I am a Chardonnay fan. I drink it when it is hot outside or cold outside, with food or on its own. Sometimes I prefer the heavy, fully malolactic fermented Chard, sometimes one that isn’t quite so robust and a little lighter and cleaner. Luckily, looking all over the world, you can find any type pretty easily. Here are a few favorites I have been enjoying lately, some selections were sent for editorial consideration.
Sbragia 2007 Home Ranch Chardonnay – From the Sbragia family ranch on the east side of Dry Creek in Sonoma County, that has been a part of the family for several decades, this Chardonnay benefits from the cool temperatures of the vineyard creating a wine filled with bright fruit flavors of crisp pear, Golden Delicious apple and tropical fruit with balanced citrus notes and a clean finish. A great wine to start a night with.
2009 Heston Chardonnay – From the southern tip of Highway 29 in Napa Valley this is the first Chardonnay produced for Heston Vineyards by acclaimed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown (best known for his 100 point rating for his Schrader Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon) who joined Heston in 2009 to focus on the Heston Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon production. Elegant and concentrated with round flavors of ripe apricot, peach and honey with a creamy, toasty finish with great balance.
Landmark 2009 Overlook Chardonnay – The signature wine from this Sonoma winery, blending 18 Chardonnay vineyards throughout Sonoma County together to create a vibrant Chardonnay filled with Granny Smith apple, lime zest and spice with just a hint of pineapple and mango on the end.
Miner 2007 Wild Yeast Chardonnay – This is my go to wine when I am looking for a full bodied, well rounded and luscious Chardonnay. Creamy notes with ripe stone fruit, layered with spice and just the right balance of citrus. A delicious wine with food or on its own, and (to my great delight) on sale at Sigel’s right now through the end of the year. The normal $44 bottle is on sale for $36.99.
Mer Soleil Silver – I stopped by Caymus Vineyards when I was in Napa to taste through their portfolio and had a chance to try wine that was new to me, the Mer Soleil Silver. I had had the traditional Mer Soleil many times, filled with lots of honey, butter and baked apple; the Silver was a delightful surprise. Clean and refined, this unoaked Chardonnay from Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards reminded me of a crisp, mineral driven Chablis with balanced acidity, bright fruit flavors of grapefruit, lemon and Granny Smith apple.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2009 Karia Chardonnay – From the Greek word meaning graceful, this exceptional Chardonnay embraces its name with refined flavors of baked apple, dried apricot and pear with floral notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle. A nicely layered wine with good mouth-feel and a lingering finish.
Napa Cellars 2009 Mount Veeder Chardonnay – I was a little surprised to try a Chardonnay from Mount Veeder recently, mainly because Mount Veeder Cabernet fruit is so delicious and sought after that I was surprised Chardonnay would be planted there, however this wine proves it is great land for showcasing the varietal. Aromas of honey, golden apple, and a touch of creme brulee escape from the glass, followed by baked apple, sweet spice and caramel flavors. A delicious, lush wine.
Terrazas de los Andes 2010 Reserva Chardonnay – I like Argentine Chardonnay, it tends to have good acidity and clean, bright flavors. This one, from the French Moet & Chandon winery who established Terrazas, is filled with tropical fruit like pineapple, guava and mango with lemon peel and ripe peach on the finish.
Who knew so many good wines were being made in Mexico? Perhaps Mexico is better known for their tequila production than their wine production, but I have been trying a lot of wine recently from Mexico, and have been enjoying it. Modern-day Mexico was actually the first area to produce wine in North America, with Spaniards bringing vines over from Europe in the 16th Century. Today most of the wine in Mexico is produced in the Baja California area. One of these wineries, L.A. Cetto, started making wine in Tijuana in the 1920’s, becoming quite popular with Americans during prohibition when wine in the US was hard to find. Their award-winning wines can now be found throughout the world. Their 2009 Chardonnay, from the Guadalupe Valley, is filled with crisp apple, orange zest and lemon with touches of vanilla making this a delicious wine to pair with baked white fish or roasted chicken.