OWP panel picks top-five faces

In a land known for Pinot Noir, let us not forget the other famous Burgundian favorite, the white one. This month’s selection proves how even in ranges affordable for Tuesday night, Oregon is on its way to earning a top spot in the world of Chardonnay. Try these examples from the last three vintages for a mix of oaked and unoaked excellence.

Chehalem 2014 INOX Willamette Valley Chardonnay

A lively sweet-tart of a wine, INOX’s aroma is abuzz with honey and notes of ripe apple and pear. A lime zing refreshes the palate with every sip. Pair this slightly off-dry summer sipper with spicy food or light fish dishes that benefit from a squeeze of citrus. $19; 5,850 cases

Girardet Vineyards 2012 Umpqua Valley Chardonnay

With an elusive nose showing a touch of mineral and hint of peach, this wine presents bright lemon-lime and mineral notes in the mouth. Pair this delicate wine with herbed chicken or a mild cheese and sliced apples. $20; 660 cases

Irvine Family Vineyards 2013 Oregon Chardonnay

An enticing aroma of pink grapefruit mixed with vanillin (oak) segues to a blast of acid zippiness on the palate elevating a creamy macadamia nut base-note. The winery recommends pairing with grilled fish, roast chicken, truffles, mushrooms and cheese. $29; 804 cases

Maryhill Winery 2014 Columbia Valley Chardonnay

With tempting aromas of buttered toast mingled with smoky oak, perfume and ripe banana, this pick produces few surprises on the palate. Floral notes bloom into a distinct flavor of rose petals carried on a long, creamy-textured, lengthy finish marked with hints of tart orange. Try with a substantial fish, such as salmon or halibut steaks, or by itself via a porch swing on a warm evening. $15; 4,101 cases

Left Coast 2014 Truffle Hill Willamette Valley Chardonnay

Aromas of grapefruit, honeysuckle and fresh rain repeat on the palate with additional flavors of limestone and citrus. Its finish lingers long and its overall enjoyment is well agreed upon. Pair with mild sheep’s milk cheese garnished with a grind of white pepper and drizzle of citrusy olive oil; winery recommends “French country dishes.” $24; 1,049 cases

The Oregon Wine Press tasting panel has selected the following wines based on overall quality and value within their respective categories. To the best of our knowledge, they are currently available in the marketplace. Wine must be: 1) produced by an Oregon winery; 2) priced (retail) $30 or less for reds, $30 or less for Chardonnay, $30 or less for dessert and sparkling wines, and $25 or less for remaining varietals; and 3) currently available to consumers. Recommended wines were selected using a double-blind method and a 20-point ranking system for appearance, aroma, taste, balance and finish.

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