Shutterstock/ Tamara Kulikova
It’s almost impossible, it seems, to write a description of American chardonnays without typing “a-p-p-l-e.” The wine may taste sweet or tart, fresh or dull, ripe or green, but it almost always has apple as the dominant fruit flavor. I expect to see a label one day reading, “Picked fresh from our orchards.”
That said, the five featured here all have their different personalities.
Also featured are two California sauvignon blancs and one a fumé blanc from Robert Mondavi that is absolutely stunning. To round out our interesting — if not always magnificent — eight selections, we’ll start with a Central Coast viognier.
Wild Horse Central Coast Viognier 2014, $17
Winemakers have always struggled making this Rhône Valley white on the West Coast, and there is only mixed success here. It has pleasant floral and fruity tastes (yellow peach, dried apricot), and some interesting savory notes, but it comes up a little short on the finish and a tad dull.
Flora Springs Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $25
Nice, juicy, green flavors, medium tartness, and some mintiness. It’s a touch hot and a little sweet, it seems, in the finish.
Robert Mondavi “To Kalon” Napa Valley Fumé Blanc Reserve 2013, $49
The real deal — a stunningly good wine — big but refined, lots of apricots and peaches, but with a crisp herbal finish.
Gary Farrell Russian River Chardonnay 2014, $34
Creamy with lots of rounded fruit flavors — both crisp and ripe apples, pear, apricot. Quite good.
Gary Farrell “Olivet Lane” Russian River Chardonnay 2014, $45
It’s friendly and toasty without being big. Nice ripe apple flavors.
Galer Estate “Red Lion” Chester, PA, Chardonnay 2014, $25
It has a juicy approach, a little tartness, and flavors of fresh lemon, apples, and a touch of peach — quite enjoyable.
Concannon Monterey County Chardonnay 2013, $20
On the greener edge of chardonnay with a combination of apples and cream.
Paul Hobbs “CrossBarn” Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014, $25
Enjoyable — full, with lots of fresh apple flavors and a hint of extra sweetness at the finish.