The Colorado Springs Gazette
by Rich Mauro
July 15, 2020
Chardonnay’s place at the pinnacle of popularity in the U.S. has lasted for nearly four decades. It is the most planted grape and No. 1 in sales volume. Its adaptability to different growing conditions and winemaking styles at least partly explains this.
There was a period of winemaking excess, primarily characterized by what is now considered overuse of oak. This eventually spurred a bit of a backlash, particularly among proponents urging consumers to drink ABC – Anything but Chardonnay. But consumers didn’t listen and kept drinking all styles.
More recently, winemakers have found a better balance. With Burgundy as the benchmark, traditional practices — use of new oak barrels for fermentation and aging, malolactic fermentation, and aging on the lees — employed judiciously and tailored to the quality of the fruit, can produce delightfully enticing and complex wines.
This produces in the best chardonnays (in my opinion) wines of lush texture with vibrant acidity accented variously with notes of cream, butter, toast, vanilla, baking spice, and nuts. The fruit will be intense and the grape’s natural citrus may be joined with apple, pear, peach, or tropical fruit, depending on the climate of the vineyard and the ripeness at harvest.
The wines below (in order of personal preference) deftly walk the line between opulence and freshness, pure fruit and richness, delivering complexity with oak influence more as seasoning than dominant flavoring.
2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley, toasty oak, rich fruit, drinks fresh but soft.”