2019 Walter Scott Chardonnay La Combe Verte, Willamette Valley, Oregon

2019 Walter Scott Chardonnay La Combe Verte, Willamette Valley, Oregon



Walter Scott is the blood, sweat and tears life partnership of Ken Palow and Erica Landen.  Ken is a veteran of the Willamette Valley wine trade with mentorship from time spent at St. Innocents, Patricia Green, and Evening Lands (Dominique Lafon), while Erica was recognized as one of Portland's top sommeliers.

"OMG!  This Chardonnay is frinkin' off the charts good!" - Renée

"REALLY an amazing wine…..would never guess this is a domestic Chardonnay.  Unexpected minerality and hyper-intensity and complexity.  A real joy to drink.  Firing on all cylinders." - ES

“This refreshing, complex white wine will convert a Chardonnay hater”

“Wine of the Week” – San Francisco Chronicle wine critic Esther Mobley (December 9, 2020)

“Anytime I hear someone tell me they dislike Chardonnay, I feel a pang deep inside.

I understand why Chardonnay can be a polarizing wine. Bad Chardonnays, it’s true, are really bad. It’s hard to fault the people in my life who still carry memories of cheap, industrial Chardonnays that tasted like movie-theater popcorn butter for holding a prejudice against the grape variety.

But it hurts me to know that there’s a whole world of amazing Chardonnay out there that they’re missing. When it’s good, Chardonnay can be so good. And occasionally, I encounter a Chardonnay that seems so objectively, unimpeachably delicious that I’m certain it could convert a Chardonnay skeptic. The La Combe Verte Chardonnay from Oregon’s Walter Scott winery is one such wine.

This is a wine that has it all: tension, structure, richness, intensity. It’s deeply refreshing, but I wouldn’t call it light; the wine has some substance and weight to it. Its aromas and flavors reminded me of sesame, rhubarb and lemon curd — a little salty, pleasantly bitter and full of that elusive character we often call minerality. I found myself compulsively refilling my glass.

At $28, the 2019 La Combe Verte is a fabulous value. It’s the entry-level Chardonnay for Walter Scott, whose owners Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon also make several pricier, single-vineyard versions. But Pahlow says that the La Combe Verte is “the foundation of our philosophy as a winery.”

That philosophy can mostly be summed up by something he once heard Becky Wasserman, the great exporter of Burgundy wines, say: that the mettle of a Burgundy winemaker should be judged not by their wines from grand cru vineyards, but by their wines from the less prestigious Bourgogne-level vineyards. “We want you to be able to say, ‘I’d be happy if this was $75 a bottle,’” Pahlow says.

But the La Combe Verte Chardonnay is not made with any less care or attention to detail than Walter Scott’s higher-end versions. The only difference in the winemaking is that the La Combe Verte (“the green valley,” an homage in part to the late Oregon winemaker Patricia Green, a mentor to Pahlow and Landon) spends fewer months aging in barrel. It’s a blend of wine from vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley, especially its Eola-Amity Hills sub-appellation, plus a small amount of Aligote.

This is the sort of wine I’d buy by the case, and exactly the sort of Chardonnay I’d offer to a friend who swears she’s not a Chardonnay drinker. It would sing alongside Hanukkah latkes.  13% alcohol.”


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