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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Big Ass Chardonnay's

Chardonnay is one of those grapes it’s popular to hate.

Yet Chard is also the most widely planted grape in sunny California. Wine writers and sommeliers (some of whom are my friends) keep bashing Chard and the old ABC movement (Anything But Chardonnay) from years back is still alive and well. It’s a bitch being in demand. 
The Wine Institute of California based in San Francisco says this: Chardonnay is California’s most widely planted winegrape, with 95,074 acres reported in 2012. Chardonnay far and away remains the most popular wine in the U.S. and has continued to be the leading varietal wine for the last decade, with sales increases every year.

People keep buying it so somebody is loving it. What many people hate is the big oak and butter bomb. There has been a move recently to produce more stainless steel fermented Chard – avoiding oak - and that’s a great idea too. The point is, there’s a place for all types of Chardonnay on your table and a brief pause amidst the hype reveals something remarkable: “Chardonnay makes a more diverse portfolio of wine styles than any other variety in the world,” Richie Allen, Rombauer’s winemaker told me recently. “You have everything from blanc de blanc Champagne, barrel fermented, stainless steel, and dessert wine.” And Mr. Allen is correct. So I happily present two versions – yes they are big ass wines, and no apologies are necessary – a lot of people still adore this style and they are damn tasty.

Rombauer 2013 Carneros Chardonnay ($36) is the quintessential oak and butter bomb. Vanilla, citrus, sour cream, lemon curd and lots of buttery goodness overflow in this wine. There is a huge market for this style and they sellout of their 65,000 cases each and every year. It retains a nice acidity is easy to drink and has a velvety viscosity in the mouth. 14.6% alcohol. ROMBAUER

Landmark 2012 Overlook Chardonnay ($23)
Sourcing fruit from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara, this offers a little less oak but more vanilla, acidity and a tangy citrus, almost pineapple note, as Monterey and Santa Barbara fruit are prone to do. But make no mistake, aged 10 months in 100% French oak – it’s definitely a caramel and butter bruiser. 14.3% alcohol. LANDMARK

Other Chardonnay's to Consider: LAVA CAP, DOLIN

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