What is it:
Genetic analysis has revealed that Chardonnay is the offspring of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. She has 20 or so siblings, including fellow Burgundy dwellers Aligoté and Gamay. It's unclear about exactly when this happened but it was at least 400 years ago.
How does it taste:
Chardonnay doesn't have a ton of character on its own, but when it is planted in the right soils (clay over limestone seems to work pretty well) it can produce remarkable wines. In warmer climates such as California and Australia it can be intensely tropical and rich. On the other hand in an old-world region like Chablis the wines can be very lean and salty and smokey.
Matthiasson Wines, Chardonnay, "Linda Vista Vineyard," Napa Valley, California, 2013
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At this point you have probably heard of Steve Matthiasson. He has made waves throughout the American wine scene over the last several years with a series of bottlings that challenge the common conception of what California wines taste like.
The whites are made from varieties not often seen in the US such as Ribolla Gialla as well as Chardonnay and have great tension and energy. The reds are made from Bordeaux varieties and are delicate and perfumed, a throwback to the Cabernet based wines made in California in the 1970s.
We love Steve's wines at Blue Ribbon and we buy all we can get. The staff favorite has to be this week's Wine of the Week though, the 2013 "Linda Vista Vineyard" Chardonnay. "Linda Vista" is Steve's home vineyard. The house he and his family share is across the street. The soils are a classic blend of clay and limestone and the steady breezes keep the fruit cool and dry under the warm Napa sun.
The wine itself sees no toasty new oak barrels, but rather only older used barrels. This leaves the drinker with a lovely transparent version of Napa Chardonnay, with classic lemon and pineapple notes balanced by a grippy mineral character that makes this a great partner for a meal. Not to mention the fact that wine of this quality from this part of California is often 2 or 3 times the price.
We hope you will join us all this week to share a glass (or bottle) of Matthiasson and celebrate the sea change happening in California viticulture!