Popcorn Chardonnay (California $15) For those of you who love the buttery ones: Badda bing. Unpretentious, unabashedly rich and malolactic and extracted, this does lean toward the rich, creamy, buttery side of the varietal. Vanilla, peach, caramel, apple, pear, shortbread.
Ron Rubin Pam’s Un-Oaked Chardonnay (California, $15) Fruity and light-bodied with a touch of sweetness. Golden Delicious apples, Asian pears, tangerine blossoms. When people refer to “freshness” in a Chard this is what they are talking about. Great pick for a hot afternoon.
Stave and Stone Chardonnay (Columbia Gorge, OR $28) This one’s oaky. Almost caramel-apple-like at heart, with a hint of butter and a trace of smoke. Full-figured. Well-balanced by a strong lemon note on the finish.
Stoller Chardonnay (Dundee Hills OR $25) Unoaked. Delicate flowery nose (a bit of elderflower, acacia, linden type things, powdery spring flowers). Ripe, full-throated palate (mango and Meyer lemon). Strong finish. Really good.
Tall Sage Goose Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA, $12) A little malolactic fermentation gives this Chardonnay a round, soft character. Cool primary fermentation in steel keeps it from being over the top. The nose is lime leaf and jasmine, pear and apple. Tropical fruit flavors are present (pineapple and orange mostly) as well as apricot and yellow apple. Voluptuous finish, good minerality.
Tendril (Willamette Valley OR $40) Tendril might be my favorite discovery of the year. These guys just make awesome wine. It’s not necessarily starving-artist price point but if you can get it, what a treat. This wine has a quality I’d almost call “glassy.” It’s smooth, clear, focused, with quartz-ish minerality and great precision. Blood orange, kaffir lime, pastry, orange blossom, tangerine, vanilla, and a bit of butter, but just a bit.
Tremblay Chablis (Burgundy, France $21) Old World, old-school, and a candidate for getting somewhat old in your cellar. Structure and crispness all the way. Steely as hell, absolutely skips the tropical fruit portfolio and focuses on tangerine oil, jasmine, orange blossoms, honeysuckle and gardenias, with a strong mineral finish.
Z. Alexander Brown “Uncaged” Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands, CA $20) Bright acidity, with caramelized pineapple popping out fairly prominently. Peach, apricot, apple, lemon, toast, and nutmeg also present. Slight beeswax quality. “Mouth-coating” type texture.
Ziata (Los Carneros, CA) Layered, full-flavored, warmer-climate characteristics. Tangerine, orange, green melon, honey, caramel, spice.