It’s California Chardonnay time again! Particularly a couple from the 2013 vintage in Sonoma. I was sent samples of both the J Vineyards Estate Grown (from the Russian River Valley section of Sonoma) and the Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard, which hails from the Sonoma Coast. Both of these wines see time in oak barrels. To which I say, “Good!” I cannot live by searingly acidic, high-pitched white wines alone. (Probably could do a better job of selling them in the description there, though.)
I started off with the J Vineyards, and not just because my name starts with J. The predominate characteristic of this wine was, in a word, creaminess. But not heavy cream. More like feathery clouds coaxed into existence by the gentle flapping of an angel’s wings. Followed by a fresh apple-y taste accentuated by a post-imbibe suggestion of cinnamon. Bright, creamy, fresh.
OK, I have to admit that this creaminess does not come from divine beings but, rather, science. (I know, BOO!!! Well, science is pretty cool and stuff.) This wine goes through a process called “malolactic fermentation”. It turns that apple-y, tart profile into one more creamy. (Think lactic as in milk.) When done judiciously it add an alluring texture to Chardonnay. Cost? The suggested retail in California is $28. Also, you should check out the sparkling wines of J Vineyards. And they make an excellent Pinot Gris.
Moving on to the 2013 Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, my notes say, as compared to the J Vineyards, “More POW! WOW!” As in more richness. It’s a bit of a powerhouse wine, but balances that brawn with refreshing zip on the finish. The Gundlach Bundschu does not go through malolactic fermentation. So, if you were paying attention earlier, you’ll know that it’s probably not as creamy…right? Exactly! (BTW, $27) The POW/WOW I spoke of earlier makes me think of the Gundlach Bundschu as the kind of wine that walks into a party, makes its presence known, then is able to deliver the goods to back up its assertive, confident manner. The J Vineyards is more of the dreamy, smooth-talking type. I’ll leave it to you to decide which profile provides more sizzle for you and your…wine glass.
What’s your favorite kind of Chardonnay?