Oregon’s Willamette Valley has long been renowned for its incredible Pinot Noir. The legendary 2012 vintage launched Willamette into the international spotlight as numerous Willamette Pinots hit the annual Top 100 lists and scored well above 90 points. When I first visited Willamette in March of 2015, there wasn’t a lot of white offered in the tasting rooms. There was a lot more Chardonnay and other whites available to taste on my recent trip and a lot more excitement about Willamette whites.
Somewhat lost in the hoopla of these tremendous Pinots, was the success the Winemakers were enjoying with Chardonnay and other white varietals. I came away from my first trip to Willamette convinced that the whites of the region would one day rival, if not equal, the quality of their red counterparts. It appears that day is now closer than ever. The Willamette whites offer a diversity and quality that steps outside the box of most American white wine drinkers.
Willamette Chardonnay is decidedly different than its counterpart to the south in California. Generally speaking, the Willamette style is lighter and fresher with less oak influence. This approach allows the natural flavors of the grapes to be showcased and have greater influence on the finished wine’s flavor profile. Willamette Pinot Gris offered refreshing and tantalizing acidity, which makes it a wonderful food wine, but one that can also be enjoyed stand alone. You’ll also find some Viognier, Pinot Blanc and Riesling in the Willamette tasting rooms.
Here’s a look at some Willamette whites that stood out on my recent trip. All of these wines are available in the Mahoning Valley:
2018 Stoller Family Vineyards Chardonnay $19.99
2017 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur $34.99
2017 Walter Scott Chardonnay $39.99
2017 Evening Land Summum Chardonnay $44.99
2017 Big Table Farm Willamette Chardonnay $52.99
Other White Varietals:
2018 Penner-Ash Viognier $18.99
2018 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris $24.99
2015 Argyle Brut Sparkling Wine $22.99
I hope you enjoy your own investigation of Willamette Valley whites and this guide helps you in your journey. I’ll have one more Willamette column next week covering their incredible Pinot Noir.