Portions of this story appeared in West Hawaii Today, May 7, 2019
This Mother’s Day knock her socks off with a stunning selection from one of the most popular wine varieties in the world, Chardonnay. I love a good glass of Chardonnay, as the international treasure is approachable, pairs well with food, is produced around the world, and when done well, can be quite extraordinary. All available throughout Hawaii Island, or here via Wine.com.
Chardonnay can run the gamut from quite clean, crisp and fruity to rich, luscious and well-rounded. The lighter styles, like a refreshing Chablis from Burgundy, to oak-aged, creamy options, like popular selections from Napa and Sonoma, like Rombauer ($40), Cakebread ($50), and Raeburn ($20), deliver consistent elements in their wines, even with their unique characteristics, melding juicy citrus, orchard, tropical, and stone fruit with bright acidity, keeping the wines balanced.
For sparkling lovers, look no further than Domaine Carneros Le Reve Blanc de Blanc ($115), 100% Chardonnay from their sustainably farmed Carneros estate. The sparkler is ideal enjoyed on its own, or pairing with anything from lobster and crab, to poultry or pate, highlighting creme brulee, honeysuckle and toasted spice notes.
On the lighter side, ideal for shellfish and seafood, consider FEL Anderson Valley Chardonnay, highlighting the purity of cool-climate fruit with vibrant acidity, revealing lemon balm, verbena, and tropical quince; mineral intense, citrus fruit filled Stony Hill Chardonnay ($50) from Spring Mountain; Heitz Napa Chardonnay ($30) layers Meyer lemon with toasted spice; South Africa’s Capensis ($80) revealing wet stone minerality and a hint of salinity with ripe Asian pear; Clos Du Val Carneros Chardonnay ($40) melds Granny Smith apple with clove spice enhancing the structured palate; Il Borro “Lamelle” ($30) from Tuscany, highlights lemon blossom, apricot and apple; Decoy Sonoma Chardonnay ($25) with tart green apple and honeysuckle; and Rodney Strong “Chalk Hill” Chardonnay ($22) with crushed stone and pear notes.
With a focus on freshness, while maintaining a nicely rounded mouthfeel, Grgich Hills Napa Valley Chardonnay ($45) layers wet stone, green apple and lemon peel notes. Subtle, yet sultry, Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay ($60) seamlessly melds mineral-intense earthiness with juicy ripe fruit for an overall pleasing, effortless wine with melon, nectarine, honeysuckle and fig notes.
Adelsheim “Caitlin’s Reserve” ($40) and their new, Staking Claim Chehalem Mountain Chardonnay ($35), both are made in a French style from Dijon clones, telling the story of the land, highlighting freshness, bright acidity, earthy minerality, and gorgeous Willamette Valley, Oregon fruit.
Cool evening breezes off Sonoma’s Russian River gives grapes a break from warm summer days, ensuring ripe fruit maintains freshness, as revealed in Jordan’s Russian River Chardonnay with kumquat and lilikoi notes; Gehricke Russian River Chardonnay ($32) displaying tropical pineapple and mango with creamy vanilla; and Bravium Russian River Chardonnay ($22) highlighting golden apple, toasted biscuits, and lemon meringue.
Moving to the slightly richer options, perfect for pairing with roasted chicken or creamy pasta dishes, consider Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay ($35) revealing nectarine and white plum, with hints of spiced pineapple; Frank Family Napa Valley Chardonnay ($35) with lemon leaf, golden apple, and warm spice; Brewer Clifton Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay ($35), revealing honeydew melon and candied ginger. Stoller Reserve Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($35) melds honeycomb with flintstone minerality; and Hahn “SLH” Chardonnay ($25), with peach, banana, and vanilla.
Jackson Family Legacy Chardonnay ($75) from the Field Stone Vineyard in Alexander Valley delivers the dream of founder Jess Jackson to create age-worthy, elegant Chardonnay with a sense of place, enhancing a delicate, inviting palate. Jackson Family Stonestreet Estate, on the western ridge of the Mayacamus Mountains overlooking Alexander Valley shines as a leading example of biodiversity in the region as the 5000+ acre estate, of which only 900 acres are planted to vines, thrives thanks to the wildlife, including California’s famous black bears and cougars, flowing streams, and natural forests filled with ancient oak trees. All of these elements ensure the 235 individual blocks of vineyards showcase a sense of place. Stonestreet Upper Barn Chardonnay ($100) is 100% barrel fermented with native yeasts and undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation in barrel. The resulting wine is quite volumptuous, rich and revealing with creamy lemon custard, ripe golden pear and banana notes.
Barrel fermented Clos Pegase “Hommage” Chardonnay ($45) from cool Carneros highlights ripe melon and Meyer lemon with layers of toasted spice, coconut, and freshly baked baguette. Textured and inviting, Sonoma-Loeb Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay ($35) delivers notes of mandarin, tropical banana, warm baking spice, and creamy baked flan.
Coastal breezes off the Pacific ensures textured Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Chardonnay ($60) maintains freshness, creating a complex, distinct, lingering palate, sure to make any mom swoon this Mother’s Day.
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