Sunday, July 5, 2009

Welcome to My Wine World

Hi! I just pulled a bottle of Chardonnay out of the fridge, and grimaced as I noticed the tell-tale cork-popped-right-through-the-foil. Yes, I did it again: left that bottle in the freezer overnight. Well, we'll drink it anyways.

This glass is a great prop for writing this post: it's from a winery I want you all to know and love. It's also a wonderfully rich, bold, well-balanced Chardonnay -- Artesa Carneros Chardonnay 2006. It's kind of unique among California Chard's because it uses a healthy dose of oak without tasting "woody", and tastes buttery without crossing the line into fat and flabby.

This may seem to be splitting hairs, but here's what I mean: too many California Chardonnays are aged in new oak barrels for many months, with the result that the wood tannins overpower the fruit and sipping the wine makes you think you're chewing on a 2 x 4.

At the same time, many California winemakers overdo malolactic fermentation. (Sorry to use "wine geek" talk. Malolactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation wherein the wine's crisp malic acid, which is like the acid in apples, is converted into lactic acid, which is the acid found in milk.) Long story short: all the snap goes out of the Chardonnay, and it leaves a taste in your mouth that's oily and heavy.

So back to Artesa. They didn't commit these wine atrocities on this Chardonnay. They made a well-balanced wine that has rich flavors but a snappy finish. The nice butterscotch undertones don't hurt it, either. In fact, esteemed wine publications such as Wine Spectator agreeed with me enough to give the 2006 a 90 point rating.

You may have trouble finding this vintage, because the 2007 has already been released. Not to worry -- it's the same style, and drinks just as well. It also got the magic 90 point rating...

So please go enjoy, and let me know what you think. In my next post I'd like to tell you about the rest of the Artesa line-up, and the absolutely amazing winery in Carneros. Cheers!

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