November 30, 2005 |
Supple and graceful, the 2003 Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay is deceptive. It drinks expensive but carries an astonishingly modest price tag. From one of the top wineries in South Africa, the Rustenberg Chardonnay is barrel-fermented and aged in French oak, very like Mt. Eden in style. With its silken texture, lively acidity and beguiling aroma of white peaches and citrus, this is one Chardonnay that plays well with food.
September 7, 2005 |
Wine buffs on the prowl for a Burgundian-style Chardonnay made in California may have long lost hope of finding a bottle for less than $70. You can pretty much forget Napa and Sonoma. But the Santa Cruz Mountains, where winemaking goes back to the 1860s, still has a few jewels. Mount Eden's Estate Chardonnay, from a mountain vineyard first planted in the 1940s, is one of them.
August 17, 2005 |
In the wine world, few topics are more boring than clones. Developed in laboratories, propagated like fruit flies with cuddly names such as "76" and "95," clones represent the wine world at its most clinical. Talking about wine in terms of clones is like talking about a Ferrari in terms of camshafts. And yet among winemakers, there is no hotter topic.
June 1, 2005 |
The country road unfurls through a misty landscape of giant trees and meadows dotted with grazing deer. Vines appear to one side, and then a weathered old barn in a grove of redwoods. A glimpse of stacked wooden barrels through the open barn doors tells you the place is a winery, and a small sign invites you to come in and taste. Accept the invitation and you may well encounter world-class wines, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The scene is typical of Sonoma County's wine country.
May 10, 2005 |
What do women want? A winery took up the age-old question and came up with this answer: a lower-alcohol wine. The new product, White Lie Early Season Chardonnay, bucks the trend of wines that carry a hefty alcoholic punch. It has an alcohol content of 9.8%, compared with the 13% and 14% found in some vintages.
May 8, 2005 |
The approach to Thomas Fogarty Winery was just this side of too bucolic. Lupine and poppies lined the driveway, trellised wisteria hung over the picnic tables and swans (swans!) glided around a pond filled with lily pads. Inside the tasting room, a wall of windows faced steep vine-covered hills. Unbelievably, my husband, Ken, and I had the place to ourselves.
March 23, 2005 |
The first time my wife tasted Marcassin Chardonnay, her eyes glowed and she began smiling as if she'd won the lottery -- or signed a big movie deal. I wasn't writing about wine then and had never heard of Marcassin -- the Chardonnay we tasted was a '91, only Marcassin's second vintage -- so I asked the man who brought the bottle to dinner how I could get some. He explained that you had to get on the winemaker's private mailing list and since he'd gotten to know the couple that runs Marcassin, he was able to get us on that list.
January 12, 2005 |
With the prices commanded by top California Chardonnays these days, it has to be a really special occasion -- a coronation or, say, an inauguration -- to warrant popping the cork on one of these rich, oaky fruit bombs. What's a poor Chardonnay lover to do? Drinking down is awfully hard going once you get used to the good stuff. Time to discover David Ramey's Chardonnays.
November 26, 2004 |
Jess Jackson made his mark as a lawyer, carving out an accomplished career as a land-use attorney. He got into winemaking and became a huge success, building an empire on Kendall-Jackson chardonnay. So far, though, he doesn't seem to have gotten the hang of retirement. Jackson, who briefly stepped down from the top spot at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Ltd.
August 4, 2004 |
This crisp, lean Chardonnay from Keller Estate on the Sonoma Coast is made more in the style of some Chablis than the oaky Burgundies many California winemakers have taken as their model. Keller Estate has its lush, vanilla-scented Chardonnay too, but this one, made with the same estate-grown grapes, but vinified entirely without oak, is a slam dunk with sushi, sashimi and other Asian food. Gold with reflections of palest green and light citrus notes, it's entirely food friendly.