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Willamette Valley 2021: Chardonnay report and top-scoring wines

Oregon's reputation both domestically and abroad was built on the shoulders of the Willamette Valley's Pinot Noir. Yet, Oregon's 2021 vintage has produced ethereal Chardonnays from the best producers and they are among the top-scoring wines of the vintage.

On the rise of Oregon Chardonnay, I had a conversation with David Adelsheim, founder of Adelsheim Vineyard and the first chair of the Oregon wine board, about the continuing growth in quality and reputation that has surged over the last decade.

‘Chardonnay isn’t a winemaking technique. It’s a grape,’ he pointed out. ‘In order to make it well, you need winemaking that actually respects the identity of the grape and the variety that you can achieve vintage to vintage.’

Adelsheim advocates for the use of Dijon clones of Chardonnay in the Willamette, where the previously oft-planted ‘selection 108’ from California struggled to ripen.

‘What we’re seeing in the Willamette Valley is a collision of two things; the level of quality possible with careful site and clone selection coupled with a clearer vision of what we can do here. It’s been a gradual recognition over the last ten years or so.’

Scroll down for top-scoring Willamette Valley Chardonnays of the 2021 vintage

Willamette Valley 2021 Chardonnay: 20 of the best

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