Poor Chardonnay. It is, by far, considered the wine people love to hate. It’s even sparked an entire wine subculture: ABC drinkers, a.k.a. those who will drink Anything But Chardonnay. What’s wild is that this grape is, at the same time, one of the world’s most popular wine grapes.
I, too, thought I hated Chardonnay some time ago. I had tasted one too many that were oaky and bitter and just plain not my style. In a classic closed-minded gesture, I then turned my nose up at any mention of the varietal. And then one day I bought a bottle of Blanc de Blanc champagne. I loved it – bright, crisp with lovely fruit and a mineral-y zest. Turning the bottle around to read the description I saw the words, “100% Chardonnay grapes.” Whaaa? Totally busted. Doing a little research I discovered that some of the world’s great white wines – Chablis, Montrachet, Saint Veran – are all made with the Chardonnay grape. While Chardonnay wines are aged in oak barrels or with oak chips, these varietals are either not aged in oak at all or have very minimal contact with it. Thus, the delicious flavors of the grape shine through without being masked by an assault of buttery-ness or oak.
Originating in the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay is now grown in many parts of the world, and it excels here in southern California. In our climate, Chardonnay grapes generally produce light to medium-bodied wines with wonderful tropical fruit flavors. It is one of the only white wine varietals that is classically aged in oak, although, some vintners choose to keep it away from the barrel and age it solely in stainless steel. At Ponte, we like things classy, so our Chard is aged in oak barrels, but for just enough time to give it a wisp of warm vanilla and toasty undertones. Our 2013 vintage was recently sent in a Wine Club shipment and Members raved about its bright pear and pineapple flavors with traces of orange citrus on the finish. You can purchase our 2013 Chardonnay here.
We also recently harvested our 2014 Chardonnay grapes…
2014 Chardonnay harvest. The brown spots show the impressive sugar content of the grapes.
Even though we just picked the grapes on the 28th of July, this vintage is already showing beautiful pear and pineapple characteristics. The oak barrel-aging that lies ahead will bring out hints of vanilla, toast and coconut as well.
We encourage you to stop by any day of the week and try our current Chardonnay, a wine we feel will change any preconceived notions you have about this timeless varietal.
–Erica Martinez/Mark Schabel