We have the opportunity to meet a significant number of guests who LOVE Chardonnay, conversely, we also have a fair number of folks who will exclaim, “Oh, I really don’t like Chardonnay!” I used to be in the former camp, but I’ve come to appreciate that Chardonnay, as a whole, is a misunderstood varietal, and actually quite a find.
Chardonnay grapes are generally some of the most neutral grapes in the world. This simply means that their taste/flavor is dependent upon where they’re grown, as they tend to pick up the flavors from the soil and climate in which they are produced. In the past, winemakers used a serious amount of oak to influence the finished product in the bottle. Consequently, many people associate Chardonnay with oak, or my personal favorite, ‘oak bombs.’ But nothing could be further from the truth. Now, winemakers have the freedom to create an exceptional Chardonnay using their unique vision.
A versatile wine, Chardonnay has a range of styles, and has become one of the most beloved white wines on the market. Crisp, pure, or full bodied and luscious, there’s wide range out there, and all you have to do is be willing to discover your personal preference.
Our 2021 Clements Hills Chardonnay is crisp and sassy, but with a smooth and even decadent finish. It’s nicely layered, and although it was barrel fermented in French Oak, it’s nowhere near an ‘oak bomb.’ What it is, is moderately dry with a nice range of acidity. And the flavor spectrum runs from apple to lemon and pineapple with soft notes of vanilla. As our winemakers have said, “It’s a diamond among Chardonnays, and honestly, I agree.
The grape itself has above-average acidity and is fruit-forward. But otherwise, it depends upon the climate as to what you’ll smell and taste: ranging from fresh citrus to tropical fruit, or toasted nuts, mushrooms, honey, even flower blossoms. Cooler climates generally produce wines with higher acidity, lighter body and a milder fruit character, while warmer climates can produce lighter acidity, bigger body and a bolder fruit character.
And here’s where the winemakers come into a prominent role. Those flavors and aromas also depend upon the vinification process, or how the winemaker decides to produce that specific vintage. Malolactic fermentation, the secondary fermentation process which converts sharp malic acids into soft lactic ones, can add those buttery aromas and flavors. Stainless steel will traditionally produce a crisp, acidic wine. Each winemaker has their own vision and set of skills that they bring to create that unique bottle of Chardonnay.
So, if you’ve never liked Chardonnay, or even considered drinking this varietal, now’s the time to splurge and explore the vast number of beautiful Chardonnay wines available right here in Lodi. If you’re open to trying, I guarantee you that you’ll find that special style that appeals to you.
During the month of July, purchase 2 bottles of our 2021 Clements Hills Chardonnay, and take 10% off your purchase. Wine Club members, that's 30% off your purchase. What's not to love?!?