One of our favorite activities at Wine Warehouse is breaking down the prejudices people have formed about certain wine styles. Over the years we have done a number on ones like 'All German Riesling is sweet', or 'Real Chianti only has the rooster on it or comes in the wicker wrapped bottle'. Today we take on 'Unoaked Chardonnay is bad Chardonnay' as well as 'All California Chardonnay is oaky and buttery'; a two-fer. Like many prejudices, there is a nugget of truth to this belief. Historically most unoaked Chardonnays are made from younger vines or lesser sources of fruit that may not hold up to the time and cost of barrel aging, and when the New World styled wineries in California developed the less expensive methods of adding oak flavor to wines without using actual barrels (staves or chips added to the tanks), the temptation to add oak to everything kind of took over. But we are definitely starting to see the pendulum swing in the other direction now with better quality fruit being featured in unoaked wines, especially from some of the cooler growing areas that have a distinctive vibrant character.
Bruce Neyers has had a foot in both the French and Californian markets for the better part of 40 years as both a vigneronne and working with famed importer Kermit Lynch, and that French influence really shows through here on the aromatics. Bright apple and pear and hints of Chablis-like briny seashell jump out at first, with a richer lemon curd showing up as it opens up. It's definitely a bolder, warmer style of Chardonnay than a Burgundy, but the influences are definitely there. The texture of lesser unoaked Chardonnays is often harsh and lacking body, which is what sets off most people, but the higher quality of fruit and extensive time aged on the lees an impressive texture of creamy white fruit with no need for buttery malolactic fermentation to tame the citrus. The finish is both long and vibrant, with tannin texture cutting through the rich fruit to provide an intensity and viscosity that is almost more similar to some of the fleshy white Rhone varietal wines. A truly great pairing with briny seafood dishes, and a wine that has lured even a few of our most staunch Francophiles to enjoy a few bottles.
The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!