Kestrel Chardonnay 2019
dried apple, raw celery, honeydew, honeysuckle
Even though we have featured many Kestrel wines over the years as club and weekly features, I cannot find any record of spotlighting their Chardonnay. This is very surprising because this wine is produced from the oldest Chardonnay vines in Washington State, planted in 1972. Less surprising, but an interesting fact, is that all the vines are the Wente clone, which was originally carried to California in 1912 by C.H. Wente. This clone makes up roughly 80% of all the plantings in the US, but very little in Washington State. In the Pacific Northwest most vintners prefer the Dijon clones, which produce consistently higher yields. The reason why Kestrel has Wente is simple, in 1972 when the vines were planted the Dijon clones had not been brought to the US!
The hallmark of Wente clone Chardonnay is low yielding vines, and a more aromatic profile to the fruit. Planted high in the hills over looking the Yakima Valley, Kestrel’s vineyard is hot during the day but very cold at night, so this accentuates the ripeness and acidity. Winemaker and viticulturist Dr. Letizia Rocchi who took the helm at Kestrel in 2017, has transitioned the winery to organic farming, with the 2021 vintage being fully certified. To preserve the fantastic fruit quality she receives from the vineyard the wine is aged in acacia barrels to minimize the flavor and aroma wood.
On the palate the wine is quite dry, with moderate concentration and an enticing streak of volcanic minerality throughout. Drink 2023-2024 with grilled chicken breasts, baked salmon or with a charcuterie and cheese board.