Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay and Farro “Risotto”

Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay

Chardonnay from the oldest new (or newest old?) winery in the Willamette Valley

Knudsen Vineyards – Dundee Hills Pioneers
I think of Knudsen Vineyards as the oldest new winery in the Willamette Valley. Way back in 1971 Cal and Julia Lee Knudsen purchased a 200 acre ex-walnut orchard and they initially planted 30 acres of their land to a vineyard of pinot noir grapes. They formed a partnership with neighbor Dick Erath and started producing Knudsen Erath wines. That partnership ended in 1987, also ending Knudsen’s years as winemakers, but not as grape growers. Knudsen vineyard grapes were highly prized and formed major elements of Argyle wines, both sparkling and still since 1987, and they continue to do so today.

In 2009, Cal Knudsen passed away.  His four adult children decided they needed to not only continue the legacy, but to return to winemaking under the Knudsen Vineyards label. They re-entered the marketplace in 2014 with their 2012 estate Pinot Noir. Then, they followed in 2015 with release of their first Chardonnay from the 2013 vintage.

Today, Knudsen Vineyards property encompasses a total of 228 acres. Approximately 130 acres are planted to chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. The vineyard and property are LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified and salmon safe. This combination is one of the most strict sustainable standards in use today. The certification includes both vineyard and winery practices. Different from organic and biodynamic certification, LIVE works to reduce environmental impact, and also (importantly) includes worker health and safety.

Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay

The Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay was a beautifully balanced oaked Chardonnay.

Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay – from the Winery
“The Knudsen Vineyards 2016 Chardonnay blends estate grown fruit from two blocks on the southern half of our vineyard – higher density, flavorful Block 9, planted in 1995 to the French Dijon clones 95 and 76, grown at elevations between 710-760 feet – and higher density, balanced, micro-scale Block 10, planted in 1995 to the French Dijon clone 76, grown at slightly lower elevations between 655-690 feet. The wine was aged 25% in new French oak and aged 11 months in barrel before bottling.”

Appellation: Dundee Hills
Soil: Jory – red volcanic: drains well during winter; holds water during summer heat.
Alcohol: 13.5%
pH: 3.30
Oak: French, 25% New; 11 months in barrel
TA: 6.8 g/L
Cases: 320

Knudsen Vineyards Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2016 (winery sample, $45 SRP from the winery or online here)
Eye: Clear, medium lemon
Nose: Clean, bright and fresh medium intensity. Oak notes are present but well controlled. Citrus: lemons and fresh ripe pineapple. Floral notes with white flowers, reminds me of gardenia
Mouth: Dry, medium+ flavor intensity. Medium+ acidity, medium body with a balance between a creamy texture lifted by the bright acidity. Just a touch of that buttered popcorn in the medium+ finish. Overall, a very enjoyable Chardonnay, lively acidity, beautiful with food.  Easy to drink now, but would cellar well for at least 5 years. Very nice!

Disclosure:  I received the wine as a sample. All opinions are mine.

Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay paired with seared scallops with farro "risotto"

Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay was a delicious partner to our scallops with farro “risotto”

Seared Scallops, Farro Risotto and Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay
We love seared scallops and risotto, definitely a comfort meal for Friday evenings at our house. Scallops are a treat and are so easy to prepare in a cast iron skillet. I like to keep the other ingredients simple when I make risotto as it requires a bit of attention, although I can still manage a glass of wine as I stir!  This was my first experience with making Farro in the style of risotto, and it was a nice alternative.  I used a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network website here.  My only comments on the recipe are that I used pearled farro and homemade chicken broth. Also, I was out of shallots, so I used scallions as a close substitute.

So many oaked chardonnays go a bit too heavy on the oak for my taste, but the Knudsen Vineyards chardonnay had just the right touch, not too much.  The rich seared scallops and creamy “farrotto” were definitely a nice match to the body in the wine, and the wine had plenty of lively acidity to cleanse the palate. All in all, a delicious pairing and one we’ll repeat in the future.

Do you make risotto at home? What’s your favorite version, and what’s your favorite wine pairing?

4 Responses to “Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay and Farro “Risotto””
  1. Amber says:

    I love the substitution of Faro for Risotto, but how did you prepare it? Great post and photos.

  2. Lynn says:

    Love this pairing and your description of the wine. While I can’t purchase a bottle here (unfortunately) I’ll seek it out next time on US soil. In the meantime, that risotto rocks!

  3. Jill Barth says:

    I’m thinking dinner tonight!

  4. This looks awesome! Lovely blog you have :))

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