Back in April, while judging for the Seattle Wine Awards, table went through a couple of flights of about 15 Washington Chardonnays each. There seemed to be a depressing sameness about most of them, with only a couple of standouts in each flight. Most of the wines had good varietal character but without distinction. So, later on, in May, I was thrilled to find some real standout Chardonnays that displayed terroir and microclimate specificity. Two were from The Walls, Ali Mayfield and Mike Martin's winery in Walla Walla. They came from the White Salmon Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. From volcanic soil and from a transitional climate, they showed great precision and site specific distinction. Then, a few weeks later, I visited Coman Din at his Co Din winery in Grandview. Sourced from the Rosekamp Vineyard on Snipes Mountain and with southern exposure, again I discovered distinctive character. These wines are:
2014 The Walls "La Lutte" Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge, White Salmon Vineyard ($42) - Reviewed June - 19/20 points.
2014 The Walls "McAndrew" Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge, White Salmon Vineyard ($42) - Reviewed June - 19/20 points.
2013 Co Dinn Chardonnay, Snipes Mountain, Rosekamp Vineyard ($45) - Reviewed July - 19.5/20 points.
Since then, I have run across a few more outstanding, site specific Washington Chardonnays:
2015 Owen Roe Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, DuBrul Vineyard ($48) - From a block planted in the 1990's, this shows distinct Rattlesnake Hills minerality and varietal purity. To be reviewed in the November issue 19+/20 points.
2015 àMaurice Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Conner Lee Vineyard ($32) - To be reviewed in November - 19/20 points.
2015 Buty Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Conner Lee Vineyard ($42) - To be reviewed November 19+/20 points.
Conner Lee, situated on Radar Hill in the Frenchman Hills near Othello is a fine source of Chardonnay. Great varietal precision and distinct minerality.
2014 Domaine J. Meuret Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge, White Salmon Vineyard ($35) - From the same vineyard as The Walls above. To be reviewed December - 19+/20 points.
2015 L'Ecole No. 41 Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes, Evergreen Vineyard ($35) - The caliche soil and old vines make this a distinctive Chardonnay. To be reviewed in December - 19+/20 points.