Central Coast Chardonnay
What is Chardonnay?
Chardonnay is a white grape from France. The first spotting of Chardonnay was in Burgundy– one of France’s (and the world’s) most prominent wine regions. Best known for its roles in Champagne, Napa and Burgundy, this green-skinned grape shows so much potential. Chardonnay ranges from straw-colored in the glass all the way to almost brown. Oak aging and the age of the wine are both indicators of how this wine may look. Chardonnay is such a unique and versatile grape used for a wide range of styles. Yet, with its versatility and flexibility, there is still often a “Love/Hate” relationship most consumers have with this dry wine.
In the past, Chardonnay has been compared to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio here in the United States. This is because these are the three most common white wines produced and consumed by varietal (without being blended) in the US. Consumers who prefer Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio generally describe Chardonnay as overly buttery, oaky, and too heavy. Consumers who prefer the opposite say that Chardonnay is more approachable because it’s smooth and has lots of butterscotch and caramel notes as well as bright fruit notes; whereas Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are too astringent and stark.
So, how do we make our Chardonnay differently?
Our Chardonnay is picked from a single vineyard in the middle of sunny Central California. After harvesting these ripe and delicious grapes, we bring them to our Malibu-based facility to get crushed and begin fermentation. In order to bring balance to this warm climate wine, we’ve created a blend of tank-fermented and aged Chardonnay with neutral oak-fermented and aged Chardonnay.
Utilizing the tank allows for this neutral grape to be in its purest form. The wines fermented in the tank do not have any additionally imparted flavors, which allows for the grapes’ natural flavors to shine through. This brings forth a crisp example of the fruit with lots of bright citrusy and orchard notes, resulting in what’s known as unoaked wine. Unoaked wine also showcases the fruit’s mineral and saline-driven notes. In the tank, we also have precise control of fermentation, which allows us to skip over malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is what creates diacetyl, more commonly known as the “butter popcorn” flavors. Therefore, you don’t taste those classic “buttery“ chardonnay elements as you would in an oaked Chardonnay that has been through full malolactic fermentation.
But a little bit of oak also is essential to our formula. Utilizing 50% neutral French oak barrels, we’re able to add a hint of that butterscotch and caramel flavor into our wines through a barrel fermentation and aging process. We also do a bit of lees stirring, which is stirring the yeast that collects at the bottom of the barrels to provide a brioche flavor and velvety texture in the wine. This balances out the bright acidity from the tank-fermented Chardonnay.
Once these wines have seen enough time on the inside of the barrels and tanks, it’s time to blend these oaked and unoaked wines. After filtration, we will take our final unique blend and bottle our wines to give us the clearest and most delicious Chardonnay California wine!