More Recently Tasted Chardonnay
Chardonnay is both a grape and a village in France near where it probably was first grown. The name is from
the Latin term meaning, “place of thistles.” It is the number one variety by planted acreage in the United States.
2015 Byron Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 300 cases,
$40. Clones 4 and 95. Barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation and aged in French
oak barrels, 69% new.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of
buttered popcorn, honey, pineapple core and lemon rind. Creamy in the mouth with well-ripened
fruit flavors of yellow apple, pineapple, mango and pear. A bold, rich wine with nicely integrated
acidity and a deft touch of oak. Well crafted in this fruit and oak driven style.
2015 Byron Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.4% alc., 400 cases, $40.
Primarily Wente clone from cuttings obtained from the original Wente clone planted on the estate
in 1964. Barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation and aged in French oak barrels,
Moderately dark golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of citrus peel, yellow
grapefruit and ripe apple lead to a discretely rich styled wine with ripe flavors of pineapple, lemon
and yellow peach underlain with complimentary oak. A good cut of acidity maintains a refreshing
2015 Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.0% alc., $45.
yellow color in the glass. Aromas of ripe apple, pear, mango, custard and cold steel. Nicely composed with
seamless balance, offering flavors of spiced apple, citrus, juniper berry, honey and baked bread. Easy going,
with a silky texture and a crisp finish.
2016 Kessler-Haak Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.6% alc., 360 cases, $35. Vintner grown
clones 95 and 76.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing scents of sea
breeze, lemon-lime, and buttered toast. Moderately rich, yet clean and refreshing, with flavors of
lemon, pineapple and white peach. Slightly oily in mouthfeel with a vibrant personality.
2016 MacRostie Winery & Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.3% alc., 18,227 cases, $25, screwcap.
Sourced from multiple distinguished vineyards in the
Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Russian River Valley and
Petaluma Gap. 85% of the juice was racked into French
oak barrels for fermentation, 20% new. 15% of the juice
stayed in stainless steel tanks and never went to barrel.
The wines were aged on the lees for 6 months both in tank and barrel,
with occasional stirring.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. This is a
very classy and comforting wine, featuring aromas and flavors of
lemon, white peach, baking spices and a hint of toast. Good on the
attack with a pleasingly smoothing texture, finishing on a lemony high
note. Very harmonious and easy to like. Impressive quality considering
such a large production and modest pricing.
2016 Morgado Cellars Steiner Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay
14.2% alc., $62.
yellow color in the glass. Complex nose offering aromas of haystack, graphite, lemon, peach, spice, shortbread
and nutty oak. A rich and boldly styled wine with some heaviness. Creamy on the palate, with flavors of lemon,
ripe pineapple, apple, caramel and toast. The texture is really quite dreamy, but there is a sense of alcohol on
the nose and finish.
2015 Open Claim Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., $75, DIAM closure. Sold in three bottle
allocations. Winemaker Tony Rynders.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose is infused
with citrus and oak driven aromas of honey on toast, shortbread and vanilla creme. Nuanced aromas of floral
blossom, dried grass and wax add interest. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with heady flavors of lemon,
grapefruit, white peach and banana, with oak compliments. Nicely integrated acidity, with some finishing length.
2015 Paul Hobbs Richard Dinner Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay
14.1% alc., $80.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very appealing aromas of crystallized lemon, white
peach, brioche and a subtle spice and floral note. Some richness in the mouth but not heavy, with flavors of
lemon, peach and pineapple underlain with a friendly bit of toasty oak. Agreeably creamy in the
mouth, submerged acidity yet lively enough, offering some length
on the very satisfying, lemon-fueled finish.
2014 Sweetzer Cellars Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.73, 250
cases, $28. Vines planted in 2007. Clones 4, 76, 95 and 96. Native and proprietary yeasts.
Fermented 60% stainless steel and 40% neutral oak. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25%
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of kiwi, grapefruit and wax with some
unusual whiffs. Flavors of lemon and créme brûlèe in a crisp, tightly wound style with only a hint of
2014 Sweetzer Cellars Presqu’ile Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.4% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.75,
137 cases, $40. A barrel selection. Clones 4, 76, 95 and 96. Fermented in 60% stainless and 40% neutral oak.
Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Scents of
butter, yellow nectarine, wax and toasty oak entice. More concentration and length in the mouth than the Santa
Maria Valley bottling with valued flavors of lemon, honey and toasty oak. The acidity is also better integrated in
2016 Trader Joe’s Lot #87 Grand Reserve Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.8% alc., $12.99. Vinted and
bottled by AVID Winery, Sebastopol.
Pale golden yellow color in the glass. Up front aromas of butter, lemon
and pineapple. Light in weight with good acidity, featuring flavors of citrus, apple, nuts and caramel. Bright and
lively with a silky texture and integrated alcohol. This wine will attract Chardonnay fans at this price.
2015 Wildberry Estate Reserve Margaret River Australia Chardonnay
13.0% alc., $30, screwcap.
Imported by Southern Starz, Inc., Huntington Beach, CA.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass.
Flinty reduction on the nose with added aromas of pear, lemon-lime and seaweed. Crisp and bright in the
mouth, with flavors of lemon custard and pear fruits with a flinty (mercaptan) bearing. The bright citrus-imbued
acidity drives the wine’s vibrancy and the lemony finish. Your enjoyment of this wine will depend on your
attraction to volatile sulfur compounds in Chardonnay.