I am on a Chardonnay kick. Wait. Let me edit that. I am on a QUALITY Chardonnay kick. As in, recently, I threw out 3 bottles of Chardonnay after the first sip because they are still adhering to the old-new world expression: over-oaked, buttery spread. But trends are changing: everything that’s old is new again and that goes for the “Chablis-style” Chardonnay. I recently attended a panel discussion of winemakers making wine in this style (please read The Chardonnay Style Spectrum) and I am so pleased that the industry is headed this direction. And much of this is headed by the Oregon wine industry. Chardonnay may be the most widely planted white wine grape in California, but it is creeping up the Oregon ladder (currently still behind Pinot Gris) — and these guys are doing it right. Case and point: Panther Creek Cellars.
About the Wine: The Panther Creek 2016 Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay harvested from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Specifically: 65% Carabella Vineyard (Chehalem AVA), 27% Grand Moraine, and 8% Maverick, (both Yamhill Carlton AVA) Willamette Valley. The wine aged in 100% French oak (25% new) for 16 months.
Flavor Profile: Out of the bottle of the Panther Creek 2016 Chardonnay comes a light yeasty scent, reminiscent of fresh baked bread, and nutty aromas of cashew, coconut macaroons, and a sliver of apple. This Chardonnay emits a pale straw color on the pour and a bit more golden in the glass.
Initial aromas are still of those soft nuts with the addition of floral notes as well like gardenias, lilacs and citrus blossoms. Swirl and enliven a bit of acidity and add scents of meyer lemon and fuji apple.
The palate of the Panther Creek 2016 Chardonnay is zingy with fresh acidity, lemon zest and pith, lemongrass, lime pith. Yet there is still an overall softness to the texture, with just a gentle coat of dryness on the tongue. The finish is a lingering tartness of green apple. The back breath is delicately laced with honeysuckle and florals.
Food Pairing: I enjoyed the Panther Creek 2016 Chardonnay over the course of a week — sometimes as a refreshing accompaniment to a meal and sometimes as an aperitif. This wine is completely suitable either way and I recommend experimenting with the occasion for this wine. It completely satisfied my craving for a less “worked on Chardonnay,” on that is more old-world, French-inspired. I wish I had a whole case of this so I could greedily open a bottle any time I wanted.
More Info: I received the Panther Creek 2016 Chardonnay as a gift from the winery. (Cheers Madelaine!) Price: $45. For more information about Panther Creek Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Panther Creek Cellars website.
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