Saturday, January 5, 2013

Blind Tasting Oregon and California Chardonnays

After having so much fun blind tasting my way through a bunch of Oregon and California pinot noirs, it was time to hit up the chardonnays. Thanks to my friends at the daily wine blog Terroirist, I received a bunch of sample bottles from California and Oregon. When I tasted through them, I knew they were domestic chardonnays, but I didn’t know the producer, region, vintage, etc. After tasting the wines, I tried my best to track down the average price and research a bit more about the wines and how they were made.

Overall, I was really excited about this lot of chardonnays. Gone are the days when all domestic chardonnays tasted like the same buttered oak staves. As this tasting proved, there is a huge diversity of styles when it comes to domestic chardonnays. Sure there was some oak, some butter, some popcorn, but many of the wines showed great restraint and balance. Cheers to chardonnay!

2009 Stoller Chardonnay SV Estate - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
Exotic aromas of pineapple, butter and hints of honey. Surprising acid kicks off the palate. There’s a really unique combination of rich apricot flavors and lemon peel and minerals. Creamy, but not heavy. Zesty, but not light. (87 points) $30

2010 Stoller Chardonnay Reserve - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
On the nose, aromas of pear and apple mingle with smoky minerals. I really like the mouthfeel, very silky, nice balance between acid and density. Green apple and pear flavors blend well with the creamy hazelnut aspect. There’s a nice mix of mineral and caramel on the finish.
(89 points) $28

2010 Adelsheim Chardonnay Stoller Vineyard - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Pretty light gold color. Lively and fresh on the nose, lots of flowers and lime (dare I say almost Chablis-like?), along with some honeydew melon. Very enticing on the nose. The palate shows a buttery texture, but there’s a huge amount of acid that keeps it balanced. I’m really impressed with the purity of the citrus and green apple flavors. There’s a lot of complexity and overall verve to this wine. It seems like it would be a lot of fun in another five years, but it's rocking now. (91 points) Price unknown

2009 Chehalem Chardonnay Ian's Reserve Stoller Vineyard - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Very bright on the nose, with ripe peach, lime and fresh flowers. Zesty on the palate, but at the same time it shows generous creaminess and density. There’s a real sense of purity to the lemon and white peach flavors. Margarita salt carries the finish. This wine blends ripe fruit with bright acid and minerals in a focused and precise fashion. Delicious. Aged 7 months in French oak, 35% new.
(90 points) $32

2010 Cornerstone Cellars Chardonnay Willamette Valley - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Light gold. Pears, golden apple and a hint of lime on the nose. Creamy mouthfeel, showing rich texture and generous flavors of yellow and green apples. Toast, hazelnut and butter flavors add complexity but remain secondary. This shows a lot of intensity and depth. Aged 16 months in French oak, of which 24% was new.(90 points) $35

2010 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
The aromas are really bright and fresh, with an almost sauvignon blanc-like combination of lime, grapefruit and a hint of herbs. Very tangy on the palate, with lime and papaya flavors. Even a hint of mineral. This is really a brisk and fresh style, and I was surprised to see it was Russian River fruit. Lean and zesty, but by no means simple. Winemaker Rob Davis describes the 2010 chardonnay in this video. (88 points) $31

2011 Inman Family Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Aromas of white flowers, lemon and pineapple. Cream and butter combine with green apple and lemon fruit. It maintains freshness the entire time. Brisk and pure, and no wonder: the alcohol is listed only as 12.6%. (88 points) $32

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Carneros - California, Napa, Carneros
Very ripe on the nose, with pear, mango and hints of honey. Plush texture combines with medium acid. This chardonnay is generous on the pineapple and cantaloupe flavors, with butterscotch and coconut accents. (85 points) $21

It was no Tasting of Paris, but the  Chateau
Montelena chardonnay won the blind tasting.
2010 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay - California, Napa Valley
Bright golden color. Very vibrant and floral on the nose, showing lots of orange blossom and honeysuckle aromas. High acid paves the way for the rich nectarine and pear flavors. There's a well-placed touch of hazelnut and toast, but there’s also a solid dose of minerals and lime, which gives this wine real verve. The density on the palate is impressive and the finish is really long. From nose to finish, a stunning chardonnay. (92 points) $45

2010 Gainey Chardonnay - California, Central Coast, Santa Rita Hills
Medium gold colored. Layered aromas of pineapple, honey butter and toffee. Shows its boldness right away with golden pears, lemon candy and orange marmalade. Medium acid provides some balance and the plush texture makes it a pleasure to drink. Flavors of buttered rum, coconut and toast linger on the long, dense finish. Stylistically, this is big and bold, but very tasty. (87 points) $18

2010 Hahn Estates Chardonnay SLH Estate Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Light golden color. Very bright on the nose, with white flowers and green apples, but aromas of butter and orange peel linger underneath. Viscous on the palate, with and oily texture. Gobs of pears and pineapple evolve into a mix of toast and ruby red grapefruit. The combination of factors makes for a really fun wine. The fruit comes primarily from the 156-acre Lone Oak Vineyard and 33% of the juice is aged in new French oak. (88 points) $25

2011 Pepi Chardonnay - California
Straightforward aromas of lemon, grapefruit and green apple. The palate is full-bodied with medium acid, showing grapefruit and lime mixed with apricot and dried pineapple. No detectable oak. Not very deep or complex, but it’s balanced out quite nicely. This wine seems to be part of a new marketing gimmick and I could only find minimal information about it(84 points) $10

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve - California, Napa, Carneros
Bright gold colored. It’s clear from the nose that this is an elegant and ageworthy chardonnay. The aromas shift with air, showing white flowers, dried mango and pineapple, orange blossom. There’s a brightness to the aromas that is fantastic. The palate starts off with pineapple and papaya flavors and a dense mouthfeel. The acid comes through on the midpalate. The hazelnut and coconut element of this wine are really interesting. I can’t remember a wine that tasted more like coconut milk than this wine. And I really like it. Very complex and delicious, although I’m wagering this could age for a few more years and really improve, as it’s quite compact right now. (90 points) $40

2011 Bonterra Vineyards Chardonnay - California, North Coast, Mendocino County
Smells like Hawaii, with pineapple, mango and papaya. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied with rich melon and pineapple fruit. There's a flavor that reminds me of a coconut macaroon, and I like it. Big and bold, but easy to drink and a lot of fun. (86 points) $13

No comments:

Post a Comment