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.

Cassein Chardonnay 2016 and Richard Hamilton Signature Chardonnay 2015

Through all of my “research” here in Australia, I’ve learned that winemakers in this country, like elsewhere, have shifted from making the “old” style of round, buttery, full-bodied chardonnay, opting for a leaner, unoaked style that tends to let the flavor of the chardonnay grape come through. In fact, I’ve tasted a few of those over the past several weeks and they aren’t too bad.

There are, fortunately, still plenty of winemakers out there, particularly in the Margaret River, Orange and Yarra wine regions that are still making my style of chardonnay. Thanks to a knowledgeable wine server at a Dan Murphy’s in Melbourne, a sales rep for Wine Selectors based out of the Sydney Airport Domestic Terminal, and numerous wine makers and experts at the recent Sydney Good Food and Wine Show, I’ve started finding those round and luscious chardonnays that still exist in Australia! It really does help to hunt around and ask other people…

Two rich and full bodied chardonnays from Australia.

The two wines I’m reviewing were purchased from Wine Selectors, a company that represents boutique wineries from all over Australia. Without signing up for a wine club, or committing to any recurring orders, you can just become a member and order wines by the six pack or by the case, at a reasonable price. We ordered a six pack of chardonnays “for lovers of the rich style” to sample a few. Today I’m reviewing the Cassegrain Chardonnay 2016 and the Richard Hamilton Adelaide Hills Signature Single Vineyard 2015.

The Cassegrain Chardonnay comes from the cool climate of the Central Ranges of New South Wales. There are notes of tropical fruit with hints of hazelnut and creme Brule. Pale yellow in color, clean and bright, this medium bodied wine ends with a soft, round finish. It has layers of stone fruit and hints of pineapple. I find the Cassegrain Chardonnay to be delicious and imminently drinkable.

The winery sells this wine for $23.95 a bottle, but we paid closer to $15 through Wine Selectors. Enjoy with chicken, fish or seafood, or simply by itself.

The Richard Hamilton Adelaide Hills Signature Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, of course, hails from the Adelaide Hills. The oak in the nose is a little too strong for my taste so let it breathe for a few minutes before sipping. Another light golden yellow, but clean and bright wine, it is elegant, stylish and full bodied. Fruit flavors come through in the taste.

The winery sells this for $30.00 a bottle, but again, through Wine Selectors, the cost was approximately $15.00. Enjoy with poultry, seafood or pasta.

Celebrating International Chardonnay Day with a List of My Favorites

Tasting Chardonnay at Bogle Vineyards

Dedicated to finding that perfect chardonnay, I’ve been tasting and blogging about my favorite varietal for almost two years. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed, so thanks for following my experiments and adventures.

People often ask me if I’ve found the perfect chardonnay yet and I must say, “No.” Because when I find the perfect chardonnay, the hunt is over and I won’t need to write this blog anymore. But, I will share with you my favorite chardonnays, just in case you haven’t figured a few out by reading my blog. Not in any particular order, here are my favs:

  • Matchbook Winery’s Arsonist Chardonnay – This is a beautiful winery, up the road on Interstate 5, past Woodland, near the town of Zamora, looking over the gorgeous Dunnigan Hills. At different times, they’ve made up to five different chardonnays, but the Arsonist is my favorite.
  • La Crema’s Nine Barrel and Russian River Valley Chardonnays – La Crema actually makes nine different chardonnays and this is the perfect winery (in Sonoma County) to try a side by side chardonnay tasting. Ask for Lisa and she’ll set you up.
  • Alpha Omega Chardonnay– I just reviewed this one and it is almost perfect (except it’s a little pricey for my blood). But, I thank my dear friends and neighbors for introducing me to this Napa Valley wine. They are wine club members, thankfully, so they didn’t pay full price. It’s worth a splurge once in a while.
  • Bogle Reserve Chardonnay – I can’t believe I have never reviewed this wine. I checked all my blogs and there is not one review. Sure, I’ve written about Bogle for Sacramento Lifestyle Magazine (twice) and written about the winery in my blog, but no chardonnay review. I’ll rectify that soon, but in the meantime, visit the winery and try this wine!

Together, we’ve covered chardonnays from other parts of the world as well as my own backyard. I’ve had the good fortune to visit wineries in Sonoma, Paso Robles, Mendocino, Amador, the Delta, South America, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and most recently, France. Winetasting along the way is one of the most wonderful aspects of travel.

It’s been a blast and everywhere I find wonderful, delicious chardonnay. In fact, chardonnay carries the distinction as the world’s most famous white wine and most widely planted grape. So, it’s fitting that there is an International Chardonnay Day, today, May 25, 2017.

On this most special (to me) of days, we are headed to the land of Oz, where the nickname, “Chardy Girl” was penned and stuck. (You can read the original story here.) The lucky Aussies, they have a whole month to celebrate wine, from May 1 – 31. Our plane arrives just in time to help them celebrate by tasting some of those delicious Yarra Valley chardonnays.

And you know what that means! The next few blogs will be featuring Australian chardonnays. So enjoy! Happy International Chardonnay Day! Cheers!