by Richard Mauro, April 13, 2015
“Chardonnay has a lengthy record as America’s favorite white wine. Its deserved reputation for greatness (particularly the white wines of Burgundy) is at least partly responsible for that popularity. Another reason is it can be made in different styles to appeal to varying tastes and occasions. Regardless of style, chardonnays typically offer ripe fruit flavors of citrus, apple, pear or tropical, and sometimes melon or fig. Many wineries attempt to emulate the richness and depth associated with Burgundy, the benchmark for the grape. It used to be common in California for wineries to go to extremes, employing full malolactic fermentation (converts sharper malic acid to richer lactic acid) and 100 percent fermentation and aging in new oak barrels. Such wines are rare today. But the wines below still use significant amounts of these to great effect, deftly walking the line between richness and freshness.
Two single-vineyard wines from MacRostie – the 2012 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay, from an intemperate location in the Sonoma Coast, and the 2012 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay, from a historic and prized vineyard in Carneros – are rich and full-bodied with oak influences but still loads of pure fruit.
More wineries are getting better at balancing the use of oak barrels and malolactic fermentation to complement quality fruit with the sweet, spicy or toasty elements from oak more as seasoning than as dominant characteristics. Generally, this means less oak, less new oak and less time overall in barrel. Many only undergo partial malolactic fermentation. These are all recommended:”
2012 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
2012 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay