A gift of quality in quantity. After 2013, a dry, warm beginning to 2014 was welcomed. Bud break took place a few weeks earlier than average, and beautiful weather continued throughout flowering, setting healthy and bountiful clusters of big berries. Dry, hot weather throughout the growing season allowed for a higher than average crop to finish ripening without any issue during a typically cool September with a couple light rain events that had no ill effect on the health of the fruit. In general, physiological and sugar ripeness was high with moderate acidity.
Chardonnay from Yamhill Vineyards was hand-picked 9/27/14.
Two in a row. An encore to 2014, spring weather created perfect conditions for another early bud break in 2015, which was followed by even, clement weather through flowering. Heat spiked beginning in June, and 2015 began notching higher than average day and nighttime high temperatures, pushing ripeness for a larger than average crop, with large berries and clusters. Scattered showers and a cooler late August transitioned into a wonderful early September, with cool, dry conditions allowing harvest at ease with high physiological and sugar ripeness with moderate acidity.
Chardonnay from Yamhill Vineyards was hand-picked 9/15/15.
In a word, phenomenal. A typical spring in 2016 became warmer earlier than both 2015 and 2014, a trend that continued into June, allowing bud break and flowering to get off to a strong start. Weather in July and August become more moderate, cooling off slightly, and a couple light rain events were no concern. An low to average sized crop set saw perfect growing conditions in September, and many sites were harvested earlier than ever with wonderful physiological and sugar ripeness and high but balanced acidity.
Chardonnay from Yamhill Vineyards was hand-picked 9/10/16.
Chardonnay from Loubejac was hand-picked 9/16/16.
Chardonnay from The Eyrie Vineyards was hand-picked 9/20/16.
After a cool start and slightly later bud break and flowering, a warm, dry summer encouraged even ripening to a slightly heavy crop load. Starting in early to mid September, the weather cooled, and as sugar accumulation stuttered, light rains here and there diluted flavors and acidity. After a few warm, dry days, flavors bounced back and picking windows quickly came into focus before disease/rot pressure increased. Clean fruit was harvested in good conditions with moderate acidities, ripe flavors. A classic Willamette Valley vintage with bountiful yields.
Chardonnay from Durant Vineyard was hand-picked 9/15/17.
Chardonnay from Seven Springs South Block was hand-picked 9/28/17.
Chardonnay from Yamhill Vineyards was hand-picked 9/29/17 and 10/5/17.
Chardonnay from Loubejac was hand-picked 9/29/16.
Chardonnay from The Eyrie Vineyards was hand-picked 10/2/17.
Chardonnay from AlexEli was hand-picked 10/3/17.
What is almost certain to be the defining facet of 2018 is the lack of rainfall we received in the Willamette Valley. Bud break and flowering took place in ideal, if dry conditions. Consistently warm and dry summer days were followed by cool and dry nights. As hydric stress tempered berry and cluster size, accumulation of sugar advanced ahead of flavor development. As cooler daytime temperatures arrived in late August, physiological ripeness began to catch up with sugars, and acidity remained firm. Scattered rain showers in the middle of the second week of September were followed by a stretch of beautiful fall days and nights. The rain accelerated ripening, and cool temperatures prevented rapid spread of disease pressure. Younger vines will be harvested on the earlier side, and older vines will do well into mid/late September. Thus far, Willamette Valley Chardonnay in 2018 has good acidity and electric flavors at potential alcohols which I deem balanced under 13%.
Chardonnay from Durant Vineyard was hand-picked 9/10/18.