Rick Small and Kevin Mott continue to lead the trend and champion the cause for food-friendly, refined Chardonnay in the Pacific Northwest. In the 2014 vintage, there’s a significant increase in the percentage of clone 108 estate fruit (49%), but widely acclaimed Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge and its Wente clonal selection still takes a narrow lead (51%). They have dialed in their Burgundy barrel regime to 20% new wood, which accounts for subtle aromas of oak and there is a touch of butter, the focus is on clean and round notes of orchard fruit. Inside, there’s a gorgeous presentation of Golden Delicious apple, pear and fleshy white peach with hints of minerality. There’s roundness on the midpalate yet a crisp and clean finish, making for remarkable complexity and tremendous balance. Fortunately, Woodward Canyon nearly doubled production of their Chardonnay from the 2013 vintage. This merited a double gold at the 2016 Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition, an annual scholarship fundraiser for Walla Walla Valley Community College’s viticulture and enology program.
Production: 1,114 cases