Last Thursday evening I had the pleasure of participating in Wente Vineyard’s ‘Summer Chardonnay’ TasteLive event with fifth-generation winemaker Karl Wente and special guest Kimberly Charles. This virtual tasting utilized Ustream streaming video, which when combined with the TasteLive platform, heightens the tasting experience. Wente Vineyards, founded in 1883, is located in California’s Livermore Valley and farms nearly 3,000 acres of estate vine plantings between the Livermore Valley and Monterey. In 1936, Wente produced the first California wine to be labeled Chardonnay. There is also a popular and historic Chardonnay clone named after Wente that’s used by a number of California’s top Chardonnay producers. I’ve enjoyed wines from Wente Vineyards in the past and they consistently manage to offer good quality wines at affordable prices. For this tasting, we had the opportunity to sample four Chardonnay wines from Wente Vineyard’s portfolio. See the wines and my impressions below.
Summer Chardonnay with Wente Vineyards
1) 2010 Eric’s Small Lot Chardonnay - Low production [100 cases], hence the name, this 100% stainless example offers vibrant tree fruit and Asian pear aromas with a touch of fresh-squeezed lime. On the palate the wine is balanced, bright, and refreshing -- perfect for summer sipping and capable of being paired with a wide variety of foods. (13.5% ABV, SRP $21.99)
2) 2009 Morning Fog Chardonnay - This is a very popular style of Chardonnay -- 50% of the wine was aged in neutral oak (1yr to 4yr) and the remainder in stainless. When done right, you get the richness of the fruit, sweet barrel and baking spice, yet good crisp and balancing acidity. It’s the best of both “Chardonnay” worlds. Inviting aromas of green apple, nutmeg, melon/guava, and baking spice fill the nose. The palate offers tree and tropical fruit flavors with notes of honey and spice with faint butterscotch notes in the bright (acid) finish. Very good QPR wine. (13.5% ABV, SRP $12.99)
3) 2009 Riva Ranch Chardonnay - This wine offers inviting aromas of baked apples, spiced pear, melon, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla with buttered toast overtones. Moderately complex, this wine offers layered flavors, a luscious mouth-feel, and a lasting spice-driven finish. Big production at 70K cases, but solid quality at an affordable price for this style of Chardonnay. (13.5% ABV, SRP $19.99)
4) 2009 Nth Degree Chardonnay - Elegantly layered with notes of rich fruit, baking spice, butter and toasted oak. On the palate, the wine delivers a full, round texture, yet good acidity, and a rich mouth-feel, with a smooth lingering finish. Wonderful nose and mouth feel to this wine. (14.2% ABV, SRP: Club member only selection)
In closing, if you’re a member of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) Club, give Wente a try. I find most people don’t agree with a certain “style” of Chardonnay and end up writing the grape variety off altogether. Wente makes at least four different Chardonnay wines that are fairly diverse and I’m sure one, if not all, will fit your fancy. Cheers!
Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come!
CLICK HERE to visit Wente Vineyard's website.
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