Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wine Reviews: California Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist. 

Winter is on its way, and here in the Mid-Atlantic it’s already cold, windy and dark most of the time. Sure, it’s prime time for burly red wines, but I sip whites all year round. I cook a lot of vegetarian dishes, so I always have chilled white wines around, and sometimes I just can’t handle to density or tannic bite of a young red wine.

I recently tasted through a few Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs from California, and found a lot to like.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single blind.

2015 Matchbook Chardonnay Old Head - California, Central Valley, Dunnigan Hills
SRP: $15
Medium yellow color. Smells of bruised yellow apples, apricot, white peaches, and the fruit is topped with honey and toasted nuts. On the palate this shows plump and honeyed texture with medium-low acidity. Juicy pears and bruised apples fruit, rich and generous, mixed with honeyed tea, buttered popcorn and some toasted nuts. A bit simple, but fun stuff if you like this style. Aged in about 20% new oak barrels. (85 points) 

2014 FEL Chardonnay Savoy Vineyard - California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $48
Rich golden color. Aromas of bruised apple, baked pear, apricot, along with some hazelnut and dried honey, some yellow flowers and orange blossom. The aromas get really complex and expressive with air. The palate is full-bodied with a creamy texture but the acidity is bright and vibrant. Juicy peach and pear fruit combines with banana and baked apple. Complex secondary flavors of hazelnut, almond, honeycomb, finishes with a spritz of acidity and minerals. Very impressive now but should improve nicely in the cellar. Aged two years in 40% new French oak. (91 points)

2014 Stonestreet Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $40
Bright gold color. Aromas of peach, glazed apple, honeysuckle, and an interesting mix of sea salt and caramelized nuts. Full bodied and rich but generous acidity, the bruised apple and baked pear fruit mixes with bright white flowers and a refreshing chalky sense. Fresh and complex, but lots of that classic honey and nutty richness. Aged 11 months in about 40% new French oak, this is a blend of estate grapes from sites on the western ridge of the Mayacamas. (88 points)

2015 La Voix Chardonnay Here and Heaven John Sebastiano Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills
SRP: $55
Medium gold color. Gorgeous aromas of oranges and lemon curd topped in sea salt, crushed rocks, talc, honeysuckle — wow! Medium-bodied on the palate with brisk acidity and lots of saline and minerals. Juicy apricot, lemon curd, orange peel, mixed in with complex notes of white tea, honey, chalk and salted almond. Exciting with its intense flavors but there is so much freshness and depth in this wine. I think this will be fascinating in three or four years, too. Native yeast fermentation, aged in old oak barrels, this is a thrilling wine for fans of more restrained Chardonnay. (93 points)

2015 Quivira Sauvignon Blanc Fig Tree - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
SRP: $24
Pale straw color. Smells of white peaches, nectarines, some honey and hints of white pepper. Bright and lively on the palate with a medium-bodied frame and pervasive acidity. Guava, peach and nectarine mix with tart green apples and limes for a focused combination of fruit. Notes of chalk, salted almond, sea breeze and minerals linger on the long finish. Crisp but packed with flavor. Mostly stainless steel but 40% is fermented and aged in a mix of new and used French oak and Acacia wood. (89 points)

2014 Stonestreet Sauvignon Blanc - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
SRP: $35
Very bright yellow with a hint of green. Aromas burst open with lemon, lime, kiwi, sea shells, hay and cut flower stems. Zippy acidity combines with some generous texture, this is wonderfully balanced. Bright lemon, kiwi and ruby red grapefruit play nicely with these notes of dandelion, flower stems, and there's a pervasive sense of minerals and rocky stream. Long, intense finish with chalky mineral notes. Bracing yet gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc. 70/30 stainless steel and old foudre fermentation, 13.5% alcohol. (91 points)

2015 Galerie Sauvignon Blanc Naissance - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $30
Pale gold color. Smells of salted limes, kiwi, green apples and lots of rich yellow and white flowers. Crisp and bright with a moderately creamy mouthfeel, the white peach, apple and lime juice drizzled on papaya meets chalk, minerals and white flowers. So zesty and clean but enough complexity to keep this seriously interesting. Where a lot of Napa Sauv Blancs get hedonistic, this is nuanced and intriguing. This spends time in a mixture of stainless steel, concrete and new and used French oak with six months on the lees. (90 points)

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