A Crisp Unoaked Chardonnay for $12
September 24, 2012 Daily Drinkers
A newish trend in U.S. Chardonnay is to forgo the oak, allowing the crisp Chardonnay fruit to shine through. It was a warm late-summer weekend in Chicago and the Chamisal 2011 Chardonnay “Stainless” provided a delicious alternative to the Sauvignon Blanc and Rose we’ve been enjoying all summer.
Tropical fruit and honey on the nose leads into a palate that is at the same time crisp, but also huge. Perhaps not surprisingly, the winemaker is a Kiwi who clearly takes a Sauvignon Blanc approach with this wine, allowing the fruit flavors to shine through rather than “outside influences” of oak and malolactic fermentation. Here is a nice video of the winemaker talking about his process with this wine:
I appreciate both styles of Chardonnay but think this is a very well-executed “naked” version. That said, this is a ripe wine, particularly so for the cool 2011 vintage. It isn’t a Chardonnay dressed up like a Sauvignon Blanc, but rather a unique expression of Chardonnay. Style preferences aside, at $12, this is a lot of wine for the money.
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Wine Spectator 88 points
“Crisp and refreshing, with snappy, zesty flavors of lemon- and citrus-laced green apple, honeydew melon and spice. Clean, lively finish. Drink now through 2018. 20,000 cases made. ”
Wine Advocate 87 points
“The 2011 Chardonnay Stainless shows serious intensity in its ripe, varietal fruit. This is an especially large, juicy Chardonnay, particularly considering the vintage and the aging in steel. Still, this bold Chardonnay delivers plenty of quality for the money. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2014. “