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WindRacer Anderson Valley Chardonnay 2013
Surrounded by redwood forests and often blanketed in chilly, ocean fog, the Anderson Valley is one of California’s most picturesque appellations. During the growing season, moist, cool, late afternoon air flows in from the Pacific Ocean along the Navarro River and over the valley's golden, oak-studded hills. High and low temperatures can vary as much as 40 or 50 degrees within a single day, allowing for slow and gentle ripening of grapes, which will in turn create elegantly balanced wines.
The Anderson Valley is best known for Pinot Noir made in a range of styles from delicate and floral to powerful and concentrated. Chardonnay also shines here, and both varieties are often utilized for the production of some of California’s best traditional method sparkling wines. The region also draws inspiration from Alsace and produces excellent Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.
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.