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Kunde Chardonnay 2015
Perhaps the most historically significant appellation in Sonoma County, the Sonoma Valley AVA was first planted with vines by Franciscan monks in 1823. It was the site of one of California’s first successful commercial wineries, and the region where French oak barrels were first utilized for aging California wines, thus creating the rich and voluptuous style of Chardonnay the state has become known for.
This geologically and climactically diverse district is capable of producing a wide variety of wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, and, most notably, Zinfandel, where ancient vines over 100 years old produce small crops of concentrated, spicy fruit. These are commonly produced as “field blends” along with Petite Sirah, Carignan, and other dark-fruited varieties.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.