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.

Folie a Deaux 2013 Chardonnay – Russian River Valley, Sonoma County

Folie a Deaux

I wasn’t even going to review this wine.  I went down to my basement tonight and grabbed a bottle of what I thought was just an everyday drinking wine, but what a surprise!

The nose is full of sweet scents of pear and vanilla with hints of oak.  This is a medium bodied wine with pineapple and tropical notes, layered with honey and butter.  The texture is soft and round.  I like that the nose is so full of aroma, it compliments the taste of the wine and adds another dimension to the whole tasting experience.

This was another Safeway wine on sale at just $13.49.  It hails from the Russian River Valley, one of my favorite wine producing regions.  13.9% in alcohol.

This is going to become a regular in my wine rack!

Chloe Chardonnay 2013 – Sonoma County

Folie a Deaux

Tonight I’m trying one of my new “box” meals from Hello Fresh.  This is one of those companies that promises to send you all of the fresh ingredients, right sized for two people or four, complete with cooking instructions.  Well, I can’t start cooking without a glass of wine, can I?  So read with me while I try this Chloe Chardonnay made from grapes from Sonoma County.

There are nuances of oak and vanilla in the nose.  This is not a big, bold, complex chardonnay but the mouth feel is a real pleasure.  Lots of legs on this wine, with a beautiful, light golden color.  With a creamy, silky finish, this is a sophisticated and refined wine.  It is a delicious wine to sip all by itself or with food.

I paid $11.69, on sale at Safeway, for this wine.  13.5% in alcohol.  Enjoy!

Chateau St. Jean 2012 Belle Terre – Single Vineyard, Alexander Valley

Chateau St. Jean

I was very excited to stop by this winery during our trip through Mendocino and Sonoma Counties last fall. It was on my list of recommended wineries from a blog I read before we headed out to wine country. The winery itself was plenty busy on a Friday afternoon and the staff was very friendly.

At first, I couldn’t detect much in the nose, but the second pour revealed a slight scent of freshly sliced fruit. This is a rich and creamy, well-structured wine with a very pleasant mouthfeel. It is layered with ripe fruit characteristics and a hint of vanilla. Enjoy the ripe, full roundness on the palate.

The color is light golden in appearance, and the wine has plenty of legs. Alcohol is 14.4% in volume. The wine sells for $30 at the winery which is where I purchased it.  Or, check for prices from $22.99 to $26.99.


Matchbook Chardonnays

Matchbook Wine Company is quickly becoming one of my favorite wineries, producing as many as five different chardonnays. The winery produces four different brands of wine: Matchbook, Mossback, Chasing Venus, and Sawbuck.

Located in Dunnigan Hills, about thirty minutes north of Sacramento, Matchbook has a beautiful facility overlooking their vineyards on rolling green hills. To compare and contrast, today I am tasting three of their most popular chardonnays.


Mossback 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Mossback is an old fashioned term for farmers, and the owners, being grape growers as well as winemakers, can identify with the profession.

Apple and citrus aromas with a hint of vanilla waft up from the glass of this wine produced from grapes out of the Russian River Valley. It has a rich and creamy texture, and is soft and round on the palate. There is some acidity in the finish. Although this wine is softer and milder, lacking the butterscotch flavor that I typically find in a Russian River Valley chardonnay, it is lovely and quite drinkable. The alcohol is 13.9%. It sells for $17.99 a bottle in the winery.

Matchbook 2013 Giguire Musque Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay

Musque is the French term meaning both perfumed and muscat-like. What a beautiful nose, truly perfumed, enhancing the tasting experience with such wonderful smells. The wine itself is layered with honeysuckle, orange blossom and pear overtones. The body is thinner than the Mossback. It is round, soft, and has a lingering finish with a hint of apricot at the end. The alcohol is 13.5%. This wine sells for $15.99 a bottle at the winery.

Arsonist 2013 Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay

The winemaker describes this as a big, rich, creamy, full flavored chardonnay and I have to agree. This is my favorite wine at Matchbook and very closely matches what I have been looking for in that “good, old-fashioned” style of chardonnay.

I smell toasted oak and hints of vanilla in the nose. This has a rich, creamy mouthfeel. This is what chardonnay should taste like. The flavor of the grape comes through in this wine and is not overpowered by the French, American, and Hungarian oak barrels in which it was aged. There is a taste of sweet caramel in the finish. The wine is 14.3% in alcohol. It sells for $21.99 a bottle at the winery, but is also widely available commercially. Look for it on sale at your local grocery store.

Quimay 2012 Neuquén Chardonnay


According to the label, these grapes were grown in a rugged, desert land in Patagonia, Argentina, that was inhabited for centuries by the fierce Mapuche Indians.  The Mapuche had oasis sanctuaries which became holy sites called Quimay or blessed water.  Today the vineyards are planted in many of these areas brought to life in a harsh terrain by the Mapuche’s blessed water.

We recently returned from a trip to South America where we tasted many wines from Patagonia, Mendoza, Chile, and even Uruguay.  My husband, feeling sentimental about Patagonia, saw this bottle of wine in a local liquor store and picked it up for me.  So, I decided to try it and share my thoughts about this chardonnay that doesn’t really taste like a chardonnay.

This wine has a faint scent of ripe pear in the nose.  At first taste, the wine seems bright and fresh with lots of acidity.  But as it warms, it becomes more complex with a slight lingering finish.  This is not an oaky, creamy chardonnay, but it is imminently drinkable and would stand up well to a lot of different foods.

If you’ve been reading some of my recent reviews of Sonoma County wines, you’ll laugh when I tell you the wine was only $3 a bottle.  Again, this was not my dream wine, but at $3 a bottle for a generic bottle of white wine, it wouldn’t hurt to keep some around for your next party for your less discriminating white wine drinkers.

Parducci True Grit Reserve Chardonnay 2013 – Mendocino County


Parducci was one of my favorite wineries that we visited on a recent trip through Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. On the day we stopped by, we were the only ones in the winery and we got extra special attention. Every wine we tasted there was delightful, so much so that we joined their wine club.

The nose on this wine is clean with mild scents of pear. It has a polished, yet rich style and the texture is somewhat creamy. I tasted slight summer fruit flavors. The finish is round and smooth, not incisive. The wine was aged in 100% new French oak, but the oak is not overly pronounced in this vintage.

Upon drinking the remainder of this bottle the next day, I discovered the wine had even more complexity and flavor. Enjoy it with a roasted chicken if serving with food, or just enjoy it alone!

La Crema Nine Barrel 2012 – Russian River

La Crema Nine Barrel

This is a blend of La Crema’s best chardonnays from nine of the highest quality barrels. According to the staff at La Crema, it is hand crafted, layered and expressive, a passion of the winemaker.

We have tasted this twice at the winery and once at home and each time it has been an exceptional and delicious wine. I pick up notes of toffee in the nose, but my tasting partner smells sugary frosting. The color is lightly golden and the wine is clean. The texture is not oily and buttery, but it is creamy and complex with some acidity in the finish.

I think the Russian River chardonnays always have a touch of butterscotch in the flavor, something I’ve really come to appreciate, and this one does as well. I also taste layers of caramel, vanilla, ripe pear and baked apple. It is 14.5% in alcohol.

This is La Crema’s premium chardonnay and it retails for $70 in the winery or $59.50 for wine club members. This is a little high priced for my day to day wine budget, but it truly is a delightful chardonnay for a special occasion.