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February’s 29 days of Chardonnay

a collaborative project


Bears, Zombies & Chardonnay oh My!

Authored by Sarah Cabot Moore

There’s this old saying that my father taught me: “sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.”  I see Chardonnay that way (I think I see all wine grape fermentations that way, but for the sake of drama….).  I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to vinifying Chardonnay – I do live in Oregon after all… I do, however, see hope for our little Northwest state in the realm of production of quality Chardonnay.

I haven’t been to Burgundy since I’ve known anything about wine and I’ve never been to Chablis.  I know I covet Grand Cru Chablis above almost anything else but that’s purely because it’s the one classification that I have come to know that I can trust to be exactly what I want and more.  So, the terroir in Chablis is limestone, rocky as hell, also known as Kimmeridgian.  I don’t really think that knowing those words is going to make the wine in your glass taste any different but at least you can talk the talk should you choose to.  Maybe the only way to escape the zombie apocalypse is to be prepared to have ridiculously pretentious discussions about wine… maybe the zombies are allergic to pretention.

I kid, I kid.  In any case, if there’s any wine that escapes the restrictions of pretention, it’s Chardonnay.  Here in Oregon, it’s quite vigorous and quite susceptible to early-onset botrytis.  You can make the most innocuous, unidentifiable white wine with it or you can make a distinct, unusual white with it.  Really, your biggest obstacle is the cost of oak.  That and the fact that there are a great number of grape growers here in the great state of Oregon who farm their Chardonnay for yields and yields alone… kind of like grass seed.  Awesome.  So here you are with a 4+ ton per acre yield on Chardonnay that should’ve been cropped at 2.5 tons per acre and it’s up to you to produce a masterful white wine.  Masterful.  Yeah, that’s right, we don’t fuck around here in Oregon, we’re masterful.

Ok, my hackles have gone down at this point and I realize that the most important thing I have to say is this: in the case of Chardonnay, Oregon is where it’s at for theNew World and a little oak and a little love will take you a long way. I feel privileged to engender myself with all the other blithering idiots that think they have a viable reason to give discourse on the production and appreciation of Chardonnay.  If I can recommend anything it would be a William Fevre Vaudesir (Grand Cru Chablis).

Try it.  You’ll like it.  If you don’t, go suck an egg.

After graduating from Berklee College of Music, with a degree in Jazz Composition, Sarah Cabot Moore returned to Seattle and by accident, fell in love with all things vinous. She then chose to return to school and earn a Certificate in Enology/Viticulture from the Northwest Winemaking Academy, and set her eyes on Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Sarah has worked, as the Assistant Winemaker for Belle Pente Vineyard and Winery, and is currently the Assistant Winemaker at WillaKenzie Estate Winery. In addition, Sarah plays the lead roll as Executive Winemaker for Omero Cellars, a new up and comer, located on Ribbon Ridge.