world chardonnay day

World Chardonnay Day with Steve and Dan

world chardonnay dayCalifornia Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger celebrates World Chardonnay Day with a selection of Chards and Rosés.

Dan has brought two Chardonnays, three Rosés and a mystery wine from Dan’s cellar. The first tasting is called Samur, and it’s a 2022 Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley. The producer is Arnaud Lambert. It is on the sweet side, a “patio wine” says Dan. The region is south-east of Paris. It starts on the Atlantic coast and follows the river east over 100 miles.

Next, they taste a 2022 Knuttel Family Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. Bill Knuttel was the winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyards for a long time. This wine won a gold medal at the recent Press Democrat wine competition. It has a bit of both rich and tart flavors.

“Sonoma County makes better Chardonnay than just about any American wine region.” -Dan Berger.

There are so many sub-regions of Sonoma County that produce different styles of Chardonnay.

The Wine Market Right Now

Wine sales are down. Why, everyone asks? Is it because millennials have more options for beverages than ever before? Within the last 6 months, the craft brewing industry has collapsed, and sales of wine are flat but not off. It is more seasonal than beer. Beer sells year-round, but wine has summertime specialties like Rosés. When the weather turns hot, everybody wants Rosé. Red wine is not a summertime wine, although Pinot Noir is “going nuts” while zinfandel sales are flat. Maybe that’s because people are backing off the high alcohol wines. Other varietals are getting more attention, relatively speaking, such as Syrah, Grenache and many more.

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Dan describes Chardonnay as kind of neutral flavored, as a grape, it really doesn’t have a lot of flavor. It is sort of citrussy and fresh, but not always. If harvested late, it can be rich and bold. But it is a clean canvas for a winemaker. Since Chardonnay doesn’t have very much by itself, if it is properly treated in the vineyard and in the winery, then in the barrel, everything you do can change the wine. From year to year, what style does mother nature allow a winemaker to make that year?  Dan notes three types, from three Sonoma County regions, Petaluma Gap, Russian River Valley and Bennet Valley. Petaluma Gap has wind and Russian River Valley has fog. Both conditions slow the ripening so the grape stay on the vines a bit longer. This is also true of Bennet Valley, in Sonoma County. Dry Creek Valley can also produce some great Chardonnay, although it is better known for other varietals.

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A German Chardonnay

Next is a 2021 Chardonnay from Germany. Chardonnay has appeared in Germany only in the last ten years, as climate change has made Germany warmer. In the future some vineyards that produce Riesling will probably be converted to Chardonnay. They are even making Chapagne-style wines in England now, which was impossible before the warming of the climate.

Rosés too, today

Rosés became popular after stainless steel tanks were developed that allowed winemakers to keep the temperature down during winemaking. The first tasting is Campuget, a Rosé from France, very dry with a trace of sugar. Another is a 2022 Mas de Gourgonnier. (Mas is an old French word for a farm. -ed. note)

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