Break out of your red wine rut and chill with the Chardonnay of your choice. Chardonnay is a delightful choice for summer sipping—somewhat lighter, softer, and often lower in alcohol content. The three Chardonnays featured here are within the 12.5% to 13.4% range of alcohol by volume. And Chards should be served cold; just so you know.
Starting off big and bold, I selected the Heavyweight Chardonnay 2009 (85% Chardonnay, 10% Dry Chenin Blanc, 5% Marsanne), featuring “Champ” Frankie the Flash on the label. A sip or two of this rich, full-bodied Chardonnay “separates the pretenders from the contenders” proclaims its tasting notes. Filled with light lemony flavors and subtle floral aromas, there’s a delicate touch of oak for palate-pleasing pleasure. Heavyweight is vinted and bottled by White Stone Vineyards, Lodi, California; available at CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room in Tucson for under $15/bottle.
Rich and elegant, the Woodbridge 2010 Chardonnay by Robert Mondavi (76% Chardonnay, 18% French Colombard, 3% Viognier, and 3% Proprietary blend of aromatic varieties) displays notes of delicious tart green apples and a gentle floral undertone. Nuances of apple pie with autumn spices weave through the fruity aromas and flavors, ending in a light creamy oak finish. Smoother than most Chardonnays I’ve enjoyed, its mouth-filling richness is balanced with natural acidity—the oak aging enriches this wine’s texture and adds just a hint of sweet vanilla and spice. Woodbridge Chardonnay is the perfect choice for sitting and sipping with friends or to pair. Be creative—if you like the food, go for it, there are no rules. Available retail for about $8/bottle.
For a totally different Chardonnay, try the Big House Unchained Naked Chardonnay 2010. No oak here! It’s described as “naked as a jaybird” without the confines of oak barrels. Big House veered off the California standard by using stainless steel tank fermentation, allowing the true fruit character of the Chardonnay grape to explode. Green apple and hints of pear on the nose is followed up with vibrant, “criminally” crisp and bright tropical fruit. Perfect with goat cheese or poultry, this unoaked Chardonnay would pair well with scallops, pork tenderloin, roasted chicken, or fresh pasta primavera. Available in both 750ml bottle ($10) and an eco-friendly premium wine cask (equivalent of four bottles) for $22.
Check out an earlier Pour Me Some Grapes blog on flipflop Chardonnay—a medium-bodied winner with creamy, toasted oak notes.
As you can see, Chardonnays can be all over the board with aromas, tastes, and finishes—what better time than these sizzling summer evenings to explore chilled Chards.
Cheers (and keep cool)!