No American wines have captured our attention quite like the Chardonnays from Walter Scott in Oregon. American Chardonnay is, of course, a stacked category, one with no shortage of great producers in it. But even in that crowded field, Walter Scott stands out. Put simply, these are some of the best wines being made in the country right now, offering terroir expression and ageworthiness rivaled only by white Burgundy.
It's no secret that the Willamette Valley is Pinot Noir country. Pinot is far and away the most planted variety in Oregon, and any other varieties are frankly an afterthought for many wineries. But slowly, quietly, there's been a change happening, and people are starting to realize Willamette is also an amazing terroir for Chardonnay. No one is making a stronger case for Oregon Chardonnay as the next great category than Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon at Walter Scott (named for family members of Ken).
Ken has been making wine in the Willamette Valley for over 20 years, starting with the famed St. Innocent winery in 1994. In 2008, he began his label, focusing primarily on Pinot Noir. While making his wine on the side, he took a job at Evening Land, where he had the opportunity to work under the legendary Dominique Lafon of Meursault. Lafon's influence is obvious in the wines: more than once we've been poured these wines blind and been so struck by their detail and precision that we were convinced we could only be drinking great white Burgundy. Ken's techniques are directly inspired by the Burgundian masters he has learned from on annual visits to the region, and results are incredible.
Like with Burgundy, and unlike so many other American Chardonnays, overt fruit is not the focus here, but rather minerality and harmonious texture. Crushed oyster shells and citrus is the name of the game, along with structure built for the long haul. This is American Chardonnay for the lover of white Burgundy, Chenin Blanc, and Champagne. It's rare that we are able to offer the full lineup of Chardonnays, and we have no doubt that these will soon be very tightly allocated (and more expensive), so stock up while you can.