California White Wine – Chardonnay
One of the things I’ve learned already in this adventure of starting a wine club is that many people have tons of questions about grapes and different varietals of wine. In an effort to help educate people and answer some of these basic questions I’ve put together a few basics about some popular wines.
The undisputed queen of the California White Wines, Chardonnay is a popular choice for many reasons.
People generally describe Chardonnay as a crisp clean white wine. You’ll find small fig, citrus, tropical fruit or apple flavors in most bottles. More recently Chardonnay has started to be aged in oak barrels which gives the resulting wine a much deeper oak flavor which can be the strongest of all the flavors in the wine. One common thread with Chardonnay from all over the world, the balance of sugar and acid is outstanding and makes it an entirely drinkable wine for wine lovers and novices alike.
What Grape is It?
Genetic studies show that the grape is actually a cross between the Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc grapes. California Chardonnay is typically grown in cool valleys because the fruit ripens so quickly that producers need to slow the process down in order to keep the alcohol content to a reasonable level.
History of the wine in California:
Although first planted in the 1800’s the grape was nearly forgotten during prohibition when farmers and wine makers were forced to take Chardonnay fields out and replace them with grapes with thicker skins so transport and concealment would be easier. A few patches in more rugged terrain survived, especially in the Santa Cruz mountains and the grape started a full scale comeback in the 1970’s. It is now the stable of the California white wine industry and the most popular white wine in the world.
Chardonnay is generally thought of as one of the easiest wines to create. In fact many observers of the wine industry feel that any average winemaker can create an outstanding Chardonnay given the growing conditions within California’s cool valleys.
Chardonnay under $ 8 or so per bottle will have some significant issues.
$ 8-$ 20 Typically good balance and complexity, but lacking in oak flavoring.
$ 20-$ 40 Great Chardonnays in this price range
$ 40+ Unless your palate and nose for wine is exceptional, you most likely will not be able to tell the difference between a $ 20 bottle scored at 92 points and a $ 80 bottle scored at 94 points by the major wine critics in the world.
To Sum It Up:
We don’t plan to offer Chardonnay through either of our initial two Uncorked Ventures wine clubs. Frankly you can find many good bottles of Chardonnay at lower price points that are readily available.
2007 92 D/H
2006 88 D
2005 94 D/H
2004 91 D
2003 90 D
2002 95 D
2001 96 D
2000 88 D
1999 89 D
1998 85 D
1997 93 D
1996 90 D
1995 91 D
1994 94 D
1993 90 D
1992 92 D
1991 94 D
1990 90 D
95-100 Spectacular. Most producers made very good wines at all levels
90-94 Excellent. The best wines should be great. Consistency throughout the vintage.
85-89 Very Good. The best producers made top wines. Inconsistent thru the lower levels.
80-86 Good. Many producers made good wines with some inconsistency at the bottom.
75-79 Middling. Choose your producers carefully. Only the best may have made a top wine.
70-74 Below Average. Tough vintage to make good wines.
Under 70 A Poor vintage. Spend your money very carefully.
D/H=Drink or Hold
I hope this has helped you make an informed decision when buying a bottle of Chardonnay. Just remember, vintage is important with wine.
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