33. French Creek Vineyards 2011 Wente Clone Old Vine Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, $26
Damon LaLonde has been growing some of the state’s top Chardonnay at this eastern Yakima Valley site for cult producers such as Maison Bleue, and now he’s holding back some of that fruit for his new project. His work with the historic Wente clone from California’s Livermore Valley — planted at this Prosser site in 1980 — offers a pleasing nose of apple and pear with touches of toffee, butterscotch and toast. Charlie Hoppes finished the fluid, which produces a delicious mouth feel that opens with pineapple and pear with apple butter creaminess on the midpalate. It then bursts with food-friendly acidity akin to lemon juice before the finish of lemon oil and minerality. LaLonde held this back until he felt the time to right to release, and it’s showing no sign of age or the lofty listed alcohol. At this point, these wines are available in Richland, Wash., at the Yoke’s Fresh Market and and Albertsons as well as Meadow Springs Country Club.
Production: 270 cases