Wine Tasting Dinner: Washington Chardonnay



By Kori ~ August 24th, 2011.

Summer has finally arrived in Seattle. When the sun is shining, we tend to turn our attention to white wines. Last Friday, we hosted our 98th wine tasting dinner and featured Washington Chardonnay. While we have had tasting dinners that featured Washington Chardonnay in the past, we realized that we had been remiss in having one since we started this blog in 2008.

It was another fabulous evening of good wine, the company of wonderful friends, and LaGayle’s (Mom’s) excellent food. The wines paired extremely well with our dinner of curried squash soup, spinach and mango salad, chicken tapenade, long grain and wild rice, sautéed haricot verts, and peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. In fact, one of the wonderful things about Chardonnay is how food-friendly it is. All of the wines in this tasting improved with food.

The consensus favorite was the 2010 Sparkman Lumière Chardonnay. It was followed closely by the 2010 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay and the 2008 Phelps Creek Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay. These are three of the best Washington Chardonnays I’ve ever tasted. Five out of the six wines in this tasting were excellent and received a Quality rating of 4 stars or higher (out of 5), and those five wines also received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5). Even though these wines are not inexpensive, they are well worth the money.

If you consider yourself a member of the “ABC” (Anything but Chardonnay) crowd, I encourage you to give these a try. I have a feeling they just might change your mind. And for you Chardonnay lovers, you just might find a new favorite in this group.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2010 Sparkman Lumière Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, greenish straw yellow. Very aromatic with pear and lemon on the nose. More pear and lemon as well as orange peel, Granny Smith apple, and a hint of minerality and vanilla come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine World Warehouse (Seattle, Washington), $25; Available elsewhere, $21 to $26

2010 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay (Washington State): Pale to medium, golden yellow. Very aromatic with pear, apple, nectarine, and vanilla on the nose. More pear, nectarine, and vanilla as well as mineral notes and a hint of lemon come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity and a rich, creamy mouthfeel. Well-balanced with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine World Warehouse (Seattle, Washington), $38; Available elsewhere, $33 to $41

2008 Phelps Creek Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay (Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, Washington): Pale to medium yellow in color. Gorgeous nose with green apple, pear, lemon peel, and vanilla aromas. More apple, pear, citrus fruit, and a hint of spice comes through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity and a rich, creamy mouthfeel. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, beautiful finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $24; Available elsewhere, $24

2009 Dunham Cellars Shirley Mays Chardonnay (Lewis Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, greenish straw yellow. Nice nose with apple, pear, and floral aromas. More apple, floral notes, and a touch of oak come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity and a long, creamy finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine World Warehouse (Seattle, Washington), $24; Available elsewhere, $21 to $25

2009 Baer Shard (Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% unoaked Chardonnay. Pale straw yellow. Aromatic with apple, pear, lemon zest, pineapple, and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle, Washington), $22; Available elsewhere, $23

2008 Boudreaux Cellars Chardonnay (Bishops and Celilo Vineyards, Columbia Valley, Washington): Unfiltered. Medium golden yellow. Aromatic with lemon, butterscotch, and vanilla on the nose. Lemon, tropical fruit, apple, butterscotch, and vanilla come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine World Warehouse (Seattle, Washington), $33; Available elsewhere, $27 to $34


Filed under: American Wine, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

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