Chardonnay: Varietal of the Month

Marcy Gordon on Aug 26, 2020

Chardonnay is one of the world’s most planted white grapes. Its many styles, from creamy to bright, oaked or unoaked , make it a versatile choice for a variety of pairings. Chardonnay is typically full to medium in body and acidity with low to no tannins. From bold and rich, to lean and lithe it’s guaranteed you’ll find a Chardonnay to suit your palate.

Here are capsule reviews of Chardonnay’s you’ll find along the Wine Road.


Bowman Cellars 2018 Chardonnay Russian River Valley 
On the nose the 2018 Bowman Chardonnay has an unmistakable scent of buttered popcorn that opens up to aromas of fresh baked bread, coconut and an intriguing chalky-peach note. Steady acidity carries the lush flavors of gooseberry, vanilla, apple, straw and tomato leaf to the finish. Pair with something rich such as a lobster risotto.

Chalk Hill 2016 Chardonnay Estate Bottled, Chalk Hill Appellation, Russian River Valley
Focused and polished, the 2016 Chalk Hill Chardonnay is full-bodied and appealing on many levels from start to finish. Rich scents of vanilla, baked apples, and orange blossom lead seamlessly to a lush mouthful of creamy peach and caramelized pineapple. Beautiful balance of fruit and acid shapes this Chardonnay into an instant classic with good aging potential. Indulge with high-low pairing of potato chips and caviar with dollop of crème fraîche.

Dutton Estate 2015 Chardonnay, Kyndall’s Reserve – Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley  
Bright yellow-gold in color, the 2015 Dutton Estate Kyndall’s Reserve Chardonnay is buoyant with aromas of lemon, peach and vanilla butter cream. Upon opening, the flavors continually shift and change, it’s like a DJ scratching a record back and forth and then—BOOM, the groove drops and everything falls in to place. Rich, full, and satisfying it offers a seamless connection between the fruit and acid with a medley of apple, bosc pear, and zesty lemon on the palate. Pair with crab cakes.

Gary Farrell 2017 Chardonnay Russian River Valley, Sonoma 
Pale straw yellow in color, the 2017 Gary Farrell Chardonnay, Russian River Valley is bursting with an intoxicating array of scents from citrus blossoms, jasmine and lilac to creamy white peach. Structured and balanced with great vibrancy, the initial flavors offer bright zesty lime and tropical notes, followed by a soft finish grounded with rich notes of piecrust and crème brulee. Pair with truffle popcorn! A classic deserves a classic.

Jigar 2015 Chardonnay Peters Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma
I’ve always liked Chardonnay, but I do admit I’ve ignored its charms over the past few years. Recently my love for the grape was rekindled by this 2015 Jigar Chardonnay from Peters Vineyard in Russian River Valley. It’s a delightful balance of earthy dried apple and spicy carnation on the nose with a lift of lemon curd and creamy peach on the palate and a pop of acidity on the finish. Nice body with a touch of oak that minds it P’s and Q’s. It definitely punches up in its weight class.

Paradise Ridge 2016 Chardonnay, Bazzano Vineyard, Russian River Valley 
In the glass the 2016 Paradise Ridge Chardonnay, Bazzano Vineyard, Russian River Valley glows pale yellow with a barely there tinge of green at the edge. Bright, clean and lean the aromas are fresh and fruity bursting with green apple, a touch of lanolin and a lovely lingering white floral scent. White peach flavor predominates at the start, and then segues into honeydew with a light lime finish. Pair with a Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese) or Croque Madame, which is essentially the same as Monsieur sandwich but with an egg sunny side up, on top.

Chardonnay in glasses on a counter-with bottles blurred in the background

Sbragia Family Vineyards 2018 Chardonnay Home Ranch Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma
Gosh, this is a nice Chardonnay! Pale straw yellow in the glass, the 2018 Sbragia Chardonnay, Home Ranch Dry Creek Valley presents with butter and vanilla on the nose initially, then gives way to bright notes of lime and mandarin. Full bodied with creamy flavors of white peach, honey, citrus, green apple and tropical fruits make this a pleasant journey from start to finish. Enjoy on its own or break out the Brie and crackers for a simple pairing.

Zialena 2017 Chardonnay, Sonoma County 
Lizzo would like this Juice! Bright, rich and plush, with texture in all the right places, the 2017 Zialena Chardonnay exhibits all the earmarks of a classic. Balanced and integrated it opens with fresh and zesty flavors of tropical citrus and ripe nectarine, then transitions mid-palate to deep notes of toasty marshmallow and butterscotch. Pair with eggplant caponata.  (Ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee….)

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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