From Washington? From Oregon? From The Columbia Valley
On the second day of the 2010 Wine Bloggers' Conference in Walla Walla, WA, we got a bit of a geography lesson.
The local AVA, the Walla Walla Valley, crosses borders.
See, I’d always thought of the Walla Walla Valley AVA as “Washington wine.” Ditto for its parent region, the Columbia Valley AVA. Problem is, some of the grapes grown in the AVA are grown in Oregon.
As a Californian, this idea is wholly foreign. It’s like when an east coaster talks about driving for five hours and passing through a half-dozen (or more!) states. I live a 7-8 hour drive to Arizona, a 3+ hour drive to Nevada, and a 5-ish hour drive to Oregon. I wouldn’t even know how to get to Idaho from here.
But there it is, an AVA associated primarily with one state, that is nonetheless geographically part of a second.
We took a bus from the Marcus Whitman Hotel into the Land Of No Sales Tax, where I spent about 11 weeks of my collegiate career, and met Lori and Tim Kennedy, proprietors/vintners/viticulturists/etc. for Don Carlo Vineyards, named after Lori’s Italian immigrant grandfather.
These Oregonians are making some fine, fine wine in the name of one of Washington State’s largest AVAs.
The 2008 Don Carlo Chardonnay is a bright golden-yellow in the glass. It’s doesn’t look too heavy or dark, but certainly shows off more color than, say, a sauvignon blanc. The nose is bright and crisp, featuring primarily an apple note, along with a hint of green grass.
The wine is light-bodied and smooth, with enough buttery/oaky character to slake the thirst of those who love the more “traditional” New World chard, but also featuring the apple from the nose and a pleasant cantaloupe note for those who like something a bit crisper and more fruit-forward.
The wine feels just slightly kissed by oak, and should please fans of either style. A fine example of Oregon Chardonnay.