Tag Archive: Chardonnay


Chardonnay has become a dirty word, the way the words “White Zin” used to be, and still are, to some degree. Though, White Zin no longer carries the disgust-oomph, that it used to. Today it’s been downgraded to Pabst Blue Ribbon status among the beer-snobs.

I hear it over, and over again in my retail job, “I just don’t like Chardonnay.” Well, do you like French white wines? Chances are, you do like Chardonnay, you just don’t know that’s what you’re drinking.

Chardonnay is one of the most versatile white grapes that I’ve come across. It’s one of the most obnoxious wine-jackealopes to chase, actually. In France, it’s aged in big, old, oak barrels that don’t impart any oaky character. In fact, many fantastic and famous chardonnay wines come from Chablis… yes, I said it, Chablis. The grapes are grown on shell and sea-life fossil stone, imparting a world-renowned terroir, that creates a match made in heaven with seafood. (Oysters, specifically.)

State-side, Chardonnay is grown and treated in so many different ways, it’s barely recognizable as a Chardonnay. Sometimes it’s oaked to death, either through the use of smaller, new oak barrels, which maximize wood to wine contact, or wood-chip treatments, which, in my opinion, is cheating. It’s making oak tea with wine, literally. I think my favorite phrase is “Chateau two-by-four,” though, I can’t recall exactly who said it. Oak imparts toast, coconut, and vanilla flavors into the Chardonnay. One truly delightfully oaked Chardonnay that I really fell in love with was Jed Steele’s Shooting Star Chardonnay Cuvee. Love, love, love this wine. I had it at the very first wine tasting I went to, with my boss, for politicians, hosted by Jed Steele, himself.

Then, of course, you have the modern style of Chardonnay that has become more popular than the age o’oak. These Chardonnays, or “Chards” as they’re affectionately known, are aged in stainless steel vats. They’re fruit driven, citrusy bombs of lemon, pineapple, and enough tart tropical fruit to sink a ship of koalas. The most popular selling un-oaked chardonnay that I’ve come across is the Four Vines “Naked” Chardonnay. It’s a fantastic pairing for picnic food, and of course, sea food. You can’t beat a bottle for around $10. (Though, Ryan Patrick did try. His bottling of his version was bottled in the same style of wider bottle, with the same colors as the former – post Four Vine’s success.)

The kicker: Most of Champagne, from the Champagne region of France, is made with Chardonnay and blends there of. If you enjoy Champagne, specifically, Blanc de Blanc, you should know… it’s Chardonnay. (Yes, I’m grinning ear to ear on this one.) Even sparkling, state-side wines are often made with Chardonnay, though it isn’t exclusive. Pinot Meunier, and Blanc de Noirs are used in blending Champagne.

So, before you tell me, “I just don’t like Chardonnay,” take a moment and think about it. There are so many styles, so many ways to enjoy it, perhaps the right one is just around the corner?

Luli is a delicious line of creations by the Master Sommelier, Sara Floyd and the Pisoni Family. Coming from the Santa Lucia Highlands, this line of wines was the most consistently enjoyable group on the tasting table at work.
Luli Sauv Blanc 2014
The Luli Sauv Blanc surprised me. Normally, I can’t stand Sauvignon Blanc, but in this instance, it was absolutely enjoyable. It opened as grassy, with sun-warmed straw and alphalpha. It tastes of pale minerals, hints of lime, and is deliciously floral across the palate, and flies off the palate gracefully at the finish, leaving behind only a pleasant memory. This Sauv Blanc reads more like a pinot grigio personality.

Luli Chardonnay 2013
The Luli Chard is surprisingly fruity, with pineapple, cantaloupe, and honeydew. This wine smells like a basement I was once in, in Spokane Washington. That aside, it is refreshingly crisp, with a pineapple after taste and a well time finished. What impressed me about this wine, is how beautifully balanced it was. There was excellent fruit, but enough acid to even it out.

Luli Rose 2014
This rose wine is lovely in the glass, pale antique peach roses, with the smell of musty roses, pale iced strawberries and apricots, with possible peaches. Simple, but this rose is beautiful, refreshing, and exactly as it smells. This wine is perfect for Sunday summer afternoons.

Luli Pinot Noir 2013
This pinot noir is a beautiful garnet in the glass, smelling precisely like you’d expect a pinot noir to smell, and tastes just the same. It is leather, cold weather raspberries, red cherries that are just slightly cloying. This wine is a cold weather wine, and smells like the air just before it snows. The finish is nice, though the cloying cherries might be abated by a longer opening period.

Trumpeter’s Chardonnay is a deliciously playful white wine from Mendoza Argentina. I took this sample wine with me because I’d never had a chardonnay from Argentina. At least, not to my recollection (which either means that they had been too good, or unremarkably beige.)This wine has a pleasant buttery mouth-feel not full. It’s actually a wine that I’d rather pair with food next time, because while there is buttery oak, lemony pineapple, and hints of canned pears, it’s lacking body. Some might say that quality that leaves room for food, I say, simply lacking.

This Mendocino Chardonnay is a beauty of vanilla, grapefruit, and pears, finessed, and comfortable with open cocktail fruit, hints of pineapple, dried apricot, and light almond slivers. It’s body is lined with peaches, and nectarines. This wine, while oaked, is deliciously refreshing, offering everything that Chardonnay promises, and more.

Toso Brut NV

Toso Brut is one of the most delicious sparklers I’ve had in a long time. It comes from Argentina, is 100% chardonnay and aged in stainless steel rather than oak casks. Toso has much more fruit and less yeast than I expected. It was a deliciously pleasant surprise to find burgeoning honeydew melon, peach sorbet, hints of pineapple, and apricot cream finished with brilliantly pure minerals to refresh the palate. It was precisely the celebration inside the glass that one hopes to be celebrating outside of it as well.

La Croix Pouilly Fuisse

La Croix’s Pouilly Fuisse is an enviable chardonnay. To the nose, it is rich, luscious, and decadent. At first it surprises you with red licorice aromas, raisins, syrupy condensed raisin liquor. But across the palate, it breezes, sparkling in pinpricks of minerality, with golden delicious apples, pears, candied rhubarb, and a crisp light taste reminiscent of slightly under ripe pear flesh. This is a brilliant wine, elegant, lush, and high flying.

cropTierra de Antes Chardonnay is a lovely crisp, mineral blast from Mendoza Argentina. It appears day-bright in the glass, and is absolutely full of crisp pink lady apple, white stone minerality, honey suckle, hints of lemon zest and tropical yellow fruits, but they aren’t as over-powering as they could be. Tierra de Antes Chardonnay has a fabulous mouth-feel beginning with creamy understated oak, then sparkles across the palate to a lemon butter finish that is almost reminiscent of a South African Chenin Blanc, but it possesses a fuller body.

Ladies and Gentleman, this is summer in a bottle. If ever I were to sum up my happiest summer memories of lounging around in a park, or by the beach, this would be it, bottled and sold. 10 out of 10.