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Chardonnay Grapes

Chardonnay Grapes

Glass of ChardonnayChardonnay has become a favorite of Americans who like medium bodied, slightly fruity white wines which complement most chicken, veal and fish dishes. Many people in the U.S. find white wines more amenable to summertime drinking, where most prefer cooler beverages (Chardonnay is always served chilled) which are lighter and mix well at garden parties with cheese plates and a variety of snacks. Many Chardonnays have been described as "rich, buttery, creamy and lush". Because of this, Chardonnay sales have increased dramatically in the U.S. and many other countries in the last 20 years.

Chardonnay is produced in many regions globally. Some of the most important Chardonnay producing regions are Chili, Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, South Africa and the states of  California,Texas, New York and Washington.

California Wines

Because California wines in general (and Chardonnays in particular) have become so popular in recent years, we will begin by listing several good - excellent quality Chardonnays from winemakers in that state. The descriptions intentionally kept brief to highlight the vintner, area produced, alcohol content and basic features such as body (light - medium - full), oak barrel aging and other characteristics.

Acacia ChardonnayAcacia - 2006 Chardonnay, Sonoma (13.5% alcohol)
This wine offers "aromas of pear and toast and rich, vibrant flavors of apples and tropical fruits...". This is a distinctive, full-bodied Chardonnay which is bold, yet pleasantly balanced.

Bouchaine - 2006 Chardonnay, Napa Valley - Carneros (14.5% alcohol)
This wine from the Bacchus Collection was produced from the Bouchede Beurre Estate vineyard and should ease the palate of those who desire rich, full-bodied, buttery chardonnays. bouche de Beurre literally means "mouth of butter" and this vintage was aged in oak, giving the wine a distinctive, but not over-bearing fullness. Only 150 cases were produced.

Clos du Bois - 2007 Chardonnay, North Coast (13.5% alcohol)
Clos du Bois has become almost synonymous with Chardonnay and this "lush Chardonnay tastes like ripe apple and pear with hints of butter, toasty oak and spice...". We feel this is one of the best of the California Chardonnays in the $15 - $25 range.

Monterey CoastlineCoastline - 2007 Chardonnay, Monterey County (13.5% alcohol)
The back of the bottle of this fine chardonnay describes the 840 mile long coastline of California where - between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara - vineyards were planted by Franciscan Friars back in the 1800's. This wine is full-bodied with aromas and flavors of apple and melon with a hint of vanilla and oak.

EMM - 2005 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County (14.1% alcohol)
This relative newcomer by E. Michael Moore is a pleasant surprise - with its bold and lush fruitiness, full body and well balanced character. Lovers of overpowering, 'dominant' Chardonnays will find this refreshing. Its slightly higher alcohol content (versus many of its peers) is a plus.

Franciscan - 2006 Chardonnay, Napa Valley (13.5% alcohol)
Another moderate-full bodied offering which has "creamy vanilla notes from barrel fermentation and barrel aging...". The oak highlights give this Chardonnay excellent character and a delightful 'silky' effect.

Kendall-Jackson - 2006 Chardonnay, Grand Reserve (13.5% alcohol)
Kendall-Jackson has become very popular with Chardonnay lovers because its offerings are well balanced, yet bold, fruity and flavorful. This wine offers "lemon and lime tones... tropical fruit and pineapple...". Fermented primarily in French oak gives it "overtones of toasty oak, woodspice and butterscotch".

La Crema - 2006 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast (13.9% alcohol)
One of the most full-bodied and 'creamy' of the California Chardonnays, this wine is produced in Santa Rosa and offers a lush, rich 'almost velvety' taste. This will be popular with those seeking that 'buttery' flavor.

La Crema - 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley (14.5% alcohol)
The vintner's name gives you a clue - this chardonnay has a creamy, velvety texture, full-bodied with lively acidity and crisp flavors of pear, honeysuckle, hazelnut and butterscotch.

Muirwood - 2007 Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco (13.8% alcohol)
This Central Coastline full-bodied wine has bright acidity with tropical and citrus fruit flavors. It was barrel fermented for 11 months "surlie", giving it depth and complexity. Recommended as a complement to creamy risotto and Gulf prawns.

Robert Mondavi - 2005 Chardonnay, Napa Valley (13.5% alcohol)
Mondavi is one of those groundbreaking California winemakers who chose to challenge the French decades ago - and won. Many of Mondavi's offerings are distinctive and full-bodied in their product category and the Chardonnay holds up to this tradition. This wine has "lush tropical fruit, floral and spice character..." and "comes from grapes grown in the cool, windswept Los Careros region at the southern tip of Napa Valley...". This is a medium-bodied Chardonnay, not as overpowering as the Wild Horse, La Crema and Clos du Bois.

Rodney Strong - 2006 Chardonnay, Sonoma County (13.8% alcohol)
This medium - full bodied Chardonnay could be described as a good compromise between those bold, overpowering wines and the slightly more subtle ones with yet a distinctive character. The Rodney Strong 2006 Chardonnay "exhibits lemon and apple aromas with hints of toasty oak and in the palate, pear pineapple and refreshing acidity...".

Saintsbury - 2006 Chardonnay (unfiltered), Carneros (13.5% alcohol)
The Saintsbury 2006 Chardonnay is full-bodied with a lush finish - perfect for wine drinkers who like bold, bright fruit highlights with a delicate complexity. This unfiltered Chardonnay has more depth than many other typical offerings from California.

Wild Horse ChardonnayWild Horse - 2006 Chardonnay, Central Coast (13.9% alcohol)
With its distinctive label depicting a grey-white horse running on a black background (some say running wild through the night), Wild Horse offers a full-bodied Chardonnay with hints of 'green apple, pear, vanilla and caramel with toasted oak'. Produced and bottled in Templeton, California (southeast of Paso Robles), this Central Coast offering is one that has become popular with those who prefer bold, lush Chardonnays with a powerful after taste.