Published on July 27th, 2017 | by Greg0
Wente Wines: It’s Always A Good Time For Chardonnay
Summer is a perfect season for Chardonnay. When temperatures rise, red wines feel too heavy. And while a nice rose is just the thing in the afternoon, they are hard to pair with most food and certainly won’t impress most guests. Today’s wines will stand up to some aging, and even wine snobs- you know the type- will come away from your party feeling satisfied. The bottles don’t need to be expensive either, and if you aren’t intimately familiar with the varietal, this single producer provides a nice lineup of different and distinctive Chardonnays.
We’ve enjoyed Wente Wines before, and this year we got a chance to try a trio from “California’s First Family of Chardonnay”. The company has actually been making bottles since 1883, making this the fifth generation in the busines. In fact, they claim that nearly 80% of the Chardonnay vineyards in California are planted with the Wente clone, which originated from the family estate. And you can start with the bargain $15 Wente Morning Fog which never disappoints- the 2016 is aged 50/50 in stainless steel and neutral oak, making this one balanced with just a touch of the vanilla notes from aging, and there is just a bit of sweetness and acidity that might be brought out by the 2% Gewurztraminer. Refreshing, with a great finish.
For a little more body and richness, the 2015 Riva Ranch Chardonnay offers a little more of the creaminess that you may associate with Chardonnays- without ever tilting towards the butteriness that often characterize Old World-style versions. The grapes are harvested from Arroyo Seco, Monterey, where gravely soil meets with cooler temperatures for a different result that is still very California. At $22 a bottle, this is the one to pair against dinner- drinkable, friendly, it offers enough depth to keep you coming back without any overpowering flavors that might distract from the meal.
The 2016 Small Lot Eric’s Chardonnay is the zestiest, and most sparkling of the bunch- a little less texture and a little more pizazz, brighter and with an aroma that will certainly draw you in. Aged in all stainless steel, there is no oakiness or vanilla here, just fruitier, more delicate notes. Grown in the Livermore Valley around San Francisco Bay, this one runs about $30- and is the one to sip straight before or after the meal, a particular highlight and one of our most reliable favorites. All vintages available now, directly.