Chardonnays from the New World are great examples of varietal bottlings (wines made primarily from a single grape variety that usually displays the name of that variety on the label). The grape, which originated in Burgundy, France, is green-skinned and neutrally flavored, which allows specific terroir and winemaking techniques to make their marks on color, aroma, and taste. Vinified in many different styles, it is now grown wherever wine is produced and is an important component of many sparklers including Champagne.
Chardonnay is one of the most widely-planted varieties in the world, with over 160,000 hectares (400,000 acres) currently under vine, and is now grown in more wine regions than any other grape. It is very malleable and such diversity equals a profile for every palate, which in turn means that you should try some of these excellent white wines.
Today’s notes were gathered from recent samples and at industry gatherings and mostly concern California offerings. I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish. If I can find a domestic retail price then I list it (if there is more than one I err on the higher side), with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.
PRE-CHAMPAGNE AND BURGUNDY TOUR GET-TOGETHER AT PHILADELPHIA’S R2L RESTAURANT WITH CHEF/OWNER DANIEL STERN AND PHILLY WINE WRITER BRIAN FREEDMAN – MARCH 18, 2015, STARTING AT 6:30 P.M.
Ben will be in Philadelphia in mid-March for a Champagne and Burgundy pre-tour get-together for potential clients with his old friends Daniel Stern (of legendary R2L Restaurant) and Brian Freedman (@wineupdate). Click Here r2lrestaurant.com/ for dinner reservations (or call (215) 564-5337), and if you’re interested in coming along with Dan, Brian, and Ben on a behind-the-scenes, wine-focused tour of Champagne and Burgundy (October 4-11, 2015), or if you just want more information about the tour, Click Here www.wineontheroad.com/champ-burgwithR2L.php.
MADRID AND RIOJA, SPAIN, WITH 1WINEDUDE’S JOE ROBERTS – NOVEMBER 1 – 8, 2015
Another fun consumer tour we’re planning involves legendary wine blogger, writer, and lecturer Joe Roberts (the 1WineDude) and Ben leading a group to Madrid and Rioja, Spain (November 1-8, 2015). If you’d like more information about this tour please Click Here www.wineontheroad.com/spainwith1winedude.php.
BEN WILL BE IN ITALY CHECKING OUT FLORENCE, ROME, ASSISI, MILAN, AND TURIN – MARCH 21 – APRIL 2, 2015
Ben has been invited to tour luxury villas in Florence, Rome, and Perugia, Italy at the end of March. Follow along with him on Twitter (@WineOnTheRoad), Facebook (Wine On The Road), LinkedIn (Benjamin Weinberg) and Foursquare (Ben Weinberg).
BEN’S WINE COUNTRY PICTURES ARE NOW FOR SALE
Have you ever read one of Ben’s columns and wondered how it would look to have one of his incredibly vivid, high resolution pictures of wine country framed on your wall? We’re now offering various size prints of his quirky photography at Pixels.com, where you can also add his images to smartphone cases, greeting cards, and many other items. Pictures can be ordered loose or matted and framed in various sizes. Click Here pixels.com/art/all/benjamin+weinberg/all to take a peek.
UPCOMING TOURS WITH WINE ON THE ROAD:
CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE, WITH CORRIDOR 44’S MANAGING PARTNER BRIAN SIFFERMANN AND GENERAL MANAGER JEFF DAVIS: SEPTEMBER 27 – OCTOBER 4, 2015
CHAMPAGNE AND BURGUNDY, FRANCE, WITH R2L RESTAURANT’S DANIEL STERN AND PHILADELPHIA-AREA WINE WRITER BRIAN FREEDMAN: OCTOBER 4 – OCTOBER 11, 2015
PORTLAND AND THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY WITH TABLE 6’S CHIEF BOTTLE WASHER AARON FORMAN AND EVAN WILLIAMS: OCTOBER 16-20, 2015
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA, WITH WINE OH TV’S FOUNDER AND HOST MONIQUE SOLTANI: OCTOBER 23 – OCTOBER 27, 2015
MADRID AND RIOJA, SPAIN, WITH 1WINEDUDE’S JOE ROBERTS: NOVEMBER 1 – NOVEMBER 8, 2015
WINE ON THE ROAD’S LUXURIOUS, BEHIND-THE-SCENES WINE TOURS
With Wine On The Road (www.wineontheroad.com), my wine-focused touring company, you can enjoy the ultimate wine country excursion with special access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines. Wine On The Road offers intimate wine country tours that combine award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor. We lodge at excellent and luxurious wine country estates (in the past we’ve occupied ancient yet completely restored castles as well as five-star resorts, all with modern amenities). We eat at amazing local restaurants and visit wineries that embody the best, most authentic expressions of local wine grapes.
You can learn more about these trips, book private groups in wine country world-wide and request more information on any of these extraordinary travel experiences by visiting www.wineontheroad.com, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling me at 303-522-6738.
Villa Maria Chardonnay Private Bin Unoaked 2013 (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand) $16
Greenish yellow/smooth, spicy apricot/flint, crisp citrus, apple/himod
Columbia Winery Chardonnay 2013 (Columbia Valley, Washington) $14
Pale yellow/green pear, apple, pineapple/sweet lemon, vanilla, cinnamon/hilong
Buried Cane Chardonnay 2013 (Columbia Valley, Washington) $14
Bright yellow/golden pear, lime/quince, hazelnut, lemon cream/medlong
Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 (Central Coast, California) $15
Light yellow/quince, pineapple, white peach/apricot, cardamom, vanilla/himod
Bridlewood Chardonnay 2012 (Monterey County, California) $15
Bright yellow/guava, papaya/honey, caramel, yellow apple/himod
Wente Chardonnay Riva Ranch Arroyo Seco 2013 (Monterey County, California) $22
Medium yellow/yellow apple, pear/pineapple, apricot/medmod
Wente Chardonnay Morning Fog 2013 (Livermore Valley, California) $15
Light yellow/green apple, papaya/yellow apple, smoke, toasted bread/medmod
Inconceivable Chardonnay Queen of Tides 2013 (Santa Maria Valley, California) $25
Bright yellow/aggressive cinnamon, pineapple, flint/briny pear, ginger, honey/hilong
Flora Springs Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $35
Pea yellow/red apple, green pear/honey, white flowers, cigar box/himod
William Hill Estate Chardonnay 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $27
Greenish yellow/baked apple, brioche, apricot/salty peach, caramel/hilong
O’Shaughnessy Chardonnay Oakville 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $55
Full yellow/bitter almond, green pear/tangerine, cream soda/medlong
Arrowood Chardonnay 2013 (Sonoma County) $25
Bright yellow/Meyer lemon, yellow apple/cinnamon, red peach/hilong
Frei Brothers Chardonnay Reserve RRV 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $20
Gold yellow/green apple, baked pear/butter, almond, smoke/hilong
Hanna Chardonnay RRV 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $25
Gold/baked apple, brioche, allspice/yellow apple, caramel, citrus/himod
MacMurray Estate Vineyards Chardonnay RRV 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $20
Pea yellow/Meyer lemon, crème brulee, green pear, yellow apple, vanilla/hilong
Amapola Creek Chardonnay RRV 2012 (Sonoma County, California) $45
Straw yellow/yellow pear, honeysuckle/lime zest, jasmine, butterscotch/hilong
Trione Chardonnay River Road Ranch RRV 2012 (Sonoma County, California) $32
Muted yellow/honey, baked red apple/brioche, orange zest, five spice powder/hilong
J Chardonnay RRV 2014 (Sonoma County, California) $28
Bright yellow/pineapple, lemon, cardamom/yellow pear, kiwi, red peach/hilong
Fog Crest Chardonnay RRV 2011 (Sonoma County, California) $39
Gold/honey, peach nectar/star fruit, ginger/hilong
Fog Crest Chardonnay Elevage RRV 2010 (Sonoma County, California) $45
Gold/apricot, sarsaparilla/orange peel, honey/hilong
La Rochelle Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Morelli Lane RRV 2011 (Sonoma County, California) $45
Gold/brown butter, red peach/white flowers, burnt honey/hilong