02 Sep Spotlight: Chardonnay
Chardonnay has an ancient history dating back several centuries and starting in Burgundy, France.The grape is now genetically known to be a cross-breed of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc (a Croatian grape!!!), which arose in Burgundy, France and caught on there and of course spread around the world. Chardonnay has a signature weightiness and creamy flavor, regardless of oak treatment, but this character is exaggerated with oak aging in many parts of the world. Depending on the soil type, temperature, and farming practices, the grape can exhibit varied levels of acidity and nuances characteristic of different regions. Chablis creates mineral-rich Chardonnays with tons of acid, while California is known for creating buttery, rich, heavy Chardonnays with much less acid. This collection represents some of our favorites from around the world.
2015 Nicolas Potel Macon-Villages, Burgundy, France
On Sale $14.99
Here is another winner, this one from esteemed producer Nicolas Potel. Classic mineral, crisp, melon flavors are result of no oak aging.
2015 Dreyer Sonoma Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California
On Sale $12.99
Comprised of grapes from the Carneros and Russian River appellations… barrel fermented and aged for 8 months in oak prior to bottling… golden in color with lovely pear and pineapple aromas, this wine shows ripe fruit combined with its elegant oak influence. It’s versatile as an aperitif, or paired with light meats such as chicken, pork, or fish dishes.
2015 Sheridan Vineyard “Crossfork Creek” Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, Washington
On Sale $15.99
100% Estate Fruit, 100% Chardonnay.
Younger vine, Weste Clone. Deep golden hue with ripe apricot and caramel corn in the nose. Vanilla and citrus oil notes mesh with tangy acidity and sweet oak. Full bodied and dense. A fine effort for this entry level Chardonnay. Barrel fermented for 13 months in 20% new French oak.
2014 Drouhin Chardonnay Estate “Arthur,” Willamette Valley
On Sale $29.99
Pale gold. High-pitched, mineral-accented aromas of tangerine, pear and white flowers carry subtle ginger and anise overtones. Lively and sharply focused in the mouth, offering palate-staining orchard and citrus fruit flavors complicated by a refreshingly bitter quinine nuance and a hint of toasty lees. Finishes with outstanding clarity and stony thrust, leaving floral and citrus pith notes behind.
93 Points, James Suckling
2015 Penfolds Chardonnay Bin 311, Tumbarumba, Australia
On Sale $35.99
A result of a warmer-than-average spring and a cooler-than-average summer in 2015, this has a very compelling array of ripe nectarines, peaches and mangoes on the nose with hints of lemon butter and lime zest as well as bath salts. The oak is assertive but well matched by the fruit intensity. The palate’s framed in fine, fresh acidity, while white-peach and yellow-grapefruit flavors run the distance with smooth build and some gentle honey and praline. This is neatly balanced, cleanly flavored and very attractive. Drink now.
94 Points, James Suckling
2013 Simcic Chardonnay Reserve, Slovenia
On Sale $29.99
The 2013 Chardonnay Opoka Marjan Simčič was aged for 23 months in French oak (90% used). This shows its wood early and often, but mostly in a good way. There is a little tannic pop on the finish, plus plenty of richness together with velvet and a bit of cream for texture. Happily, there is little in the way of vanilla. Overall, this is not a shy Chardonnay that has much finesse or steel, but it does a lot well and I came to like it. It will certainly need a food pairing. Sourced from vines over 40 years old, this comes in at 14% alcohol.
90 Points, The Wine Advocate