Say what you want about California Chardonnay. Is it shrill and shrieking like Chablis? No. But it also doesn’t have to be the butt of tired oak & butter jokes inspired by the shenanigans of the 80’s and the fact in any supermarket, the facings of this variety outnumber any other by double, triple, or even ten-fold. Its popularity among the lowest-common-denominator of wine-drinkers is proven, and while those styles–CLEARLY–have their fans, there’s SOOO much quality chard available to those who know: styles drawing from BOTH the California sunshine AND the grape’s love of malo and its intrinsic relationship to oak. And we all love full-bodied Chardonnay: in its purest forms it can be an acidic–but flavorful–monster, and with a steady hand in the cellar carefully balancing the things that plump it up to decadent levels, it can be one of the richest experiences in white wine. This is one of those wines.
Clear canary-amber in the glass, tropical fruit, movie-popcorn sage and olive-oil spirit administer a heady blow to the nose. Nutritional yeast and dill, wet floor-mats and wet sand; all align methodically in a bouquet kissed by oak and green leaf-piles and that indescribable cellar-nuance the aforementioned grocery end-caps go to great lengths to filter out–but obviously, it tells you it is real wine.
In the mouth, none of the caramel or lush seasonings translate through in great marks, choosing rather to apply sharp clarity and grating minerality to the thin, cool entry. [I’m drinking it at or slightly below 60°. I have no idea what this wine would taste like at refrigerator-temperatures, and no serious wine-person should even be curious.] One of those wines which–though light–applies a ridiculous richness to the palate. Pinot does this regularly, and here we have its Burgundian big-sister, so the conundrum remains intact. The delicate intensity of this wine is hard to put into words. Dark and brooding in some light, it flashes bright and spritely in a sly deft of hand. The butter of the nose never escapes the taste completely: each sip as you draw it in comes with this heart-felt introduction. Red-wine-concentrated over the middle, the tropical gives way to zesty formalities pointing you toward the tannic exit. Clear and clean in the finish–the blurble of structure un-ignorable in the exhaust–it is a true testament to RRV Chard taken to world-class levels. But proudly from California.
2018 MARITANA Chardonnay Shop Block 1967 Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Sonoma Co. 14.0