Chardonnay Reserve 2016
In the early 1990s, Luisa Ponzi lived and worked with one of the greatest white wine producers of Burgundy while continuing her studies in viticulture and winemaking. The Chardonnay she experienced there became a passion and, upon her return to Oregon, a mission. She has been one of the most outspoken advocates of Chardonnay in Oregon, has witnessed 3 decades of experimentation with clones and soil types, and we can say today is making some of the most compelling Chardonnay in the United States.
Ponzi was in fact one of the first to plant and produce Chardonnay in Oregon, in the early 1970s. The difficulties with those early vintages for producers in Oregon was due to the use of a warm-weather clone brought from California, which could not ripen fully in Oregon. In the early 1990s Ponzi started planting french clones, and that change altered the path of Oregon Chardonnay. Luisa went further, experimenting with additional clones and rootstocks, and then with the vinification.
It’s safe to say that Luisa Ponzi’s breadth of experience with Chardonnay in Oregon is unparalleled.
The 2016 Chardonnay Reserve is a blend of Ponzi’s LIVE Certified Sustainable Avellana and Aurora Vineyards blended with Paloma, Alloro and Three Cedars Vineyards planted on Laurelwood soil in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, along with Sunset View and Bunker Hill in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.
The fruit was whole-cluster pressed and the juice moved to French oak barrels (15% new) and fermented in barrel using partial wild yeast. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and 100%. Lees were stirred once a week for 6 months and racked after 12 months to very neutral oak. After 20 months of total barrel age, the wine was moved by compressed gas to tank for blending, then bottled by gravity. This wine has been aged in bottle for 3 months before its release. Alcohol is 13.6%; pH is 3.26.
For the last three years we have been defining the new normal with early vintages in the Willamette Valley. 2016 jumped out of the gate with bud break a full 3 weeks earlier than what we are accustomed to. Flowering was condensed by a heat spell and an early summer gave us beautiful warm temperatures until August when it heated up. Harvest arrived later that month and was in full swing by early September. All fruit was in the door by the first part of October. Fruit quality was immaculate with absolutely no disease pressure. Fruit set was small due to the short flowering time. Berry size was also small resulting in lower yields and gorgeously intense fruit. I would liken 2016 to the 2006 vintage where we saw lush, beautiful wines with unexpected elegance and acidity, but in achingly short supply. Truly, a stellar vintage for Oregon.
Honeycomb, quince, candied orange and cardamom lift from this nose along with heady gardenia, white pepper and meyer lemon. The mouth is silky with flavors of verbena shortbread, grapefruit and oyster shell.
All of their vineyards have been LIVE Certified Sustainable, the highest international standard of sustainable viticulture.
Suggested Retail Price
James Suckling - "This is a complex chardonnay with a wealth of ripe peaches and pears, framed in attractive, grilled-cashew and praline nuances. The palate has very composed texture and freshness and delivers a sturdy, concentrated impression with pears, lemons and grilled hazelnuts to close."
Other Wines by this Producer
One of the original and most recognized Oregon and U.S. Pinot Gris producers, Ponzi was a major influence in establishing Pinot Gris as the first quality white grape variety in Oregon. Ponzi's Pinot Gris is an irresistably aromatic and expressive wine, and serves as a first encounter for many wine drinkers with Oregon wines and the Ponzi estate.
Pinot blanc was planted at Aurora Vineyard in the early 1990s, taking advantage of an ideal portion of the 80-acre site. This versatile white wine is a wonderful alternative to Pinot gris. Beautiful floral aromas of jasmine and magnolia mingle with notes of lychee, lemongrass, beeswax and green tea mochi with a touch of cardamom. The textured mouth is reminiscent of shortbread and the freshness of rainwater and wet slate with bright, juicy acidity that encourages another sip.
Tavola is Ponzi's delicious early release Pinot Noir, a fruit-forward wine with soft tannins, made primarily from younger, lower elevations vines. Meant for early consumption, it is an unbeatable value for quality Pinot Noir.
The "classic" representation of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, this wine encapsulates the experience, innovation, top vineyard sources, and expertise of the pioneering Ponzi family. Among the first to make Pinot Noir in Oregon and the United States and, since the start, among the very best.
Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve is the epitome of restrained power. It hails primarily from estate grown fruit on Laurelwood soils in the Chehalem Mountains, including from some of Oregon’s oldest vines. This remarkably complex wine is handcrafted with tremendous attention to detail.
Oregon Chardonnays present an unparalleled combination of bright acidity, texture and freshness of fruit on the mid-palate. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi’s goal is to allow the wines to express these characteristics each vintage through single vineyard expressions. Aurora yields an elegant wine with bright acidity and fruit.
Oregon Chardonnays present an unparalleled combination of bright acidity, texture and freshness of fruit on the mid-palate. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi’s goal is to allow the wines to express these characteristics each vintage through single vineyard expressions. Planted in 2006, Avellana yields a richer, weightier style of Chardonnay as compared to the Aurora single vineyard wine.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Aurora means sunrise and represents an unparalleled combination of bright acidity, texture and freshness of fruit on the mid-palate. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi’s goal is to allow the wines to express these characteristics each vintage through single vineyard expressions. Aurora yields an elegant wine with bright acidity and fruit.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Avellana is a “younger” vineyard planted in 2006. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi’s goal is to allow the wines to express these characteristics each vintage through single vineyard expressions. Avellana yields a richer, weightier style of Pinot Noir as compared to the Aurora single vineyard wine.