2019 Violin Wine, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The divine and mineral driven Violin Willamette Valley Chardonnay is bright and intensely fresh, very Burgundy like in style reminding me of Bruno Colin St. Aubin and or Robert-Denogent Saint-Veran, this is a fabulous bottle for the price, sourced from two vineyard sites, with a blend from 75% Sojeau Vineyard set on a complex set of marine sedimentary soils at high elevation in the Amity-Eola Hills AVA and 25% sourced from the red and iron rich Jory (volcanic) soils of the Black Walnut Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Winemaker Will Hamilton notes here that while Dundee is known for deep, volcanic clay, this cap on the hilltop, where he gets his Black Walnut Vineyard fruit, has shallower soils where the vines find some fractured basalt bedrock and the main site in the Eola Hills is on serve and dramatically steep rocky slopes with helps explain the depth and more mineral driven flavors and subtle fruit in this outstanding effort. Brilliant in its delicacy and with a crisp dry profile this 2019 Willamette Valley Chard displays lemon preserves, Bosc Pear, stone fruit and tree picked golden delicious apple fruits with a hint of wet stones, clove spice, hazelnut and a whiff of white licorice along with a refined sense of used French oak toast. This wine is the best of what can be achieved in Oregon Chardonnay and should be on your radar, as is Hamilton’s Pinots, which are incredible terroir driven offerings.

Violin Wine, a Pinot Noir focused label, was established in 2013 by winemaker Will Hamilton and is gaining quite a reputation for high quality small lot wines from distinct sites here in the Willamette Valley, especially Hamilton’s single vineyard series, which tend to be cool high elevation sites, as well as a couple of value packed regional wines like this beautiful and detailed Willamette Valley Chardonnay. Prior to founding Violin Wine, Hamilton spent several years making wine at Walter Scott, one of the Willamette Valley’s elite producers and cut his teeth making some of the most sought after wines in Oregon, and now his wines are creating a buzz of their own and wines such as his Sojeau Vineyard Pinot Noir from vines in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, that I reviewed here recently, plus this Chard are proving his talents. This wine saw a whole cluster pressing that, as Hamilton explains, was followed by a brief, 24 hour settling before barreling juice with virtually all lees available. Only ambient yeasts instigated fermentation in both lots in barrel, which completed primary fermentation between 30 and 50 days, and malo-lactic conversion within several months, after which the wine aged for close to a year. Then wine, only 125 cases made, was then settled in tank with a cold stabilization and bottled unfined, though with a gentle filtration for clarity, the resulting Chardonnay is very focused, with a supple texture, a medium body, aromatic and restrained, perfect with poultry, white fish and crab dishes.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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