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Roots Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019

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Country/State Oregon

Region Willamette Valley



Type Wine

Read About the Wine



There is something magical about Willamette Valley Chardonnay - and this one, from Roots, is extra special. 

I’ve actually been tracking Roots Winery since the 2006 vintage, which was their first commercial release in Wisconsin. It is so named Roots because winemaker and owner Chris Berg was born in Racine, Wisconsin; I’ve seen it grow from a tiny winery of about 100 cases of wine, to a rather still-small winery making 5,000 cases. In all that time I’ve tasted some dramatic wines, but Chris’s 2019 Chardonnay is an absolute stunner. 

I think everyone in the land knows that White Burgundy is actually Waterford Water - we absolutely love it. And one of our favorite styles of white Burgundy is the smoky, full-bodied, rich style of Chardonnay that wine cognoscenti now often label as “reductive” (reductive referring to the smoky quality that comes from a lack of oxygen in the winemaking). And while I dislike saying that Chardonnays that do not come from Burgundy are “Burgundian” in nature, I am gonna say it here, because this is so apt a rendering of Chardonnay:

Chris Berg’s Roots opens with the color of harvest sunshine, golden highlights with shades of bright green, crystal blue and reflections of the sky. On the nose, aromas of white flowers, succulent melon and stone fruit, flint, green almond, and orange flower reach out to enchant the taster.  Unlike many American Chardonnays, the palate is firm and polished, with a succulent fleshiness that's just to the point of satiation. This is heaven in a glass, and completely chuggable - for at Waterford, elation, sophisticated appreciation, and enthusiastic home-pours go hand in hand. 

But why now? you may ask. If you started in 2006 with Chris Berg, why has it taken 13 long years of pining to finally bring his Chardonnay to Wisconsin?

Well, the long answer is a story for another day, but since we overflow with uninhibited uridition, here is a medium-sized answer, followed by a short one. For as long as anyone can remember, Oregon has been trying to produce good Chardonnay but has been stymied by California clones. Cali clones need lots of sun and heat, which Oregon doesn’t get, thus from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, about three-quarters of Oregon’s Chard harvest was a bust. It wasn’t until the late 2010s that small-berry (Dijon) clones became available in Oregon … and the real magic started. Short story: Oregon’s Chardonnay is totally nascent, but totally delicious. Get in on the ground floor before prices soar to the level of their Pinots!