ABC….”Anything But Chardonnay”

How unfair!  The world’s second most planted white grape variety (Airen is first…who?? Yup.) and by fairly recent survey (these surveys are very difficult to do), the 5th most popular global grape variety is often maligned straight out of hand.  Why this injustice?  If it is so bad, why does it continue to rise in popularity?  It’s actually not the grape itself.  It’s what some winemakers do to it.  Some swamp the subtle tasting grape with oak, and it is the over-oaking that disagrees with many wine lovers.  Now, Chardonnay is a “controlling” winemaker’s grape.  The grape variety can be molded into any “shape” the sculptor wishes.  It will also take most cellar manipulations in easy stride (including oaking).  Basically, Chardonnay will say what ever you want it to say if that is what you wish.  We at Vineland prefer the vineyard to speak through the grapes harvested and the resultant wines.  We want our wines, most certainly, to taste of place and we do not wish our wines to taste like some specific oak forest in France.  Yes, we will carry out appropriate cellar operations to bring out the best in a wine (and many times that means light oak in a supporting role) but we work hard not to let any one added feature swamp out the message from the vineyard soil that gave birth to the grapes.   We want to express “terroir” (specific taste of place).  Vineland Estates wines should always taste like they came from one place only…  Internationally respected wine critic Matt Kramer raved when he tasted our Chardonnays a number of years ago.  “This is a new taste for me and Chardonnay and I shall refer to the incredible terroir of your vineyards as I try to describe other Chardonnays of the world.”  High praise indeed for both our vineyards and our wine making team.  So, we love it when a guest arrives and says, “I hate Chardonnay!”  We take no offense and quietly, out of sight, pour an unoaked Chardonnay to present.  As they taste the wine blind, we will always here, “Now THAT is a wine that I love!”  Imagine their surprise as we reveal that it is a Chardonnay.  We quickly explain what they are generally objecting to, why ours is different and all is well.  We then celebrate that we, “brought another back”!!

Cheers, David