Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 1

EDITOR'S

note

Chardonnay
from the Ground Up
T

en years ago, confronted with a list of California or Oregon chardonnays, I would have
turned the page. Most, if not all, were facsimiles of Puligny or Meursault; whether artisanal
or industrial, they were made to a style. Winemakers spoke first about the forest that grew
the oak for their barrels, the clones of vines that came from Burgundy or the percentage of
malolactic fermentation. There was little talk of vineyards specific to great chardonnay, of
vineyards that spoke through the wine.
In the intervening years, there have been many attempts to produce wines in a different,
tighter style, but, to a large extent, the emphasis was still on style-the market was
dominated by the lean and underripe and the sweet, oaky butterbombs.
Then I visited some vineyards with Mark Tarlov in the Eola-Amity Hills, including the
former Witness Tree Vineyard that Chapter 24 had just purchased, intending to plant
both chardonnay and pinot noir. Tarlov poured me a wine labeled "00" that his team had
made from Bunker Hill, a vineyard in the South Salem Hills, and it tasted like it came from
somewhere. As vague as that may sound, I could imagine a connection between the flavor
of the wine and a place I had never visited-mainly because it didn't taste like anything
I'd tasted before. It was the same connection I sensed when, a few days later, tasting with
Larry Stone at Lingua Franca, I asked about the source of an astonishing chardonnay and
it turned out to be Bunker Hill. Elaine Chukan Brown has had similar ah-ha moments with
Willamette chardonnay, and had already started discussions with Luke Sykora, our senior
editor, about a story. But I hadn't been on board until that moment.
I had already been convinced about the chardonnays from the Sta. Rita Hills, where
direct Pacific impact from both the south and west has formed an unusual collection of
soils, creating starkly different chardonnays. We had seen that most clearly when Ian Becker
led a team to Santa Barbara County for our first Sommelier Scavenger Hunt in 2014, and a
bunch of sommeliers came back jazzed about the region's varied chardonnays.
The ground is such a powerful factor in the Sta. Rita Hills that growers and winemakers
can produce anything from a lean Chablisienne style to a powerfully rich chardonnay, and
the site character still comes first.

T

oday, after four decades working in wine, I can say that West Coast chardonnay is exciting
to taste and to drink. And, in addition to our annual October issue projects to highlight
the Best New Sommeliers as well as our current 50 favorite places to eat and drink in San
Francisco, we're excited to share Elaine's article on Willamette chardonnay, along with
Bryce Wiatrak's story on pairing Sta. Rita Hills chardonnay with dinner.
In the time between booking these chardonnay stories and editing them, Luke Sykora
has been offered a great new gig as the senior travel editor at Sunset magazine. So this is
the last issue to which he will contribute tasting notes, and I will miss tasting the California
wines with him. Geoff Millar has joined our SF team, from his post as the sommelier at
Delfina, just a few blocks away from our office there. He is also a terrific taster, offering a
fresh perspective on the wines we've been tasting together for reporting later in the year.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the chardonnays we've packed into our Year's Best section on
page 60, as well as some of the other great bottles we're featuring in this issue.

JOSHUA GREENE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - October 2017

Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 4
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 6
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 7
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 8
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 9
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 10
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 11
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 12
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 13
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 14
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 15
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 16
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 17
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 18
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 19
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 20
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 21
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 22
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 24
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 25
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 26
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 28
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 30
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 31
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 36
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 37
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 38
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 39
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 40
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 41
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 42
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 43
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 45
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 46
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 47
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 48
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 49
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 50
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 51
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 52
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 53
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 54
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 55
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 56
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 57
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 58
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 59
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 60
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 61
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 62
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 63
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 64
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 65
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 66
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 67
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 68
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 69
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 70
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 71
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 72
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 73
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 74
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 75
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 76
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 77
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 78
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 79
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 80
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 81
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 90
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 91
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 94
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 97
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 98
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 99
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 100
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 101
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 109
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 111
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover4
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