Hamacher Wines ‘H Series’ Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2015

Medium gold color; pear, white flowers, nutmeg on the nose; pear, white peach, honeydew melon, lemon zest, spice on the palate.

Hamacher Wines ‘H Series’ Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2015

Dry; excellent acidity (3.45 pH) and nicely integrated oak—18 months in French oak, 20% new. Medium body, pleasing texture in the mouth. There is a hint of honey on the mid-palate, followed by lemon zest on the extended finish, an interesting juxtaposition; 13.5% ABV.

“H” wines are the second label for Hamacher Wines. The juice gets the same treatment as all Hamacher wines but when it proves to not improve the primary blend, wine is “declassified” and bottled as “H”. That means you get some good wine for a cheaper price than the higher end “Hamacher” labeled chardonnays.

Eric Hamacher started out on a career path to become a doctor but switched to making wine after working a wine harvest. He attended University of California Davis and earned a degree in viticulture and enology in 1988. Over the next seven years he gained experience at various wineries including Mondavi, Chalone and Etude and finally ended up in Oregon in 1995.

Founder and winemaker Eric Hamacher at work

With his wife, Luisa Ponzi, he started the 2000 case winery, Hamacher Wines, in 1995. Eric was the driving force behind the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, a “green” LEED registered cooperative winemaking facility that opened in 2002 and is now home to as many as twelve different wineries—Eric and Luisa spent several years lobbying to change the Oregon law that prohibited multiple winery licensing in one facility. The 15,000-square-foot gravity flow winery is a partnership between Eric and his wife Luisa Ponzi, winemaker at Ponzi Vineyards, and Ned and Kirsten Lumpkin of Lumpkin Construction in Seattle and Lazy River Vineyard in Yamhill, Oregon.

Hamacher Wines produces about 2,000 cases a year, the Hamacher website boasts: “possible Oregon’s slowest growing winery!” He also is the winemaker for Ghost Hill Cellars and is a consulting winemaker for several other brands. The website claims: “With his focus and dedication to old vines and small lots and due to his uncompromising commitment to quality, Eric Hamacher has become one of the most respected and sought-after wine producers in the region.”

Luisa Ponzi is a major story in her own right. Daughter of Willamette Valley wine pioneers Dick and Nancy Ponzi, Luisa is an example of how women are now some of the premier winemakers in the world. Luisa is more than a giant in Oregon winemaking, she is force in the entire wine world. She and her sister, Maria (director of sales and marketing) became the owners and operators of Ponzi in 2012, making Ponzi one of America’s few sister-run wineries. May the sisterhood of wine continue to increase. Eric and Louisa have four children.

Hamacher Wines ‘H Series’ Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2015 is Burgundian-style chard from a top Oregon maker. It is the opposite of a oaky-buttery California commodity chard. With its precise fruit and superb acidity, it is built to be a great food wine. It has a sharper, flintier, more precise edge than many chards, so be warned this is serious chardonnay that may not appeal to every palate, especially ones that enjoy sweeter, fruitier, oaky iterations. Pair with pork; salmon; tuna; vegetarian meals; roasted chicken; Asian dishes that include coconut milk. $25

Hamacher Wines website

Hamacher Wines vineyard
Hamacher harvest
Hamacher and Ponzi winemaker-owner Luisa Ponzi