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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Night, Cap

I don’t promote wines I don’t like, and often times certain wines from certain regions just don’t work well, in spite of wineries planting the same tired grape over and over, thereby creating a tedious version of something you can get better elsewhere. All that to say the Chardonnays from the Sierra Foothills have been lackluster. It just isn’t the best spot to grow it. So imagine my double take when I tried the 2012 Lava Cap Winery Chardonnay. I was not prepared for what I had just tasted. Sure, Chardonnay is ubiquitous, but at $18 this has terrific acidity and the new French Oak is all caramel, and a subtle smoky element with a touch of citrus. They perform a battonage on it – meaning after the yeast converts the sugars to alcohol, the tiny dead yeast cells are stirred up inside the wine barrel, which adds additional flavor and texture to a wine. At 14.6 this Chardonnay is a big boy, but it does not drink that way and frankly I’d take this over more expensive Chards from Sonoma in a heartbeat. I love the mouth feel on this and the slight bite at the end. 
I hold in my hand...the lava cap!
Lava Cap Winery has been in the Foothills, near to Placerville, for a quarter century and is one of the leaders in the wine industry in this underappreciated region (hint: Forgo Napa and drive to the Foothills, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras counties - 40 minutes east of Sacramento). Their winery name refers to the actual cap of old, thick lava that permeates parts of the lower Sierra Nevada Mountains. And that cap has created some pretty cool growing conditions in terms of unique soils of volcanic clay mixed with minerals. The bottom line? Chard from this region does not excel, but this Chardonnay does and it will surprise you. Worth every penny, go find it. LAVA CAP WINERY
2012 Lava Cap Winery Chardonnay
ORIGIN: El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills, California
PRICE: $18 - 750/ml
ALCOHOL: 14.6%

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