The Salut! Wine Club

Mount Eden is very well known as one of the original modern-day wine producers of the Santa Cruz mountains, and their Chardonnay represents both a luscious example of what California Chardonnay is known for, plus an outstanding value on top of that.  Hailed on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines list in several vintages, the Wolff Chardonnay from grapes sourced in the Edna Valley, it demonstrates exactly what people mean when they ask for a “buttery” wine.

EdnaFor the 2007 vintage, Wine Spectator awarded another great score, with 91 points and a “Smart Buy” designation:

Ripe and floral, with fleshy peach, nectarine, melon and spice.  Full-bodied, focused and elegant, with a long, persistent finish that emphasizes the ripe fruitiness.  Drink now through 2012.

In recent years, the overabundance of poorly made and over-hyped buttery styles of Chardonnay created a backlash.  Now, the propensity of many wineries is toward producing un-oaked, crisp and clean versions.  As wineries scramble to prove themselves as non-conformist as every other winery by stopping their buttery/oaky production of Chardonnay, it’s the remaining neo-traditionalists that show just why this style became popular in the first place.   My recommendation is to remove the attitude.  There are plenty of unoaked wines throughout the world to choose from.  Sometimes the table begs for something rich, full, smooth and creamy.

The processes

The spectrum of styles comes from two winemaking methods working in tandem.  First, oak aging of the Chardonnay adds flavors including not just oak/cedar notes, but also butter and vanilla.  The newer the oak, the stronger the impressions.  This oak aging is a hallmark of France’s Burgundy region.  Unoaked versions are more in line with France’s Chablis style.  Secondly, the winemaking process known as Malolactic Fermentation is the use of a second strain of bacteria put to work transforming crisper Malic acids into the softer, creamier Lactic acids (like the acids in cream).

mounteden_2007_wolff_chardThis Wolff Chardonnay is both 100% oak aged and has gone through 100% malolactic fermentation.  But rather than overdone, the rich and creamy appeal is in the full-bodied fruit in abundance, layed across a backbone of balanced oak flavors.  Thankfully, there are still enough great producers of this California style that we can craft savory and creamy chicken dishes, cedar-plank salmon or a sprawling holiday meal to enjoy alongside a great glass of Chardonnay.  This is one of the best anywhere near this price.

2007 was a classic year from this mature, thirty-year-old vineyard. The grapes were harvested in October because of the cool, maritime climate in Edna Valley, and the long growing season gave the wine firm structure and beautiful acidity with buoyant aromas of citrus zest, gardenia flower and toasty nuance. Aged for nine months in French and American oak, this chardonnay is full and rich on the palate reflecting its old-vine, barrel fermented, sur-lie approach. The finish is long and complete.

This wine is regularly sold for $19.99, but is available to wine club members for only $17.99!

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