Great American Chardonnay Wines - THEGRAPE

Great American Chardonnay Wines

Did You Know??? White wine is more popular than red wine and Chardonnay is not only the most popular white but also the world’s most popular wine? Well, we’d like to share a series of amazing, hand crafted Chardonnay’s, produced right here in the Western United States. We’ll begin by exploring 3 delicious Chardonnay’s from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. After Oregon we’ll travel to the Santa Cruz Mountains to discover 3 delicious Chardonnay wines, before traveling to Napa Valley to discover 3 more delicious Chardonnays. Lastly, we travel around California to discover 4 more delicious Chardonnay wines worth your time and money.


Part 1: Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Our journey begins at the Chehalem Vineyard with the 2012 vintage Inox Chardonnay ($19, 14.1%): The folks at Chehalem have expressed great excitement with this vintage; even suggesting this may be their best INOX Chardonnay EVER! Because 2012’s weather was more than ideal and the winemaker’s expertise using stainless steel aging, it would be difficult for anyone to argue. A bountiful range of aromas includes shortbread, vanilla nougat, orange blossom and white pepper. This is followed by the thirst quenching flavors of Asian pear, lemon curd, white peach, and green tea. Enjoy a glass with your favorite fish, poultry and cheese plates.

Next we have the 2012 Adelsheim Chardonnay  ($22, 13.5%): Having introduced a variety of Chardonnay clones to the region in 1989, David Adelsheim’s efforts represent the best of Oregon’s wine country. The combination of steel and barrel fermentation shows an unmatched precision producing flavors of pear, white peach, star fruit and kiwi. Pair this chardonnay with your favorite seafood, poultry dishes or cheeses, like gruyère.

Our last selection is the 2011 Bergstrom Old Stones Chardonnay  ($35, 13.4%): While a long winter and low yields may have forced the hands of others, winemaker Josh Bergstrom shined, producing a delicious Chardonnay that drinks as well tomorrow as it does a decade from now. Aromas include lime blossom, lemon pastry, saffron and other sweet baking spices. Flavors include lemon, lime and tangerine all combining to a blast reminiscent of your favorite citrus-y, sweet candy. Like our previous Chardonnay’s, Bergstrom should also be enjoyed with your favorite seafood, poultry or cheese.

Next we travel to the Santa Cruz Mountains to discover 3 more delicious Chardonnay’s worth your time and money.


Part 2: Santa Cruz Mountains

In Part 1 we explored Chardonnay wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In Part 2 of 4 in the “Discovering Great American Chardonnays” series we head south to explore 3 delicious white wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

We begin with Arnot-Roberts Trout Gulch Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay 2012 ($33, 13% alcohol): Nathan Roberts and Duncan Meyers, The Chronicle’s 2012 winemakers of the year, found a gem in this loamy site near Aptos, outside Santa Cruz. It’s a sweet spot for the grape, especially in this new release, one that preserves astonishing acidity to match a dense mouthful of fruit: lime and nectarine, with a charming herbal aspect, like yerba buena, and stark salinity. The right mix of textural flesh and mineral power.

Next we have Varner Bee Block Spring Ridge Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay 2011 ($38, 13.2%): The typically ripest parcel of the Varner brothers’ pristinely farmed estate outside Portola Valley did well in this forthcoming release from a cold vintage. There’s an edgy mineral aspect to the Bee’s plusher fruit: quince, tarragon and Charentais melon. A richness is there, too, but since it’s a bit wound-up, another six months in the bottle wouldn’t hurt.

Our last selection is a 2010 Chardonnay from Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains ($60, 14.4%): Ridge’s lesser known but monumental efforts with white wine paid off again in 2010. The savory, smoky American oak aspect is on full display, with tons of butterscotch, ripe quince, almond paste – balanced by perfectly integrated acidity and an intense Monte Bello mineral freshness. Lavish as can be, but all muscle and no fat.

Next we travel to Napa Valley to discover 3 more delicious Chardonnay’s worth your time and money.


Part 3: Napa Valley

In Part 2 we explored Chardonnay wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains. In Part 3 of 4 in the “Discovering American Chardonnays” series we head north to explore 3 delicious white wines from Napa Valley region, one of the 8 wine capitals of the world.

We begin with 2011 Enfield Wine Co. Heron Lake Vineyard Wild Horse Valley Chardonnay ($32, 13.4%): Another curious spot for the grape. John Lockwood, who spent years working with Failla’s Ehren Jordan, tapped quarter-century old vines in this little known corner at Napa’s eastern edge for a great victory of texture in a cold year. Native barrel fermentation and a 16-month spell in mostly older oak brought out a dense, rich set of flavors – dried pear, tangerine and toffee – to match the wine’s great innate tension.

Next we have 2012 Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley Chardonnay ($25, 13.5%): Napa’s Steve Matthiasson farms this vineyard just behind his house in the Oak Knoll area, a sort of annex to eastern Carneros. It’s a bit quiet but showing pretty lemon, wintergreen and wax bean elements, and a heathery, herbal side. Get some and keep it for a couple months; by crab season, its deeper flavors should be shining.

Our last selection is a 2011 Chardonnay  White Rock Estate Napa Valley ($30, 14.1%): Christopher Vandendriessche barrel ferments his family’s estate grapes, grown just north of the city of Napa, in relatively old French oak and with only a bit of malolactic fermentation to soften them. There’s big, tactile structure here, all lemon rind and bright mineral, with subtle citrus flavors that emerge after time in the glass.

Next we travel around California to discover 4 more delicious Chardonnay wines worth your time and money.


Part 4: Other Notable CA Wine Regions

In Part 3 we explored Chardonnay wines from the famed region of Napa Valley. With Part 4 of 4 in the “Discovering American Chardonnays” series we head north to explore 4 delicious white wines from various California wine regions.

2011 Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Alexander Valley Chardonnay ($24, 14.1%): More Cabernet country than Chardonnay, but the Stuhlmuller family and winemaker Leo Hansen (who makes also wine under the Leo Steen label) present a strong case for the grape in Alexander Valley. Partial skin contact and native-yeast fermentation help provide a power here that matches its richness. Pear drop, cantaloupe and tangy citrus match a great pastry-cream finish.

2011 Iron Horse Rued Clone Green Valley of Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($48, 12.9%): The Sterlings, better known for sparkling wine, have long prized their Rued clone planting near Sebastopol, a local cultivar that reveals an exotic floral side. Finger lime and lilac accents mix with cheery pear blossom and Fuji apple flavors. Bright and showing an almost chewy texture.

2011 Scribe Estate Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($45, 12.5%): The Mariani family has found a rapid following for the efforts from its estate outside the town of Sonoma, and this sleek effort is their best Chardonnay yet. A tangy side pierces its ripe pear and funky membrillo flavors. Best for early drinking, but totally charming.

2012 Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay ($33, 13%): This project from Charles Banks, Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr keeps setting new standards for Santa Barbara Chardonnay. From several sites in the county, this shows the ample fruit of an abundant vintage and the intense crunchy mineral aspect that always defines this wine. Cameo apple, green pear, zesty lemon and a subtle tinge of savory oak.


Thank you for joining us we traveled through Oregon’s Willamette Valley and California’s Wine Countries to discover 13 delicious Chardonnay wines worth your time and money. To find delicious food and wine pairings or reviews, prices and wine ratings on these and other grape certified wines, visit Cheers!


Thank you for joining this edition of’s Video Wine Library.

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