Reserve Chardonnay at Bogle Winery in the California Delta

I’m spending my birthday at Bogle Winery, enjoying a bottle of my favorite chardonnay – Bogle’s 2017 Reserve. Even though Bogle wines are distributed worldwide, this family run winery remains almost a hidden gem in the California Delta.

Shaded picnic tables on a wide grassy area, or the patio built under several tall trees, provide the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon picnicking with your favorite people. Bogle’s chardonnay vineyards surround the tasting room and picnic grounds, making this an even better place for me, the Chardygirl, to hang out on this special day.

Despite the fact that I’ve tasted luscious, creamy, complex chardonnays from all over the world, the Bogle Reserve Chardonnay remains one of my favorite.

Bogle’s basic chardonnay is an everyday staple in our household. At $9.00 USD a bottle ($6.75 wine club discount), this chardonnay is also sold in several countries around the world.

The newer Phantom Chardonnay, a mid-point in flavor and price between the classic and the Reserve, $14.00 USD a bottle (or $10.50 with wine club discount) is a favorite with my friends and often served at our dinner parties.

But the Bogle Reserve Chardonnay, at $20.00 USD a bottle ($15.00 wine club discount), never disappoints. Notes of vanilla and toasty oak, flavors of ripe peaches and apricots, this wine finishes long and creamy. Best of all, you can buy it online at Fine Wine Delivery or Advintage in New Zealand. Or contact Bogle directly for options on having it delivered.

However, if you come to California, you must make a side trip to Sacramento. Just 20 minutes south of town, along the meandering Sacramento River, down Highway 160, just outside of Clarksburg, you’ll find Bogle Winery in the midst of the beautiful California Delta. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the turn off to Bogle. In keeping with their humble roots, the sign to the tasting room isn’t very big.

Pack a picnic lunch, enter the tasting room, buy a bottle of the Bogle Reserve Chardonnay, and find out for yourself just how luscious and complex this delightful wine is!

International Chardonnay Day 2019

International Chardonnay Day is coming up on Thursday, May 23rd. To celebrate, I’d like to share a reprint of my favorite chardonnays. You can read that blog from 2017 here. That list hasn’t changed except for adding one – the Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay from my most recent post. I love this chardonnay from Hunter Valley’s Scarborough Winery!

As I travel more of Australia and taste more of these delightful wines, the more time I want to spend in this lovely land of sunshine!

So chardy lovers, raise a glass next week and celebrate International Chardonnay Day! I’ll be thinking of you!

Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay

Image of Scarborough 2013 Chardonnay from their museum collection
Scarbourgh 2013 Chardonnay from their museum collection

On a recent trip to Australia, I had the good fortune to visit the Hunter Valley for a long weekend of wine tasting. And what a gorgeous wine region!

Our first stop was the delightful Scarborough Winery where we were treated to a first class, sit down wine tasting at a linen covered table cloth in their dining room. I fell in love with this winery at first glance. Quiet. Elegant. This was an exceptional wine tasting experience.

Walked through our wine tasting by the super friendly, knowledgeable wine server, we sampled two current release chardonnays from their Classic Range and one from their Obsessive Range. But it was this Classic Yellow Label Scarborough 2013 from their museum collection that caught my attention and came home in my suitcase. (I know. The name “yellow label” conjures up images of another Australian wine that’s not so great. But this Scarborough Yellow Label chardonnay is not related, and it’s delicious!)

Aromas of pear, pineapple, peach and biscuit can be found in the nose. It’s medium bodied with a soft, round finish. Its flavor evokes mild stone fruit, perhaps partly from the peachy aroma. It’s a complex wine that keeps delivering more flavors. The color is golden yellow and the alcohol content is 13.5%. At six years old, this wine doesn’t suffer from its age – it was made to last. Back in 2016, the wine critics were recommending laying it down for a couple of years. Perhaps it’s because it was fermented and aged on lees in French oak for 12 months.

The best part of this wine? It was under $20. Can’t make it to “the Hunter?” Try wine-searcher.com or contact the winery directly. And come back again soon for more wine tasting in Australia…

Nazaaray Chardonnay 2017 from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula

Where have you been Chardy Girl? I’ve been to Australia, sampling chardonnays from one side of the country to the other. And I’m so excited to share more about my adventures!

But today, I want to tell you about a wine I tasted in the Mornington Peninsula just outside of Melbourne, Australia. This is one of the prettiest wine regions in Australia. This area has it all – beaches, sun, and wine tasting.

We rented a house from one of the local wineries in the town of Rosebud – Nazaaray – and they left a bottle of chardonnay for us as a welcome gift. How could they have known?

I employed my favorite wine tasting partner, Gary, and our daughter (who does not like chardonnay!) in sampling this delightful wine. Here are our thoughts:

Australia’s chardonnays are typically lighter in flavor and body than the California chardonnays I’m used to. This one is lightly toasted oak with a hint of vanilla in the nose. So far so good. The body is light, the wine is clean, and the color is pale straw yellow. It has a soft mouth feel with a smooth finish.

My fellow wine drinkers agreed, it’s elegant and clean. It was aged for over 10 months. Malolactic fermentation was part of the process.

The chardonnay sells for $45 Australian dollars or about $32 US dollars. The winery itself is gorgeous. If you find yourself in the Melbourne area, I highly recommend a visit to the Mornington Peninsula. You’ll love the wines, the beauty of this region, and the close proximity of the wineries to each other and to the beach towns of the Peninsula.

Nazaaray Chardonnay 2017 – Mornington Peninsula

Mendocino County – Three Favorite Wineries

Mendocino County in Northern California offers a refreshing change of scenery and pace for wine lovers looking to taste more of California’s bounty. Harder to reach than busy Napa and Sonoma Counties, Mendocino County wineries just feel a little less crowded.

A trip to Mendocino usually means, for me, a weekend away with my sister and our husbands and that makes the winetasting experience so much more fun.

On our last trip, I realized we often return to the same wineries. I’m drawn to the chardonnay, of course, while my sister loves pinot grigio. Although we always try someplace new, these three wineries are my favorite places to drink chardonnay in Mendocino wine region:

Navarro Vineyards and Winery

One of the most beautiful wineries in Mendocino County, Navarro Vineyards, 5601 Highway 128, is a perfect stop for wine lovers. The tasting room is small but the patio and picnic grounds, overlooking the vineyards and surrounding hills, are spacious. Even on weekends, when the winery sees plenty of visitors, there are always adequate picnic tables and comfortable chairs to sit and sip wine.

My sister loves to pull one of the large comfortable wooden chairs close to the pinot grigio grapes planted adjacent to the picnic grounds and talk to them. That’s her favorite Navarro varietal and she thinks it helps them grow. I think she’s crazy but it’s fun!

My sister, Valarie, in the vineyard at Navarro.

I’m all about the chardonnay, obviously, and Navarro sells seven – count them – seven chardonnays! From the 2013 Premiere Reserve to their 2016 Barrel Fermented, all are delicious, making this one of my favorite places to wine taste.

Scharffenberger Winery

The front patio and picnic grounds at Scharffenberger

The second stop we make is Scharffenberger Winery at 850 Highway 128. Scharffenberger’s shaded garden in front of the white house, converted to a tasting room, provides a delightful place to enjoy a picnic and share a bottle of wine. Best known for their sparkling wines, Scharffenberger does make a tasty unoaked chardonnay. But it’s the amazing sparkling chardonnay that draws me back there time and time again.

Husch Winery

And last, I always visit Husch Winery at 4400 Highway 128 in Philo. Around since the early 80s, this unpretentious tasting room is housed in a converted pony barn dating back to the late 1800s. Their chardonnays reflect the typical Mendocino County characteristics for this varietal – luscious, complex and vibrant with flavors. Their 2016 chardonnay boasts pear and apple flavors. The finish is soft. And their prices are easy on the wallet.

Pack a Picnic Lunch and Enjoy the Scenery

So, if you make it up to this neck of the woods, pack a picnic lunch, prepare to slow down and enjoy the scenery. You’ll love the wines and you’ll love delightful Mendocino County.

Navarro Vineyards – 2016 Anderson Valley Chardonnay Premier Reserve and 2016 Mendocino Chardonnay

Because Navarro Vineyards makes so many chardonnays, and my sister was kind enough to give me two bottles out of her wine club shipment, I thought it would be fun to try a couple of their most popular ones in a side by side tasting: 2016 Anderson Valley Chardonnay Premier Reserve and the 2016 Mendocino Chardonnay.

Navarro 2016 Anderson Valley Premier Reserve and 2016 Mendocino Chardonnay

2016 Anderson Valley Premier Reserve

The 2016 Anderson Valley Premier Reserve was made from grapes grown in six different blocks from three vineyard sites. The Navarro philosophy is “complexity is more interesting than a singular flavor,” and I agree.

Light straw in color with hints of poached pear in the nose, I found this wine to be surprisingly delicate, almost elegant. Despite the use of French oak barrels and a primary and secondary malolactic fermentation, this is not a pronounce, oaky, buttery chardonnay. I tasted flavors of pear, red apple crisp and crème brulee. 13.9% in alcohol, the mouthfeel was soft and light on the palate.

This chardonnay would pair well with grilled lobster or a roasted chicken with thyme and oregano.

The wine retails for $27.00 for 750 ml or $15 for the smaller 375 ml. For people who can’t get enough of this chardonnay, it even comes in a magnum for $55.00

2016 Mendocino Chardonnay

The 2016 Mendocino Chardonnay was also pale yellow in color. Produced from nine separate lots from four vineyards sites in the warmer climate of Potter Valley, only 25% of this chardonnay went through malolactic fermentation. Higher in acidity than the Premier Reserve, this chardonnay is lighter, crisper, yet more fruit driven, and thus more flavorful to my taste. I detected hints of stone fruit in the nose, lemon and pineapple in the taste. With a polished style, lighter mouthfeel and softer finish than the Premier Reserve, this easy drinking wine pairs well with food.

I recommend a soft creamy cheese like brie, grilled trout, or even a pasta with a light cream sauce to pair with the Mendocino Chardonnay.

Only available in one size, 750 ml, the 2016 Mendocino Chardonnay retails for $22.00

Lucky for me, Gary and I are headed to Navarro over this long holiday weekend. I not only get to replace the two bottles we just drank, but I get to sample the other five wines on their tasting menu.

Have a happy and delicious Labor Day weekend!

One Napa and Two Sonoma Chardonnays – Wine Tasting with Friends

Wine tasting is more fun with others and I’ve always wanted to do one of my blogs with a group of friends. On a recent trip to the Sacramento Delta (a relatively unknown wine growing region in Northern California), we got the opportunity to do this “group blog” when my good friend Rebecca surprised us with three lovely bottles of chardonnay for wine tasting.

The first was from Roche Winery and Vineyards, a chardonnay out of Sonoma County’s Carneros region. The second was a Darioush chardonnay from the renowned Napa Valley. And the third, from Wattle Creek Winery, was a Sonoma Coast chardonnay.

With glass in hand, sitting on the deck of a rented house overlooking Steamboat Slough, on a warm Sacramento Delta summer afternoon, Rebecca, Terry, Mike, and I held the first official Chardygirl tasteoff!


Roche Winery and Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay Carneros, French Oak Reserve

Roche has a tasting room in the small town of Sonoma (see my previous blog about staying in Sonoma and wine tasting around the plaza) or visit their new winery just south of town. The wine retails for around $38.00, has 14.5% in alcohol, and is highly rated in Sonoma Magazine. Here is what our group had to say about this delicious bottle:

Pam (the “Chardygirl”) – Although the bouquet was light, the flavor was complex and well-balanced. I tasted a bit of butterscotch and caramel in the flavor and it ended with a lovely, long finish.

Rebecca- Detected butterscotch in the nose with a hint of lemon. The finish was on the drier side, but beautifully balanced. She would serve it with a delicate white fish, served with a lemon sauce.

Mike – Found it to be soft and delicate, with more sophisticated, nuanced flavors. For his taste, he thought it was slightly on the sweet, fruity side.

Terry – Detected a little citrus and fresh cut grass in the nose, melon in the flavor with a layer of honeydew.


Darioush 2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay

Although the 2015 chardonnay is no longer available, it originally sold for approximately $48. Their wines are pretty consistent from year to year and the 2016 is available now for the same price. This chardonnay is from their Signature Series. It was pale straw color and 14.8% in alcohol. Here are what the tasters had to say about this delightful chardonnay:

Rebecca – Liked it from the first sip through to the finish. She found it to be creamy with a good mouthfeel. She tasted hints of apple in the wine.

Mike – Also found it be creamy but with high acidity, giving it a bit of citrus in the finish. He tasted hints of grapefruit.

Pam – I smelled pear and vanilla in the nose, two of my favorite characteristics in a chardonnay. It was lighter in body, elegant, with bright acidity.

Terry – Also thought it had acidity in the finish, almost a bit tart, but overall called it a “pretty nice wine.”


Wattle Creek Winery 2015 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

Wattle Creek has a tasting room in San Francisco’s Ghiradelli Square, introduced to us by the lovely Rebecca. They also have a winery in Sonoma County. This wine is light in color and 14.5% in alcohol. Although it’s barrel fermented, it’s not pronounced or overly oaked. Comments from the tasters:

Pam – I found it to be soft in the nose, with scents of crème brulee and vanilla bean. The wine was round, yet subtle.

Rebecca – She tasted layers of lemon and green apple and found it to be polished, with a lighter, subtler mouthfeel.

Mike – He thought it was a little effervescent, something the rest of us did not pick up on. He tasted lemon and found it to be less complex than the previous two wines.

Terry – He found this wine to be easy drinking, not overwhelming, subtler with a lighter mouthfeel. He thought it would go well with food as opposed to drinking it alone.


You know what they say about wine tasting? Everyone’s palate is unique and it’s easy for four different people to taste something different in the same wine. That sure held true for all three of these wines!

So stay tuned for more reviews. We’re getting ready to do a side-by-side comparison of two Navarro chardonnays from Mendocino and review an Australian chardonnay with a rather unusual name.

Be sure to sign up for my distribution list or follow me on Twitter (@chardygirl) and I’ll let you know when the next blog is out! Until then, I’ll keep on the hunt for the “perfect” chardonnay.

Sonoma Plaza – A Great Way to Sample Sonoma County Wines – Part 4

Welcome back to the final blog in a series on small town Sonoma wine tasting. If you missed the prior articles, you can catch up here.

With 25 tasting rooms right in town, it was hard to choose and certainly not enough time to cover them all! But I have one more to share with you, located in the Ledson Hotel, on 1st Street East. The lobby of this historic hotel transforms into a comfortable lounge around a glowing fire (most welcome on the cold day we were there) and a long bar with chairs along the side wall. The tasting room offers samples of wines from Ledson Winery and Zina Hyde, with plenty of chardonnay options.

My favorite was the Ledson 2015 Russian River Chardonnay Reserve. A little pricey at $52.00, but this full bodied, creamy wine was delicious with subtle notes of toasted oak in the nose. The palate was layered with hints of crème brulee and butterscotch, typical characteristics of a Russian River chardonnay.

Two More Restaurants Worth Trying

In the first three blogs, I covered some excellent restaurants, especially La Salette and the famous Girl and The Fig. To add to the list, here are two more I would recommend:

Mary’s Pizza Shack at 8 West Spain street, a chain restaurant in Northern California, might not be your top choice in this town full of gourmet restaurants. But the fire on the patio drew us in on a cold, rainy day and we’re glad we stopped by. The menu is full of Italian and comfort food options, but the wedge salad was one of the best we’ve ever eaten. Drizzled with Italian and chunky blue cheese dressing, topped with tomatoes and bacon, focaccia bread on the side, this was the perfect size lunch. Gary ordered a bowl of their homemade minestrone soup with ham. Also, delicious!

Sonoma Grille and Bar, at 165 W. Napa Street, frequented by locals and tourists alike, was packed on this cold, rainy night in the middle of the week. Thinking that was a good sign, we stopped in there for dinner on our second night. Seafood and steak are both great options at this place. The fact that our server from the Lake Sonoma wine tasting room earlier that day was dining there that evening just confirmed our guess about the quality of the restaurant.

The vibe here is comfortable and wait staff super friendly. A handful of window seats make this place a little more fun – people watching while eating and dining. The restaurant includes a bar with ten seats that were fully occupied with locals enjoying a conversation, hand crafted cocktails, and appetizer plates of crispy calamari, cheeses and artichoke topped flatbread.

Places to Stay

For overnight stays, there are plenty of hotels on the Plaza or within nearby walking distance including MacArthur Place, a 64-room luxury hotel and spa just four blocks from the Plaza; the Best Western Sonoma Valley Inn, just one block from the Plaza; Sonoma Hotel, a 16-room historic boutique hotel on Sonoma Plaza; and Ledson Hotel, a luxury hotel with six guestrooms on Sonoma Plaza.

For more information on the town of Sonoma, wine tasting rooms, lodging, and restaurants, visit: SonomaPlaza.com.

Now park your car, wander through the historic trappings of small town Sonoma, and enjoy some of the best wines that Sonoma County has to offer.

Sonoma Plaza – A Great Way to Sample Sonoma County Wines – Part 3

Welcome back to my series about small-town Sonoma! Gary, my favorite wine tasting partner, and I spent three days exploring the town’s many wine tasting rooms in search of the perfect chardonnay. If you missed Part One or Two, you can get caught up here.

With 25 tasting rooms in easy walking distance of each other, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choices. We visited several, but by far, my favorite was Bennett Valley Cellars. Located at 127 E. Napa Street, this small but comfortable tasting room features bar stools at a long white L-shaped bar, as well as three nearby tables available for seated tastings. We cozied up to the bar and quickly got to know Iliana from Italy, a lively and knowledgeable hospitality hostess.

Inside Bennett Valley tasting room

The original founder, Emilio Zanin, also hails from Italy. Pictures on the walls show the 60-year generational history of this family winery established on the 40-acre Simpatico Ranch Vineyard in the Bennett Valley AVA. In Italian, “Simpatico” means “likable” and that is exactly how I found the 2015 Chardonnay, a Reserve Limited Release. As close to “perfect” as a chardonnay could be, it exudes rich, buttery characteristics with complimentary oak nuances and a silky yet crisp finish. Like Iliana says, “You’ll dream about it!”

Bennett Valley Cellars chardonnays

California State Route Highway 12 traverses Northern California’s iconic Wine Country and cuts directly through the town of Sonoma, turning westward at the Sonoma Plaza. Naming a winery Highway 12 then strikes me as perfectly appropriate. With a tasting room located just off the southeast corner of the plaza, tucked into a retail store in a glass fronted building, Highway 12 offers a rare opportunity to sample complimentary tastings of premium wines. Reserve wines have a tasting fee, but it’s waived if you purchase.

With no chairs for seating, this is old fashioned, “belly up to the bar” wine tasting by the glass. But I found it worth standing around for when I tasted the three chardonnays they produce. I loved the Carneros Highway Chardonnay. At just $19.50 a bottle, this one came home with me!

For dinner we headed to The Girl and the Fig. Popular with locals and tourists, this locally owned restaurant is famous for its Cal-French gourmet food. Just across the street from the northwest corner of Sonoma Plaza, this restaurant has been serving fine, farm-to-table country French entrees for over 20 years. Proprietor, Sondra Bernstein, specializes in pairing “Rhone-alone” wines with her Sonoma-French cuisine. Wine flights are served in a quirky assortment of water, wine and compote glasses, and provide an opportunity to sample more wines from Sonoma County.

The Girl and the Fig

Gary said the pastis-scented mussels with garlic, leeks and herbs were best he’s ever tasted. This casual bistro comes equipped with a full cocktail bar, great dessert offerings and its very own newspaper, the “Fig Chronicles.”

In Part 4, and the last of this series, I’ll share one more wine tasting room to visit, and places to stay.

Be sure to sign up for my distribution list or follow me on Twitter (@chardygirl) and I’ll let you know when the next in the series is out! Until then, I’ll keep on the hunt for the “perfect” chardonnay.

Sonoma Plaza – A Great Way to Sample Sonoma County Wines – Part 2

Welcome back to my series about small-town Sonoma! We spent three days exploring the town’s many wine tasting rooms in search of the perfect chardonnay. If you missed Part One, you can catch up with it here.

With 25 tasting rooms in easy walking distance of each other, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choices. We loved our first stop at Lake Sonoma Winery, but it was time to find lunch.

Just on the other side of the Plaza, we stopped by the Sonoma Cheese Factory, specializing in authentic barbeque, on 2 Spain Street.

Sonoma Cheese Factory – a great place for lunch

The pulled pork sandwich caught our attention and was just as delicious to eat as it looked on the plate. Sonoma Cheese Factory also offers wine tasting. You can enjoy a flight of wines if you want to sample more of Sonoma’s offerings or just order a glass of local wine with your lunch. A gourmet store as well, this place is perfect for putting together a picnic lunch. In business for over 85 years, it’s easy to see why this place Is so popular.

Pangloss Cellars Tasting Lounge

Next, we headed to Pangloss Cellars Tasting Lounge, at 35 East Napa Street. Housed in a refurbished building built in 1902, the tasting lounge is cavernous. Visitors can relax at the large tasting bar in the back of the room or enjoy food and wine pairings in the vintage arm chairs and couches nested around coffee tables along either side of the room. At the back of the room, facing the tasting bar, is a dramatic wall of wine bottles. The lounge itself is handsomely appointed. Rock walls, rustic timber supports, exposed beams in the ceiling, and wood floors harken back to the building’s original purpose – a general store.

Comfortable seating lines the Pangloss Cellars tasting room

Seated at the tasting bar, we were served by the knowledgeable and gracious, Allisa. The tasting fee was pricey, at $25 per person, but the experience was well worth it! Plan to spend the afternoon here – as the pace is relaxed, educational, and the tasting menu generous. We tried the 2015 Chardonnay made with 30% new French oak. As Allisa, explained, the winemaker doesn’t like “a stick of butter or an overly oaked chardonnay” so he doesn’t do anything to affect the malolactic fermentation. Whatever happens, the winemaker lets it happen naturally. With a clean nose, this chardonnay is bright and crisp but still creamy and lightly oaked. 376 cases produced, the wine retails for $35.

After nearly two hours enjoying a delightful tasting experience of whites and reds, it was time to think about dinner.

La Salette – gourmet Portuguese dining

That evening we dined on gourmet Portuguese cuisine at La Salette, 452 First Street East, a popular restaurant. We added the optional wine pairing with dinner. Generous pours, perfectly paired with the appetizers, entrees and dessert, allowed us to sample more Sonoma County wines and provided an extra special dining experience.  I do recommend making reservations in advance as this sophisticated, tile-mural trimmed bistro has quite a local following.

After dinner, a leisurely stroll around the Plaza was the perfect way to end a perfect day. In Part Three of this series, I’ll tell you about two more delightful wine tasting rooms that I highly recommend and why, plus another restaurant that you’ll want to try!

Be sure to sign up for my distribution list or follow me on Twitter (@chardygirl) and I’ll let you know when the next in the series is out! Until then, I’ll keep on the hunt for the “perfect” chardonnay.