Napa Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2013

I detected a hint of sweet cream, vanilla and oak in the nose. Delicious! The body is smooth, round, soft and creamy. The finish is complex. The color is light gold. This vintage was released in June 2014, and was aged in 89% French oak. 14.2% alcohol.

This wine is so delicious, it is probably best to drink it alone. But, it would work well with petite breakfast brie, or a roasted chicken sprinkled with fresh thyme and oregano, or a butternut squash soup.

Clos du Bois Russian River Valley, Sonoma Reserve 2013

I’m starting to find that I really like Russian River chardonnays.  They aren’t always that oft desired creamy, buttery, oaky chardonnay that I’m searching for, but they display a complexity, and frequently a hint of butterscotch.

Today’s chardonnay is the 2013 Clos du Bois, Russian River Valley Sonoma Reserve from Sonoma County.  This is an elegant wine with a light golden color and a subtle aroma of ripe pear. This wine is bright with pronounced acidity, hints of spice and butterscotch.  It finishes with a creamy mouthfeel which seems odd considering its acidity, but that just adds to this delightful wine’s complexity.

Alcohol is 13.5%.  This is another one of those well priced wines that I picked up from my local Safeway store, on sale for $10.70.  Normally selling for $16.99, I just happened upon one of their big wine sales, making this a very reasonably priced, yet delicious chardonnay.

Valley of the Moon, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

In preparation for our upcoming trip to Sonoma County, I tasted a 2012 Valley of the Moon, Sonoma Coast chardonnay. This wine has a clean nose, tastes of vanilla with hints of citrus and pear overtones. I also detected a faint taste of butterscotch on my first sip. The wine shows a medium golden color, the body is polished. The style is balanced and lush with a long palate. It has a nice finish that shows complexity in the end.

I purchased this wine for a lovely $10.70 (normally retails for $16.99) at my local Safeway. This wine would pair nicely with chicken in a light cream sauce or even the heavier fettuccini alfredo. Mmmm, I’m looking forward to wine tasting in the Sonoma wine region.

Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay 2012

Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay

This is one more of the “goodbye wines” and it surprised me. I had heard good things about the wine and expected it to be somewhat complex with overtones of butterscotch and caramel (perhaps because of the winery’s name). But it turned out to be lighter and more mellow than I anticipated.

The wine exhibits tones of citrus blossom, layered with minerality. The mouth feel is soft and round and the style is clean.

The vineyard is planted in gravel-rich, clay loam soils. The cool climate produces a mineral driven chardonnay. The wine is 14.3% in alcohol. The suggested retail price at the winery is $27.00 but the wine can be found online for around $20.

This was not a chardonnay that had the characteristics I’m typically looking for in a wine and to be honest, the minerality threw me off initially. I had to taste it several times to really distinguish the flavors. But, we are headed to Sonoma soon for wine tasting. The winery has a good reputation and if time permits, I’ll make my way there and give their chardonnay another chance.

Two La Crema Chardonnays

La Crema

Today, I’m tasting two different chardonnays from La Crema, both from the “goodbye wines” that my former co-workers gave me when I left the full time grind to pursue blogging and travel writing (see the picture and story behind the “goodbye wines”).

It turns out that La Crema actually produces eight different chardonnays, something I didn’t know. The two I am reviewing today are the 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and the 2013 Russian River Chardonnay. Now I know you purists out there would say that is not a fair comparison to pit a 2013 against a 2012 considering how different each year’s growing conditions can be. But, hey, that’s what was in my gift box and I think it’s a good way to see how the Russian River style compares to the Sonoma Coast.

Here are my observations on the two:

2013 La Crema Russian River Chardonnay

  • Body is more complex
  • Style is accessible and clean
  • Acidity is fresh
  • Clean, fresh scent of pear in the nose with hints of stone fruit
  • I taste layers of vanilla, butterscotch, and stone fruit
  • I find it to be rich and complex with hints of oak and hazelnut in the finish
  • 14.5% alcohol
2012 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

  • Body is lighter, more delicate, and refined
  • Style is accessible and clean
  • Acidity is lively
  • The nose is clean with a mild bouquet
  • This wine is crisper and higher in acidity, delicate
  • I taste layers of vanilla, coconut, and ripe citrus
  • As it warms it becomes more complex
  • 13.5% alcohol

Both wines were lightly golden in color and neither displayed those oaky, creamy, buttery characteristics that I love so well in a chardonnay. But, with that said, they were both enjoyable and I would happily drink them again, especially the Russian River chardonnay.

The other chardonnays that La Crema produces are the Nine Barrel (La Crema’s high end chardonnay from the Russian River Valley), the Anderson Valley, Arroyo Seco (from the Monterey wine growing region), Los Carneros, Monterey, and Saralee’s Vineyard (also from the Russian River Valley). I’ll be heading to Sonoma County next month for wine tasting and will definitely plan to stop by La Crema. Look for a future review of their additional wines when I return.

Where to Buy La Crema Russian River and Sonoma Coast Chardonnays:

Both wines are available online at the La Crema website. The Russian River retails for $30 and the Sonoma Coast sells for $23.00. However, both wines are also readily available in Northern California grocery stores such as Safeway and Raley’s and wine retailers for a price significantly less than the winery website.

Woodwork Central Coast Chardonnay


Woodwork Central Coast Chardonnay 2013, Batch No. 12.  Its label boasts an oak influence, fruit expression, vanilla and caramel notes, apple, pineapple and peach notes.  With a label like that, who can resist trying it?

The nose is clean and there’s a lot going on in this wine.  It definitely shows the fruit flavors with layers of vanilla and caramel with a slight butterscotch finish.  My initial taste ends with a zippy (I love that term!) finish, something I find characteristic of the central coast chardonnays.  This could be the pear and apple influence in the wine.

To my taste, the oak is subtle, and not displaying the soft, round, buttery traits that I’m always looking for in a chardonnay.  But, with that said, I do still like central coast chardonnays for their complexity.  This one leans more toward the fruit expression with a touch of caramel, is complex with multiple flavors and would pair well with a soft brie cheese and apple slices, or roasted chicken.  13% alcohol.

I picked up this wine, on sale, at Safeway for $8.18 (normally $12.99), but it is also available at Total Wine and many other online resellers.

Cupcake Chardonnay

Another one of the “goodbye wines”, I couldn’t resist opening this one because of the adorable decoration glued to the front of it by one of my former, creative co-workers.  They know the Chardy Girl likes to ride her bicycle, as well as sip her favorite wine.


This chardonnay combines bright citrus with vanilla overtones and is not heavy in oak or butter. It has a clean nose with no off odors. It has an almost incisive, but not tart finish. Wine experts would describe that as “sharp in the finish” or even zippy or zesty. I say that it finishes with a sensation of tanginess on my tongue. It’s not offensive or tart, but the wine just lets you know that it’s there. The majority of the grapes come from Monterey County and the flavor is pretty representative of Central Coast chardonnays. The alcohol content is 13.5%.

Cupcake Chardonnay is not a premier chardonnay to save for a special dinner with friends. But it is a good utility wine, imminently drinkable. It is budget priced and can often be found on sale at your local grocery story for as low as $7 or $8.


Rendez-vous Chardonnay

I love the Sacramento River Delta and its wine tasting region so it’s fitting that my first review should be from a winery in Clarksburg. Today, I’m tasting a 2012 chardonnay from Rendez-vouz Winery, one of the many “goodbye wines” from my former co-workers (see the picture and story behind the “goodbye wines”).

A good chardonnay can be served un-chilled and this one came straight from my wine cellar. The color is a faint yellow, lighter in color than some chardonnays. The nose is very clean with vanilla overtones, I taste butterscotch in the mouth, and this wine shows some body with a creamy, lingering finish. The alcohol content is 14.4%.


The label on the bottle is perfect. It reads “Share your passion”. I’m passionate about chardonnay and I give this particular wine two thumbs up.

Where to Buy Rendez-vous Chardonnay:

Rendez-vous chardonnay can be purchased directly from the winery, either online Sugar Mill Wineries or in their tasting room, located in the Old Sugar Mill. The Old Sugar Mill is a collection of wineries at 35265 Willow Avenue, just down the road from Clarksburg, California, in the Sacramento River Delta (read more about this wine tasting region here).

The wine retails for $24.00 a bottle, but wine club members save an additional 20%. To learn more about Rendez-vous Winery, visit their website.