Home > Fair, Good, ModGood, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > More Chardonnay Than I Realized

More Chardonnay Than I Realized

I drink Chardonnay from California and while I have bought bottles of Kendall-Jackson, Vintners Reserve from a famous DC merchant, other wines in the $20-$30 range can offer an engaging experience.  Recently both Jenn and I have been enjoying bottle after bottle of 2012 The Ojai Vineyard, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County.  If the name Ojai sounds familiar that could be due to all the press it received as a result of the Wine Writers Symposium, check out Robert Parker Responds to Jon Bonne.  I think this wine will hit its peak towards the end of the year but right now offers up a nice blend of fruit, acidity, oak influence, and presence.  The 2012 Elizabeth Spencer, Special Cuvee, Chardonnay, Mendocino had lots of verve and remained lively for days.  It was a young wine that could use half a year in the cellar but I was attracted to the acidity and tannin combination.  I enjoy tannins in a white wine.  The 2010 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills may at first seem austere but reveals itself to be a careful combination of the savory, tang, acidity, and smoke.  More reflective than quenching but I enjoyed it.  Both Jenn and I liked the 2011 Antica, Chardonnay, Napa Valley on the first night when it had yellow fruit, salivating acidity, and stones but then it kind of fell apart the next night.  Be sure to drink it in one sitting.  The 2012 Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast had yellow tropical fruit, lively acidity, spices, and perhaps a little too much intention for my preference.  I believe there is good diversity in the wines below so try one that sounds most attractive to you.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 The Ojai Vineyard, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County – $25
Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium golden-straw with a nose of Chardonnay and some toast.  In the mouth there was controlled ripeness complemented by nice spices and texture.  With air it took on yellow, juicy fruit, and a vein of baking spices.  There was acidity on the tongue tip and increasing texture that left a persistent aftertaste.   *** Now-2017.


2012 Elizabeth Spencer, Special Cuvee, Chardonnay, Mendocino – $25
Alcohol 14.1%.  The color was a very light straw.  The nose remained subtle with tropical notes and sweet nuts (yup).  The finely textured fruit in the mouth had a core of acidity and pleasing tannins which were ripe and built on the cheeks.  It was somewhat compact to start with but over several days built some roundness to the firm white fruit.  Had lots of verve.  *** Now-2018.


2010 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills – $28
Alcohol 14.0%.  There was a little smoke to the yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the wine had some savory weight, acidity, and grip from the start.  It had tang and freshness combined with weight and an expansive aftertaste.  There was a chalky finish before the acidity hit the back of the throat and the smoke return in the aftertaste.  Deliberate.  *** Now – 2015.


2011 Antica, Chardonnay, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in 30% new French oak then aged for six months on the lees.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a light golden yellow.  The nose was fresh with yellow fruit and underlying toast.  In the mouth the fresh acidity balanced the white and yellow fruit.  The wine showed some density with salivating acidity and some stone notes.  It was best on the first night.  *** Now.


2012 Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast – $25
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, then 12-15% saw oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose bore yellow, tropical aromas that mixed with some toast.  In the mouth was a slightly textured start with a crisp start of yellow fruit that was felt on the tongue tip.  It was round in the mouth, lively on the tongue,  with ripe spices in the finish.  It ended more lush with a tropical hint to the flavors.  ** Now-2015.


2012 Melville, Chardonnay Estate, Santa Rita Hills – $26
Alcohol 14.5%.  This was the most forward with rounder, softer flavors and toast notes.  Not my style.  * Now.


  1. March 22, 2014 at 4:09 am

    Interesting notes – you are lucky to have such a range to taste from.

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