2019 Elk Cove Vineyards, Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay "Goodrich Vineyard"
2019 Elk Cove Vineyards, Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay "Goodrich Vineyard"

2019 Elk Cove Vineyards, Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay "Goodrich Vineyard"

Oregon, United States 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$42.00

2019 Elk Cove Vineyards, Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay "Goodrich Vineyard"

After tasting the “Goodrich” Pinot Noir from Elk Cove, and marveling at its depth and balance, we had to get our hands on some Chardonnay from the same vineyard. Lucky for us, and all of you, the winery had a small cache of 2019 in the cellar and we were able to secure a precious few cases. Why were we so thrilled? While Chardonnay plantings in Willamette Valley have ebbed and surged over the years, these days Chardonnay is on the rise again, although total acreage still trails that of Pinot Gris. What’s obvious to us, though, is that Chardonnay produces the superior wine: It has more tension and texture, a more “upright” bearing, and not surprisingly, one of the first families of Oregon wine—the Campbells of Elk Cove—have turned out a pitch-perfect rendition. We were so impressed with this wine’s nerve, balance, and luxurious (but not overblown) texture. At five years of age, this wine is a case study in why Oregon can, and should, make world-class Chardonnay. What a find!

As noted in this morning’s discovery, Joe and Pat Campbell were key players in Willamette’s historic first decade of winegrowing with the installation of the first vines for their Elk Cove estate in 1974 (now a part of the Yamhill-Carton AVA). The ambitious, hard-working couple purchased an abandoned fruit orchard, had it cleared, and began to install the original vineyard while living on the property in a trailer with their small children. The existing homestead barn was converted into their first winery and a family home was eventually built from reclaimed wood. Joe, an ER physician, continued working nights while Pat managed the day-to-day business and they both logged long hours in the vineyards and making the early wines. At the time, there were fewer than 10 wineries in Oregon. 

The Goodrich Vineyard, acquired by Elk Cove in 2014, is situated within the Yamhill-Carlton district of the Northern Willamette Valley. Originally planted in 2007 to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the site feels some cooling influence from the nearby Van Duzer Corridor, which creates a funnel for Pacific currents through a gap in the Coast Range. Soils in this vineyard are a coarse-grained, well-drained mixture of marine sediments of the “Willakenzie” Series. In the early fall the bunches are harvested by hand, and then are “whole-cluster pressed” to a mixture of large oak puncheons and smaller oak barrels, both used and new. Following fermentation, the wine is aged in oak for a full 12 months, with lees-stirring carried out after malolactic fermentation has been completed.

Although it is barrel-fermented and aged, and went through bâtonnage (lees-stirring) to boot, the “Goodrich” Chardonnay is in no way “buttery,” tropical, or flabby—the freshness and focus (and modest alcohol content) is impressive and appealing, giving this Chardonnay a very Old World, “Burgundian” feel. At the same time, there’s great concentration of ripe yellow apple fruit, a touch of honeysuckle, and a delicate kiss of oak-derived spice. Serve it cool, not too cold, in a nice Burgundy stem and enjoy the aromas of orchard fruit, lemon zest, citrus blossom, raw almond, wet stone, and that same hint of baking spice that is on the palate. Spring is in full bloom, so our advice is to grab a few bottles of this Chardonnay and a few bottles of its Pinot sibling from the same vineyard, then invite the friends and family over for a Pacific NW themed grill of steelhead or salmon, and king crab. That’s a party we’d all love to join!

2019 Elk Cove Vineyards, Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay "Goodrich Vineyard"

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