Feature Coverage

The State of Chardonnay Is Good

“No grape endures as much stylistic shifting as chardonnay, whose buttery, oak-driven side appeases the New World masses while critics rave about its Old World potential for bracing acidity and revelatory minerality. Today, countless California winemakers are discovering the sweet spot between those two extremes, so the state of chardonnay — especially from the Central Coast, where growing conditions are ideal — is extremely good, arguably better than ever before.

“The best place to test that theory is this weekend at the Dolphin Bay Resort in Pismo Beach, where winemakers from the Napa Valley to Santa Barbara County and beyond will be on hand to pour their best bottles, quite often offering completely distinct styles made by the same winery. Among the dinners and grand tastings, there’s an educational panel on Saturday morning (moderated by yours truly) aimed at understanding how the grape is grown in a changing, climatically screwy world.

“A globe- and generation-spanning collaboration between California’s Hyde family and Burgundy, France’s legendary Aubert de Villaine of Burgundy, France (considered by many the best winemaker in the universe), HdV produces wines with tongue-tantalizing acidity, built, like Burgundy’s best whites, for long-term aging though excellent now. ‘I believe various California chardonnay producers are becoming more comfortable with their expectations of what chardonnay can be (and will be) from their respective vineyard sites,’ said president A.J. Fairbanks. ‘I see a gradual evolution where producers are allowing chardonnay to represent their vineyards, not their cellar. Ultimately, this leads to wines composed of the vineyard attributes allowing to better understand what chardonnay can truly be in California.'”

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Matt Kettman, Thursday, May 15, 2014
The State of Chardonnay Is Good