A couple weeks ago, I received a message via Twitter from a friend that read, “I know how much you love Chardonnay, you shouldn’t miss this.” There was a link included in the message that took me to the website for the SF Chef’s festival and a list of wine-related events (including a session on the history of Chardonnay in California).
While I appreciated the info, my first inclination was to defend my wine drinking sensibility, because I don’t love all Chardonnay.
If this friend had had accused me of loving White Burgundy, I would have said, “Yes, you’re absolutely right.”
Because California Chardonnay can be a bit of a mixed bag. If you read my earlier post, “Just the right amount of oak”, you’ll remember that I prefer Chardonnay when it’s fruit-driven with good acidity and just a kiss of oak—as it is made in Burgundy, France.
I’m glad to report that I am discovering more and more of this balanced style produced here in California. You could call it a conditional love I have for Chardonnay…
The 2010 Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a fun, delightful quaff ($27/bottle). Its complex perfume offers Meyer lemon, key lime, green apple, pear and a whisper of toasty vanilla. With bright minerality and lively acidity, this wine has “cool climate” written all over it and tastes like summertime. Prickly pear, lemon, and pineapple flavors prevail on the palate. This wine is light-bodied and clean, with citrus notes that linger on the tongue until your next sip.
Twenty percent of this wine was fermented in stainless steel, the other 80% was barrel-fermented, but only 20% of the barrels used were new. Also, this wine did not go through malolactic fermentation. The lack of “ML” helps to preserve this wine’s fresh fruit flavors and vivacious acid level; it is a very refreshing and food friendly choice.
It is the perfect wine to sip on it’s own, as I did earlier this week while I prepared dinner. I sautéed corn, spinach, and summer squash separately. Then I whisked three eggs together for an omelette, which unfortunately became scrambled eggs in the pan. I piled the veggies and the eggs into a bowl; it wasn’t as pretty as I had planned. But with a little dill, basil, and goat cheese on top, it tasted great with the Chardonnay.
Seafood (i.e. petrale sole in a beurre blanc sauce or shrimp), creamy risotto or pesto pasta, or a light salad would also pair well with this wine.
Gundlach Bundschu is one of Sonoma’s oldest wineries. They celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2008! They also produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Rosé of Tempranillo, and a signature blend called Mountain Cuvée.
I also had the opportunity to enjoy the 2009 Mountain Cuvée recently. For $24 a bottle, it is a great, easy-drinking red wine that would pair nicely with everything from BBQ ribs to eggplant parmesan. It is a unique blend of 7 varietals (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cab Franc, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and only 1% Malbec). With dark fruit aromas, this palate expresses flavors of black cherry, currant, black licorice and tobacco. This wine has soft tannins, a rich mouthfeel, and a lush medium-plus body. Cocoa and dark berry flavors linger on the finish. This wine will probably improve with 1-2 years of aging, or I would recommend decanting it if you decide to drink it right away.
These two wines were received courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu Winery for sampling purposes. Their wines are distributed throughout the US and they can be ordered directly from their website.
*If you unsure of how to pronounce the name of the winery, think gun-lock-bun-shoe, like the pictures depicted on the cork.