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Laetitia Estate Chardonnay 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
One of the coolest growing areas in California, the Arroyo Grande Valley runs northeast to southwest just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and is part of the Central Coast AVA. Situated in such a way that cold Pacific Ocean air and fog is allowed to filter into the valley, Arroyo Grande also has an incredibly long growing season. Bud break occurs in February in most years with flowering in May and harvest in late September; the area is classified as cool Mediterranean.
These weather factors combined with the soil types—continental and marine rocks, greywacke, limestone, shale and volcanic—create wines with great concentration and fresh acidity. The cooler end of the valley is perfect for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and is a good producer of sparkling wines. The warmer, more inland part of the valley is home to some of California’s oldest Zinfandel vines.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy 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. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.