaugural release. Old Hyde Wente selection. Wild yeast fermentation. Aged 14 months in
French oak barrels, 17% new and 83% neutral.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose leads with
steely aromas of citrus oil and green apple. Refined and smooth on the palate, with good richness of flavors
that include lemon curd, baked pear, spice and vanilla. The wine is vibrant, with a good underlying cut of
lemon-infused acidity, and some intensity and persistence on the slightly tart, peach-infused finish.
2013 Spell Russian River Valley Chardonnay
15.0% alc., 98 cases, $38. Sourced from Dutton-Sullivan
Vineyard planted in 1982 to a Wente selection of Chardonnay on its own rootstock. Aged in 100% French oak
barrels, 25% new, 50% twice-used and 25% older.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Delicate
aromas of peach, pineapple and grilled lemon. Rich and luscious on the palate, with appealing flavors of
peach, citrus, poached apple and caramel. The alcohol is well integrated, the texture is slightly creamy, and
there is some finishing fruit persistence.
Pinot Noir Blanc
The pulp and juice of the Pinot Noir grape are clear and most of the aromas, flavors and color of Pinot Noir comes from the
grape!s skins. A white wine can be produced from Pinot Noir if the grapes are pressed after harvesting, avoiding any skin
contact with the juice. The resulting wine is the essence of Pinot Noir grape juice or Pinot Noir Blanc.
Pinot Noir Blanc should not be confused with Pinot Blanc which is a white grape genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. It is often
confused with Chardonnay, and wineries vinify it in a similar style, sometimes using barrel fermentation and malolactic
fermentation. It can also be made into a crisper style wine vinfied in stainless steel.
I don!t understand why one would take perfectly good Pinot Noir grapes and vinify a white wine that lacks the typical
aromatic and flavor profile of Pinot Noir that wine drinkers adore. It is a quirky, curious wine that may interest those looking
for something different, but I would rather drink a glass of red Pinot Noir. Because these wines are made from expensive
Pinot Noir grapes, the price can be surprisingly high for a white wine, further diminishing its redeeming value.
My favorite Pinot Noir Blancs that I have tasted over the past few years have all been from Oregon: Prismé from Annie Amie
Vineyards ($40), Coeur Blanc from Domaine Serene ($95), Left Bank Pinot Blanc from Left Coast Cellars ($20), and
“Corduroy” Pinot Noir Blanc from Phelps Creek ($59).
2013 Bravium Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Steel Tank Aged Pinot Noir Blanc
12.9% alc., pH 3.29, TA
0.77, $49. Pommard, 37, 115, 538, 667 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, immediately separated from skins upon
arrival at the winery. Spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel drums followed by aging in stainless steel
Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Pleasant but highly unusual nose sporting aromas of mashed
banana, bergamot, citrus, green leaf and pecans. Similar to a white Rhone wine on the palate, with flavors of
pear and peach set off by a subtle herbal tone. Slightly plush in the mouth with good vibrancy on the finish.
2013 Bravium Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Oak Barrel Aged Pinot Noir Blanc
12.7% alc., pH 3.29,
TA 0.77, $49. Pommard, 37, 115, 538, 667 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, immediately separated from skins
upon arrival at the winery. Spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel drums followed by aging in neutral
French oak barrels.
Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Shy aromas of citrus oil, white stone fruits and
vanilla. Rounder and more polished than the steel tank aged version, with spirited flavors of yellow stone fruits
and citrus, and a finish flush with fruit.
2014 Raptor Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.5% alc., $20, screwcap. Whole cluster pressed,
fermented in stainless steel tanks.
Very light yellow color in the glass. A crisp, clean wine that offers lemon,
grapefruit, lychee and floral scents that are echoed on the palate with added notes of pear and yellow apple.
Thoroughly satisfying, with good balance and brightness.
2014 Siduri Arber Vert Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.5% alc., 232
cases, $24, screwcap. Adam Lee has crafted a Pinot Noir from this vineyard in the past but this is the first
release of Pinot Gris.
Light orange color in the glass. Pleasant, but shy aromas of yellow peach and white grape. A tasty core of poached pear and peach fruit is downgraded by an herbal, vitamin note. The wine has
bright acidity and a dry finish.
2013 Winter’s Hill Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.0% alc., pH 3.18, 600
cases, $17. Whole cluster pressed, fermented slowly in stainless steel tanks at low temperature.
Malolactic fermentation blocked.
Very light yellow color in the glass. Quite appealing with noticeable
harmony, this crisp and refreshing wine offers flavors of apple, pear and citrus, with a lemon-infused
finish. It reminds me of biting into a ripe, crisp apple.
2014 Winter’s Hill Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
13.0% alc., pH 3.05, 286 cases, $17. Whole
cluster pressed within hours of harvest. Fermented slowly to dryness in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic
Very light yellow color in the glass. A little reduction upon opening resolves over time in
the glass. Aromas of pear, grapefruit and toast. Very high-pitched on the palate with tart flavors of grapefruit
and lemon-lime. The wine finishes with a dry, soprano finish. Not particularly enjoyable on its own, this acidic
wine will show better with fried or fatty foods.
2014 Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
13.4% alc., pH 3.23, RS 1.8 g/L, $20, screwcap. Sourced from
Aurora Vineyard (Ponzi’s LIVE Certified Sustainable vineyard - 74%), Zenith Vineyard (19%) and Thistle
Vineyard (7%). Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation prohibited.
Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Demure aromas of poached pear, nectarine and honey lead to a
light bodied, but flavorful, core of white stone fruits with a hint of citrus. A delicate, but pleasant wine with a
slightly sweet finish. This wine is more akin to Pinot Gris than Chardonnay and will pair well with shellfish and