Tyrrell Chardonnay from Australia

In celebration of our daughter, Ashley, who moved to Sydney recently, we are tasting two Australian chardonnays today, both from the Hunter Valley.

Although we visited Australia a few years ago and had a delightful time tasting wines in two of the country’s more well-known wine regions, the Barossa and Yarra Valleys, we did not make it to Hunter Valley.  Fortunately for us, we’ll need to make a return trip, to visit our daughter, of course, and Hunter Valley is calling my name. Stay tuned for more on Australian wines!

Tyrell’s Old Winery Chardonnay 2014

Barrel fermented for 6 months, this medium bodied wine displays subtle oak in the nose, with some hints of stone fruit. The mouthfeel is smooth. The wine is clean and accessible with delicate flavors of white peach and citrus. The color is light golden yellow and alcohol is 13.0%

This Old Winery chardonnay is a decent wine and imminently drinkable, but a little light in flavor for my taste. Can be purchased at Total Wine for $12.59

Tyrrell’s Reserve Hunter Valley 2010

While a vintage of 2010 seems a little old for a white wine, this reserve chardonnay holds up well. The bouquet displays notes of honeysuckle and slight perfume. A richer, more fruit forward chardonnay than the Old Winery chardonnay described above, it is similar as it also has some flavors of peach and citrus. I’ll be curious, when we make it to Hunter Valley, to see if those are characteristics distinct to that wine growing region.

This wine tastes clean and well made, medium bodied, complex, round, with a smooth finish. As it opens up, the Reserve grows more complex.

Medium yellow in color and 13.0% in alcohol. Retails for $21.59 at Total Wine.

Sonoma-Loeb Chardonnay Sonoma County 2014

Makers of several different chardonnays, Sonoma-Loeb has been described as one of the premier white wine makers in Sonoma County and recommended to us by a wine server at Passagio. Although we didn’t get a chance to stop by on our recent trip to the small town of Sonoma, Sonoma-Loeb also has a tasting room in the same “wine alley” as Passagio, just off the town’s main square.

This limited production chardonnay, hand crafted in small lots, fits the profile of my kind of chardonnay. There are hints of mild oak and pear in the nose. The wine is soft, round and elegant with a lush, full flavored finish. The body is balanced, polished, clean and well made.

After tasting this wine, I  think it’s worth a return trip to taste a few of Sonoma-Loeb’s other chardonnays, especially their reserve chardonnays. But if you can’t make it over to Sonoma anytime soon, you can pick up a bottle of this at Total Wine for $18.99. Not too bad for a quality bottle of Sonoma County chardonnay.

Napa Valley or Sonoma County?

As 2016 comes to a close, we are wrapping up a fun and delicious year of wine tasting with two California chardonnays.

For this tasting, we chose two different chardonnays from Trader Joe’s. Both chardonnays are the Trader Joe’s brand, and both $12.99 a bottle, but one is from the famed Carneros wine region in Napa Valley, and the other is from Chalk Hill in Sonoma County. Here’s what we found:

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve – Chalk Hill, Sonoma County 2015 Lot #28

The nose on this wine has slight toasty oak and vanilla notes. It is light in color and has a polished and balanced acidity. I am tasting layers of citrus zest and pear, with a butterscotch flavor in the finish. The wine is 15.1% in alcohol.

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve – Carneros, Napa Valley 2014 Lot #51

This wine is also light in color, but the nose opens with a subtle fragrance of honeysuckle. Although the bouquet is subtle, the flavors of the wine, coconut, pear, and vanilla come through nicely. It has a soft, smooth finish and is 14.5% in alcohol.

The Napa wine is more flavorful and pronounced while the Chalk Hill wine is softer, more subtle all the way around. I’m normally a lover of Chalk Hill, but this time I think I prefer the Carneros wine. At just $12.99 a bottle, I’m definitely headed back to Trader Joes to round out my New Year’s Eve wine selection.

Thank you for following us in 2016. We are looking forward to much more tasting, even heading to Australia to enjoy the delicious chardonnays from the Barossa wine region. So stay tuned. Come back and visit us often.

Wishing you the best in 2017! Happy New Year!


Boeger 2015 El Dorado Chardonnay


We’ve traversed Sonoma, tried wines from Napa, sampled many Yolo chardonnays, dipped down into Arroyo Seco and even hopscotched over to Argentina, but I don’t think we’ve covered any El Dorado wines yet.

Today we are trying the Boeger 2015 El Dorado Chardonnay, a recent gift from my darling friend, Rebecca.

This is not a creamy or full-bodied wine but leans more towards a light-bodied wine with a soft finish. It has a polished style. I taste layers of pear and apricot with hints of citrus. Luscious vanilla bean and honeysuckle notes are in the bouquet.

100% malolactic fermentation, 30% French oak and lees stirring contribute to make this an easy drinking wine.  I love the notes in the nose and think that is my favorite part of this wine. At just $16 a bottle, I like it!

Chardonnay from Argentina’s Mendoza Wine Region


Our recent visit to the Mendoza wine region in Argentina left me wanting for more of the delicious wine from this sun-kissed part of the world. Fortunately for me, just about the time we arrived home, Wine.com decided to hold a sale on several Argentinian and Chilean wines (Yes, we stopped on the other side of the Andes, too, to sample the wines of Valle del Maipo).

I ordered a variety of chardonnays to be delivered. Today we are tasting the 2014 Alamos Chardonnay and the Tilia Chardonnay from Mendoza.

Alamos Chardonnay Mendoza 2014

This wine has a brilliant, light yellow color. Enjoy hints of vanilla in the nose, followed by tastes of stone fruit and ripe apple, layered with vanilla. It is well-balanced and full-flavored, very much to my liking. It also has a lovely finish that lingers on my palate. The wine sold for $9.99 on Wine.com.

Cultivated by the Catena family for over 100 years, Alamos vineyards lie in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

This wine pairs nicely with roasted chicken or pasta dishes with a cream sauce. We also sampled it with a soft brie cheese and found the pairing to be delightful.

Tilia Chardonnay Mendoza 2014

This wine has slight hints of toasted oak and vanilla in the nose. The wine itself, however displays a ripe citrus flavor. The color is also a brilliant, light yellow like the Alamos. The Tilia is well-balanced, lighter bodied than the Alamos, with a clean, refreshing finish. We purchased it for $10.99 from Wine.com.

Tilia is sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards in the Eastern and Southern regions of Mendoza. Pair with a mild white cheese or grilled chicken or grilled vegetables.

Of the two wines, I found the Alamos to be more to my liking. I lean towards the fuller-flavored, fuller-bodied chardonnays.  And for the price, I could see myself stocking up on some more Alamos Chardonnay.

Trader Joe’s Chardonnay – Side by Side Comparison of Two Chardonnays

Today we stopped in to Trader Joe’s and picked up several wines to try. Two chardonnays that were advertised in their latest flyer and intrigued me were the Big Churn, described as a big, buttery chardonnay, and the Eris Vineyards Chardonnay, described as buttery and rich. Although the prices were different, I decided to do a side by side comparison of the two. Here’s what I found:

trader-joesBig Churn – 2014 California Chardonnay sells for $6.99. This is a big wine that opens up with oak in the nose and hints of vanilla. Malolactic fermentation is in full swing here and is, perhaps, a bit overdone.  Appearance is honey yellow and the wine is 14.5% in alcohol. The wine does display fruit notes of pear with a smooth, lingering finish, but the wine is just too overpowering for my taste. This wine is vinted and bottled by Big Churn in Napa.

Eris Chardonnay – 2014 Carneros Estate Napa Valley, is bright yellow in color, made from 100% chardonnay grapes from a single estate on the Napa side of Carneros. This is a much more refined chardonnay than the Big Churn and at $12.99 a bottle, a pretty decently priced wine. The nose is faint but the wine is buttery and smooth, with a creamy mouthfeel. The flavors are fruity with hints of peaches and citrus and finishes with toasty vanilla. This is definitely a better wine than the Churn and worth the extra $6.00 per bottle. I can’t swear to it, but the Eris Chardonnay may be related to Cuvaison. My searches online for Eris Chardonnay kept leading me to the Cuvaison website. Again, not sure, but snap up some bottles of this delicious chardonnay before they’re gone.


Lava Cap Reserve Chardonnay 2014 – El Dorado

Lava CapAn old favorite of mine from years ago, I haven’t tasted this wine in a long time. Generously gifted to me by a dear friend, I truly enjoyed getting reacquainted with Lava Cap.

Enjoy notes of pear and apple aromas in the nose followed by delicious tastes of vanilla and butterscotch. It’s 15% alcohol, which is big for a chardonnay, giving it a slightly incisive and warm finish that lingers on your palate. This wine is full of flavor, with a big mouthfeel. Chew on this one to really taste all of the deliciousness in this wine.

The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels, leaving it with a touch of oak in the finish.

We paired this wine with Beecher’s No Woman cheese, infused with Jamaican Jerk Spices and the wine was bold and flavorful enough not to be overpowered by the cheese.

Chamisal 2012 Edna Valley Chardonnay

This is a lovely chardonnay that was recommended to me by one of the wine servers at Matchbook. She overheard me talking about the style of chardonnay that I like (and Matchbook’s Arsonist Chardonnay is one of my favorites) and recommended this one from San Luis Obispo, California.

Upon raising the glass to my nose, I detected some toasty oak. Okay, so good, so far. But, there is also a faint buttery aroma, as well. My tasting partner says he could pick up buttery biscuits in the nose.

This is a classic California chardonnay, soft and round and smooth with luscious stone and tropical fruit flavors integrated in the flavor. The mouthfeel is also soft and round, with an easy finish. The wine is polished and refined, yet flavorful. The color is pale and golden. Alcohol is 13.9%.ChamisalUnfortunately, the 2012 is no longer available on the winery’s website. We picked up this bottle at Total Wine and I suspect that their chardonnays are pretty consistent so I will be on the hunt for another bottle soon…

Hop Kiln 2012 North Bridge Chardonnay – Russian River Valley

Hop KilnThis is HKG’s Sonoma County estate grown chardonnay and a good example of barrel fermented and Sur Lie aged wine.  This chardonnay is fermented in French oak barrels, and a secondary fermentation also takes place in the barrel.  The result is a lot of oak in the nose and the flavor.  The wine is a solid gold color, lots of legs in the glass.  It’s complex, smooth, medium bodied and well structured.  The mouthfeel is creamy and I like that, but oak dominates the flavor and I’m not a big fan of that.

After tasting this one, I think I prefer less oak and more of the vanilla, butterscotch flavors you often see in the Russian River.  My husband and tasting partner, Gary, however, loved the big oak in this chardonnay.  14.7% alcohol.

We purchased this at the winery and although I’m not crazy about their chardonnay, I do think the winery is beautiful and worth a visit.

We are headed back to Sonoma County for a special three days of extra special wine tastings and I’ll be blogging along the way.  Stay tuned…

Schug 2013 Carneros Chardonnay


Aged in French oak barrels, this wine exhibits scents of oak in the nose and distinct overtones of oak in the taste of the wine.  The winemaker does not induce malolactic fermentation in the making of the wine, something that I do prefer in my chardonnays.  The style is clean and the wine is elegant with a natural acidity.  Layers of pear and spiced apples come through in the flavor.  This wine pairs nicely with food, especially cream sauces over pasta, seafood or a nice oven roasted chicken.

It sells for $30 at the winery, or $24 for wine club members. Schug Carneros Estate Winery is in Sonoma County, down a long country road and up on the top of a hill.  Beautiful country.  This was one of our last stops on a trip through Sonoma and Mendocino Counties last fall.  They are a member of the Priority Wine Pass, a membership that we purchased last year to help offset the cost of wine tasting, particularly in the more expensive wine regions of Napa and Sonoma.