Price: $13.30 direct from the winery
What They Said:
Per the winery “There is a distinct reason that winemakers like making Chardonnay. It puts their craft, and consequently them, front and center stage. Unlike other white varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, which is herbal and grassy or Gewürztraminer, which is heady with floral aromas, ripe Chardonnay is more chameleon. That means the winemaker’s choices in the cellar become paramount. These decisions include whether to encourage a secondary malolactic fermentation that adds buttery tones, the length and temperature of the fermentation and perhaps above all the choice of oak cooperage including which cooper, which forest the wood should come from, how long the wood should dry, the toast level, whether to toast the head of the barrel, not to mention how long the wine should rest on the yeast, if it should be stirred and how much time it should spend in oak.
This Mendocino bottling is less buttery than the Première Reserve and the lovely apple-melon flavors and moderate price tag entitle Navarro’s winemaker Jim Klein, to take a bow. Gold Medal winner.”
What I Think:
Another bottle from Navarro, as many of you I am a big fan of theirs (full disclosure: I am a member of their wine club). They called this one “What’s the difference?” My history with their Chardonnay’s has been decent. Given that I don’t have an inclination to this style to begin with they haven’t been able to create one for me. Given that I use their basic Mendocino Chardonnay as an annual benchmark to make sure that my overall opinion towards these wines hasn’t evolved since our last encounter. That being said, they have an Anderson Valley Reserve label that I have been showing to the cellar for the last three or four years, maybe one of those could change my opinion.
Now, let’s get back to this bottle of wine. On the nose you think typical chardonnay; there is butter at the forefront followed by the aromas of the barrel with some fruit lingering way off in the distance. On the tongue, it dances a little before starting to show some apple flavors. The wine is rich and full bodied through the mid-palate before finishing slightly tart on the backbone. A nice wine to drink but given my general disdain for the butter and barrel that dominate these wines I won’t be signing up for more. Above you can see some of the many decisions that go into making these wines. I wonder how they could be made to suit my palate profile. Seems like me the first thing I would do is barrel them in stainless steel. I have had a few of these unwooded chardonnays that let the fruit do the talking and while I haven’t loved them I have enjoyed them better than most. Let the fruit do the talking! The second thing I may do is skip that secondary malolactic fermentation which introduces the buttery tones. Once I get a hint of these I think I almost mentally shut down on giving the wines a real chance, quickly chalking them up as typical. Lastly, I’d play with the degree of toasting. I am guessing that for me less would be more. No all I have to do is get someone to hire me as a winemaker and we could my theories to practice. Who’s got connections for me?