Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2008 Conner Lee chardonnay

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on May 17, 2010:

We salute ‘Real Men of Genius’ Week with this collection of recently-crowned village idiots. A 33 year-old North Dakota man was arrested for stabbing a tavern owner over refusing to increase the volume of the tavern’s jukebox. Hey, give the guy a break… he only wanted to amp up the headbangin’ tunes of Culture Club. A 34 year-old “adrenaline junkie” crashed a stolen truck in Tukwila after leading police on a chase, then told police he’d rather get high off of stealing cars than using methamphetamine. Don’t fault the moron; after all, he did “Just Say No” to drugs, right? The following is why politicians are classified in the botanical world as “slime”: the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to boycott Arizona “as much as possible” due to its controversial immigration law. Read the fine print: “as much as possible” means the city intends to spend less money in Arizona and condemns the law. Wow. However, what’s not affected is the current contract with an Arizona company that pays the city $106k a month to operate the city’s 29 red-light cameras. Now that’s taking a stand, Seattle-politics style. Asswipes. And hey, speaking of, a “senior wine writer” (sorry, I won’t name you, Paul G.) plans on giving up wine blogging with a farewell speech akin to baseball’s ‘Say Hey’ kid, Willie Mays: “I remember the last month I blogged. I went home to Waitsburg after another uninspired write-up, lay down on my hammock and tears came to my glaucoma-ridden eyes. How can you explain that? You cry because you love blogging mindlessly about all my “friends.”  I cried, I guess, because I loved to write about free wine from those suck-up winemakers and I knew I had to leave it because I’m just too frickin’ old to appeal to the new generation of freeloading so-called wine bloggers.”

One thing I want to make clear, you readers have no clue as to what wines I review simply because… I don’t know either! Tonight’s choice was a prime example. First off, I don’t even know if wine is in my plans for the day. Once a dinner decision is made, then wine comes into play. Tonight’s plate was Buitoni 4-cheese ravioli with Prego Chunky Garden red sauce. Ahhh, you say. An easy selection of a Bourdeaux or Super Tuscan wine. Tefft’s Villarocca? Brian Carter Cellars’ L’Etalon? How about including Columbia’s sangiovese or barbera? Yep, I was on the same track. Then, I peeked in my cooler and I swear, rays of light were shooting out of this bottle of…chardonnay! I pulled it out and scrutinized the label. Oh wait…”Conner Lee Vineyard.” Sold! And, here we are.

A little on what I, and many others, consider this as thee best vineyard in the State for chardonnay. As the top crop for Washington State wine grapes 4 out of the last 5 years (33,400 tons in 2009), this grape can be found in every AVA (including Snipes Mountain) with more variations in flavor than even syrah. Conner Lee Vineyard was planted in the early-1980s by Bill Conner and Rhody Lee and managed by Tom Thorsen and Jerry Bookwalter, and is located on Radar Hill, just south of Othello and slightly past the eastern tip of the Wahluke Slope AVA. The vineyard experiences as much as 50-degree day-night variations, allowing for ideal development of both fruit sugars and acids. Check out my older reviews of Buty’s Conner Lee Vineyard chardonnay and the facts become clear, this is my gold-standard. Not a bad choice. Other wineries put out some great variations by mixing with other vineyards (Abeja, Mark Ryan, JM Cellars) or with other grapes (viognier- Bookwalter Wines). Don’t matter. A great Washington State chardonnay will include Conner Lee Vineyard and that’s as simple as it gets with Washington’s number one grape.

While foodiots decry my semi-homemade version of ravioli (who cares?), I was not expecting really anything to come out of this pairing, but the food-wine pairing was quite harmonious and further, attests to my belief that a full-bodied white wine can indeed be paired with a moderately-flavored and zesty Italian-style pasta with red sauce. Delicioso!

Brilliantly gold-colored on a sunny afternoon, the nose is perfumed with citrus and stone-fruit blossoms in balance. Light syrupy in the mouth, flavors of  pink grapefruit and orange rind lead a soft cascade of Bosc pear, Red Delicious and green apple, nectarine, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe that have the staying power of a Star Wars movie. 294 cases. Drink now – 2014.

Alcohol: 13.8% (tech sheet states 13.5%). Columbia Valley AVA. Conner Lee Vineyard. Harvested on September 17, 2006. 24.1 Brix at harvest. TA 0.662. pH 3.53. Aged 16 months in new and used French oak. Signed bottle from winemaker Kristina Mielke-van Loben Sels. Purchased at Costco Tukwila on April 1, 2010. Candidate for “Deal of the Year.” Rated: 93. Value: $30. Paid: $16. Music pairing: “Stay” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, by Frankie Valli, and by Jackson Browne. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

24hrs post: wow. This wine fell off the roof. Not much left of the carcass. Grapefruit predominant. Don’t save this wine. Drink it all once opened.

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