Matt Walker

Location: Northridge, CA

I am a Certified Specialist of Wine and uncertified Wine Geek! As a Snoother, I hope to raise awareness for smaller, lesser-known but quality driver producers. Major regions I specialize in include Washington, California, Tuscany, Bordeaux, and the Douro

Wines Less Traveled: Chardonnay

I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Chardonnay, in that I seem to either love them or loath them without much in between.  That being said there's a reason it's one of the world's most popular and renowned white grapes.  The challenge is to balance the malolactic fermentation with freshness and oak with the grape's (let's face it) limited expressivness.  When everything comes together chardonnay is elegant, rich, and a joy to drink.  Once again it's likely you may not have heard of some or any of the wonderful, tiny, and sometimes new producers on this list but they are all doing exceptional wines with great price-to-value.

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Argot Wines Old Habits Chardonnay Bennett Valley (2009)
Comments: Premier Cru Burgundy meets classic California. Citrus hits the nose first but then gives way to richer fruits like figs and bruleed apples. The palette is weighty but not flabby or fat. There's marzipan golden apple, stone fruit, and Challa bread. Just a lovely wine.
Previously available for $39.00
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2 Moone Tsai Napa Valley Chardonnay (2009)
Comments: In a word...Wow! This wine has balance, grace, richness, complexity, and liveliness. Aromas of spiced pear and baked golden apples along with a nice touch of caramel. The palette's creaminess is balanced out by wonderfully fresh acidity. This is one of those wine's that will wake you up and take a second look at a grape you thought had nothing new to offer!
Previously available for $50.00
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3 Lloyd Cellars Chardonnay (2009)
Comments: This is a Chardonnay for California Chard lovers and hater alike! Made by Robert Lloyd who, as head winemaker, brought Rombauer into the top 100 Wines of the World (Wine Spectator). There's no mistaking this is a California style Chard but the use of oak is perfectly integrated with the rest of the flavors rather than overwhelming them. Flavors of tropical fruits like Pineapple and passion fruit along with vanilla backed with surprisingly bright acidity and a lush mouth-feel. The word for this wine is harmony!
Previously available for $36.99
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4 Kestrel Chardonnay Yakima Valley (2009)
Comments: An excellent value, green apple and lemon zest with just the right amount of oak plus a thin streak of minerality that rounds out the finish quite nicely.
Previously available for $17.00
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5 Ideology Cellars Oak Knoll District "Blondie" Chardonnay (2009)
Comments: Chardonnay in its purest form, no malolactic, no oak. Bright, and overflowing with different flavors. This has to be one of the most purely flavorful chardonnays I have had. Melon, candied lemon, marmalade, spice and apple pie. Wonderfully different, flying in the face of the California Oak Bomb!
Previously available for $29.00
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6 Athair Chardonnay Russian River Valley (2009)
Comments: Another great wine from Athair and again a wonderful value. Very well balanced, bright tree fruit juxtaposed with marshmallow and dulce de leche. Precise acidity plus a lengthy finish.
Previously available for $39.99
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  • 1107678hoochbear what chardonnay do I love? Chateau Ste. Michelle and Sams Club. Light and fruity is right. A good place to start...especially in the heat of summer. hooch

  • 197823chkm8k2 The palate is weighty, not flabby or fat....what does that mean?

  • 842795Matt Walker By weighty I mean the literal weight of the wine in your mouth, the viscosity or richness if you will. Imagine the difference between a chowder and chicken noodle soup. The former has more weight than the latter. While richness and ripeness, especially in a Chardonnay, can be positive if these qualities go too far you get a "flabby" wine. Flabby = overripe, overrich, and above all too little acidity. Flabby wines are heavy rather than just rich, one note instead of complex, and often just plain flat.

  • 1032666shsim Im glad to see no oak and european style chardonnays! I have not tried anyone from your list, but might do some exploring. I love the Jewell ranch Chardonnay from J wines. That is my favorite so far although I have not had many. What do you think about that?

  • 842795Matt Walker I've only had the pleasure of trying a few of the Pinots from J but I'll keep an eye out for the Chard. I definitely prefer the less oak, less malo chards. You may have noticed a lack of Burgundies which I hope to remedy in another list soon.

  • 1032666shsim Great, me too! I look forward to your list!

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