Dark goldenrod, and smelling reduced and candied. 8 years isn’t a terrible long time for a CA Chard, and I’m a bit surprised how amber this is. It IS their least expensive Chardonnay–and one which pops up on better supermarket shelves regularly–so clearly, the intent was not for this sort of aging. Milk chocolate and caramel in the nose, a bouquet of dull fruit, squished and oxidized–perhaps ran over by a truck or two. I’m at 65° right now–where I like to start with most whites, but I’m thinking another 10° in the chiller might brighten it up. MOST of the demographic for this wine assuredly drinks it frosty out of the fridge at 35 or 40, and I am sure the winemaking team take that into consideration. Flabby and wet-raggy, with gagging bruised floral, it smells more of a syrupy curiosity than a stellar aged chard.
Chilling it to 55 doesn’t improve things much, it’s still a toasty muss of almond butter and pond water. In the mouth, golden delicious and ripe pineapple cast a supple golden glow before the bitter burn of alcohol and black walnut take over. I’m trying to be nice, but it is just not cooperating. Now at 45°, it’s like it took a quick shower. Some of the chubby burnt overtones have faded, and the fruit shows a teensy sparkle of flat-soda acidity. Still, it is bitter and awkward middle-through-finish, and the entry so clumsy, there’s difficulty in awarding plaudits. I can’t decide if the finish is un-resolved tannins or the angry grip of oak gone awry, alcohol and unbalance, but no matter. It’s a curiosity at this point, not ridiculously undrinkable but not particularly enjoyable either. Drink them young.
2012 DUTTON-GOLDFIELD Chardonnay Dutton Ranch RRV Sonoma Co. 13.5