California makes a lot of different varieties of white varietals and white blends, but it is chardonnay that is queen of the pack. It is by far the most-planted grape in California – almost 100,000 acres and counting – and Americans bought a whopping 55 million cases of it last year.Moreover, of all table wines purchased in the United States last year – red or white – one out of every four bottles is a California chardonnay.
In spite of people who rail against chardonnay, it remains capable of making the best and more-variable wines available. Here is a sampling of California chardonnays, with a little company from its friends.
The Other Guys “White Knight” Lodi Savignon Blanc 2014 ($10). Spicy, fruity with some dried wood notes, moderately heavy, emphasizing sauvignon’s floral side.
The Other Guys “White Knight” Clarksburg Viognier 2014 ($13). A little creamy, but good acidity to balance the floral flavors; also hints of spruce.
Tom Gore California Chardonnay 2014 ($14). A mellow chard of moderate weight with some butter, mint and cream flavors.
SLO Down “Broken Dreams” California chardonnay 2013 ($18). Walks the line between being fruity/creamy and smoky/savory.
True Myth “Paragon” Edna Valley Chardonnay 2014 ($18). Mellow green fruits paired with a tart body – also food friendly.
Barrel + Ink “Impressante” California White wine 2014 ($28). Part of a series available on Barrel + Ink’s website pairing a designer with a winemaker. This blend, led by viognier, sauvignon blanc and semillon, is a lot like Bordeaux blend that is good, but not great; harmonious, but not complex.
Clos Pegase “Mitsuko’s Vineyard” Carneros chardonnay 2012 ($30). Buttery, fresh-corn aromas and flavors with soft, rounded floral notes.
Jordan Russian River Chardonnay 2014 ($30). Great food wine – crisp, green fruit with a very lean profile.
Artesa Napa Valley chardonnay 2012 ($40). Very nice, with good balance between apple fruitiness and creamy barrel notes.
La Follette “Sangiacomo” Sonoma Coast chardonnay 2013 ($42). Nice combination of tart, fresh, green apples and creamy oak flavors – very enjoyable.