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6 Wines to Help you Fall for Washington Chardonnay


Displays of gold, orange and red leaves in the vineyards foretell cooler weather. Blankets of clouds, emergent, protectively hug the Horse Heaven Hills. As the progressively shorter days and longer nights nestle into fall, I crave Chardonnay. For me, Chardonnay is the wine of choice for this season.

Clouds forming on the Horse Heaven Hills.

Today, I have six recommended Washington Chardonnays which are suitable for your fall repasts and celebratory occasions. Chardonnay remains the most popular white wine variety for a reason. Because it can be so darn good and affordable too. It is a variety which can be expressed in numerous ways, nutty, fruity, dry, oaked, unoaked, crisp and pale to heavy and dark. A supremely expressible and food compatible wine.

For the ABC partisans, think of these recommended wines as conversion therapy. Don't behave like the elusive White Zinfandel drinker. Give Chardonnay another try, Washington Chardonnay that is. You can thank me later. Cheers!

6 Recommended Washington Chardonnay

Ashan Cellars Chardonnay, Kestrel Vineyards.

1. $45 Ashan Cellars ChardonnayGorman Winery, Woodinville, WA.

When you think 95+ point wines, what is your association? Red wine, right? But white wines can also score well too. The Kestrel Vineyard Ashan Cellars Chardonnay by Chris Gorman is one of my favorite wines. Lovely, lovely wine and one I would dearly love to re-visit. Cool label too.

This wine is produced from the oldest existing Chardonnay vines in Washington state. Kestrel Vineyards original 1972 plantings of the Wente Clone in Prosser, Washington. Exotic melon and citrus flavors meld with a full textured Chardonnay mouth-feel. Wild Yeast fermented in 100% New French Oak. Highly Recommended.

2. $14 Barnard Griffin Chardonnay – Barnard Griffin Winery, Richland, WA.

The Washington Chardonnay I continue to return to is one I have enjoyed over many years. That is, the Chardonnay made by winemaker Rob Griffin of Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland, Washington. I've been a fan since well before they opened their tasting room in 1997.

For me, Barnard Griffin is synonymous with Washington wine. I even worked for Barnard Griffin Winery 2005 - 2007. We have a history. Link to my review of the Barnard Griffin 2013 Chardonnay. Recommended + Great Value.

3. $25 Shirley Mays 2014 Chardonnay – Dunham Cellars, Walla Walla, WA.

Minimal oak exposure, elegant and expressive. My style of Chardonnay. 2014 Shirley May Chardonnay – portion stainless and barrel, 100% malolactic, bottled in June 2015, winemaker is fond of Chardonnay. “White Burgundy style” going for mouth feel. Frame the fruit with texture, not barrel. Expressive of the vineyard. 100% Chardonnay.

Shirleys Mays Chardonnay is dedicated to Cancer Survivors. Dunham Cellars is doing their part to help find a cure for breast cancer. October is breast cancer awareness month. Dunham Cellars is proud to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure through the Puget Sound Affiliate. Link to my visit and tour of Dunham Cellars. Strongly Recommended.


4. $14.99 Gordon Estate 2014 Chardonnay – Gordon Estate, Pasco, WA.

Gordon Estate is located in the heart of the Columbia Valley in Washington State. They are the oldest estate winery in Washington State and use only estate-grown grapes in making their hand-crafted Washington wines. In 1985, Jeff Gordon released his first small lot of Chardonnay wine produced from their estate vines.

Gordon Estate, previously known as "Gordon Brothers," has been served at my table for over 25 years. I encourage you to discover the wines of Gordon Estate. A true Washington original. This is a well executed Chardonnay which satisfied my craving. Fresh, new world style with minimal oak. My speed. Suggest grabbing an extra bottle if you have to share. *Will have a full review posted soon. Strongly Recommended.


5. $17 Kestrel 2014 Old Vine Chardonnay – Kestrel Vintners, Prosser, WA.

I have a habit of drinking Kestrel wines and not reviewing them. Because they are that good! Winemaker Flint Nelson and his team at Kestrel wines use some of the best fruit grown in the Yakima Valley. Kestrel has a 126 acre estate vineyard, which includes their famous Kestrel Vineyards Wente clone Chardonnay, planted in 1972. Yes, I'm a fan of that fruit.

This wine was lighter than expected at open, filled out within the hour. Young vintage which will develop further in bottle. Buy a case now and enjoy a bottle every couple of months for 2 years of anticipated pleasure. *I will have a more detailed review soon. Recommended.


6. $10 Tall Sage 2014 Chardonnay – Goose Ridge Winery, West Richland, WA.

Tall Sage is the Monson Family’s tribute to a man of great stature, the founder of Goose Ridge Estate Vineyards, Arvid Monson. A tall sage is one that develops deep tap roots, and like Arvid himself, sustains the life around it.

On day two: Nutty pear, brioche, smooth, freshness that was missing day one, tacky on tongue, slightly bitter with sage on the bigger finish. More my speed. Serve chilled and enjoy. *I will have a more detailed review of this wine soon. Recommended.


I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy these wines at your home this season. They truly are a pleasure with food and friends!


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