Boedecker Cellars of Portland, Ore., is principally a maker of pinot noir wines from grapes grown in the state's Willamette Valley, a region justly acclaimed for its superb pinots. But it also makes a cheeky chardonnay from the same region with a flavor profile unlike any other chard we've tasted. It is unoaked, fermented and aged in small steel barrels on the lees.
The 2011 Boedecker Cellars Purity Chardonnay (about $19 at big box stores locally) introduces itself with a delicate nose of light green apple and hay. It follows through on the tongue with plenty of tart green apple, a bit of nectarine and a subtle citrus kick. It is on the long, nearly astringent finish that its fundamentally different character fully reveals itself as underlying green papaya surfaces and dominates. We like this unusual chardonnay, but those who expect the buttery, oaky variety typical of California will be surprised and perhaps put off.
We recommend trying this idiosyncratic chard with smoked meats or fish.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.