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Bordeaux Blanc, Meet Washington State

DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate White Columbia Valley 2007
Dana Nigro
Posted: March 27, 2009

Sometimes on Friday evenings, after we've finished our work for the week, my colleagues and I will hold an informal blind tasting as a way to both unwind and challenge each other. For our latest round, I pulled out a Washington white I had purchased from the winery's mailing list.

DeLille's Chaleur Estate Blanc is a traditional white Bordeaux blend of 68 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 32 percent Sémillon, in this case from four vineyards in Washington's Columbia Valley. I joined the winery's mailing list for its reds, and this was the first time I'd purchased one of its whites (for $34), so the wine was new to me. Harvey Steiman has rated the previous 10 vintages in the high 80s, and the 2007 vintage in Washington had a near-perfect growing season, so it seemed like a safe bet.

The wine is barrel-fermented in 100 percent new French oak and aged on its lees (dead yeast and grape solids), which contributes to its creamy, smooth texture. It showed ripe apple and pear flavors, seasoned by spicy oak notes. Despite the initial toastiness, it finishes fresh and light, with lingering lemon and grapefruit flavors. "Very quaffable," one of my colleagues commented. You don't need food with it, though it would go well with a range of chicken, medium-weight fish and shellfish dishes, such as scallops. Everyone opted for a full glass after the first taste, and the bottle was polished off pretty quickly. For me, 88 points, non-blind.

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