Chardonnay is planted widely around the world. It’s sometimes called the chameleon grape given its propensity to display characteristics that reflect the particular climate and region where it’s grown. It can be coy or bold in personality and run the gamut stylistically from rich and creamy to lean and lithe. Hone your palate by tasting a variety of styles and experiment with food parings too to discover the many aspects of Chardonnay.
Here are capsule reviews of some Chardonnay’s you may find along the Wine Road.
The 2019 Baldassari Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast opens with an array of aromas from bright to savory with notes of citrus, apple, melon, butterscotch and hazelnut. It’s juicy and creamy on the palate with delicate buttery top note and a tropical fruit through line of intense flavor that carries it to a satisfying finish. This classic wine aches for a simple yet classic snack—pop up a big bowl of popcorn and season with truffle salt.
The 2021 Cast Ghianda Rose Vineyard, Chardonnay from Mendocino offers a frisson of flavor with a distinct zing that makes me think of Chenin. The lovely light nose is full of cucumber, lemon zest, and melon. On the palate it’s juicy with ripe peach, crisp apple, pineapple, white nectarine and a savory note of hazelnut. Balanced and bright, it has a long creamy finish with a pop of red grapefruit and lemon zest that persists to the end. Try this with spicy beef or chicken empanadas.
ABV 13.5 %
An earthly delight, the 2020 Dutton Estate Warrens Collection Chardonnay from Russian River Valley is complex and delicious. On the nose, aromas of melon, mango, yellow apple and a grounding note of coriander. The palate is creamy and pert with luscious caramelized pineapple, lemon zest, white peach, and a trace of salty almond. A long seamless finish deepens with each sip. Pair with a classic roast chicken and extra cheesy potatoes au gratin.
Inhale deeply from the Ektimo 2018 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley for a rush of scents from lemon curd, grapefruit, and apricot to an exciting floral bouquet comprised of citrus and apple blossoms. On the palate a pleasing blend of apple white nectarine, almond brittle and a creamy finish with notes of pear and honeydew melon. Great overall balance and lift of flavor. Pair with something elegant, rich and savory, like poached salmon with hollandaise.
The Meeker Vineyard 2021 Gamboge Chardonnay from the North Coast, is best described as full of moxie and style. The wine presents with an energetic mix of flavors and aromas that is nothing short of thrilling. On the nose, persimmon, chalk, buttery croissant, honey almond and gooseberry. The palate is rich with notes of peach, nectarine and almond butter which gives the mid palate a pleasing weight and presence. The long tangy finish has an endnote of cedar and crushed rocks. It sounds like a there’s a lot going from this tasting note, but it’s truly a harmonic convergence of flavor and nuance. Pair chicken enchiladas.
The Pedroncelli Signature Selection, 2021 Chardonnay, from Dry Creek Valley is light and balanced and thoroughly enjoyable. On the nose, tropical notes of banana, coconut, cream, and peaches with a touch of sweet pineapple. The juicy palate has both bright and plush aspects– creamsicle like, with notes of peach, ginger, chalk and a note that hovers at mid-palate which is reminiscent of coconut cream pie. The finish is crisp, clean, tangy and ultimately quenching. Pair with charcuterie board of meats and cheeses along with good crusty bread, and invite some good friends over to enjoy it all.
This 2019 Sonoma Jones Chardonnay from Russian River Valley is a second label entry from Viszlay Vineyards that pays homage to the Jones side of the family. It has pleasing rich aromas of creamy peach, Asian pear and toasty brioche. On the palate it’s lifted and bright with notes of grapefruit and lemon curd and crème brulee. As it opens and warms in the glass, it reveals a distinct note of caramelized peanuts that reminded me of an exotic old school treat called French Burnt Peanuts, crunchy red clusters of buttery delight! Balanced and easy drinking, pair with a spicy chicken jambalaya.
This 2019 Woodenhead Chardonnay from Piper Ranch, Manchester Ridge in Mendocino is best described as Rubenesque —plump, carnal, fleshy and full of light.
A gorgeous scent fills the glass with notes of ambrosia that includes coconut, melon, banana, mandarin and a whiff of butterscotch. On the palate, full lush flavors of lemon curd, white peach, guava, vanilla, and caramel flan. Deeply delicious it’s a captivating foray into what a site specific Chardonnay can deliver. Pair with Psychic Pie inspired mushroom, goat cheese, lemon pizza.