Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The sad state of California chardonnay?

I've had my head down with work and family recently, so I'm grateful to Christopher Watkins over on Ridge's 4488 blog for drawing my attention to Laurie Daniel's piece on California Chardonnay. I found it a little odd that while writing for the San Jose Mercury she managed to cite examples of good Chardonnay from all over the state with the exception of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hardly anyone here is making the "cookie cutter" buttered toast style she was complaining about, and most of them are very reasonably priced.

Now obviously the region boasts two of the finest producers in the world in Mount Eden and Ridge. In the $30-$40 range I'll put Varner and Windy Oaks up against anything else the state can produce. Sarah's Vineyard have two nice examples, one from the Santa Cruz Mountains and another from Santa Clara Valley. Storrs, Fogarty and Beauregard make a range of interesting Chardonnays in the $20-$35 range. Cooper Garrod's Gravel Ridge can often be found around the $16 mark. My local Safeway currently has J Lohr's Riverstone for $9 and Clos LaChance's unoaked Emerald Throated Hummingbird for a little over $6. And all that is just off the top of my head.

So is Californian Chardonnay in a sad state? Not as far as I can see. Maybe you're just tasting the wrong wines.


Wes Barton said...

Don't forget Rhys.

Dave said...

I didn't mention Rhys because it's made in such microscopic quantities; I've heard all sorts of good things about it, but have yet to try it for myself.

Her VineNess said...

Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains rocks, literally! I've tasted Chard from all over the state, and our region practically defines what Burgundian-style Chardonnay is all about. Agree with Dave's list of good examples of local examples of brilliance, and would add to that Alfaro Lindsay Paige and Burrell School. The 2008 Vine Hill made from Stu Miller's fruit is liquid spring sunshine.
I'm actually considering adding another tasting event, similar to Pinot Paradise for Chardonnay.
Maybe we all need to drink a bit more of our back yard offerings!

Dave said...

That sounds like a very good idea, Laura. A Chardonnay Celebration?