By Keir Carter
Photo by Nathan Hayward
What is it that makes Chardonnay from Washington State so special? This simple question has a very complex answer. First, let’s consider that the great Chardonnays of the world are from Burgundy, and that the Burgundian climate is considered cold when measured against most new world wine growing regions like California.
It’s for this reason that many short-sighted wine aficionados turn their noses up at California Chardonnay, in spite of the many worthy examples of what the region can produce. Keep in mind, these winemakers aren’t attempting to make Burgundy as much as they’re seeking to find restraint in one of the most generous climates in the world. As a result, some of these wines are mind blowingly good and unparalleled for American food and wine pairing.
Washington State, however, shares more in common with Chardonnay’s ancestral home. The cold nights and blistering desert like days create a state of developmental confusion in the grape, causing it to demand more on the soils to regulate its energy intake.
Here’s where Devona shines. Made by John Abbot, former winemaker for the now legendary Abeja Vineyards, this Chardonnay has all of the hallmarks of a legendary wine. John is using Wente Chardonnay clones on volcanic soil in Celio Vineyard. A vineyard site so cold the fruit can barely ripen. The nose needs time. Should you decant? Perhaps, but I recommend a slow aeration in the glass.
The evolving nose has a story to tell, and is best enjoyed as it develops. Slow and measured, the fruit reveals itself with subtle notes of lemon curd and pine balanced by minerality that settles the minerality debate definitively.
The palate is notable on many fronts.
The perfect, round mouthfeel is the ideal medium for the the lemon curd aromatic that carries over to the palate. The following flavors of quince, cream and spice last a surprisingly long time. It’s this finish that separates this from all pretenders. Long, leesy and luxurious, you can easily pair this wine with richly prepared dishes like seared day boats scallops with a cheesy semolina gratin, or more American menu fixtures like southern fried chicken.
In spite of that, I’d recommend this wine be enjoyed on its own. It’s got an interesting, unique story to tell. One well worth listening too.
About Keir Carter: Keir boasts the #1 wine tour company in the NYC metro area, Pair Wine Tours.