Winemaker Harry Hansen says his primary goal with this Chardonnay is to emphasize the "sense of place"--the unique aromas and flavors that derive from Edna Valley, with its long growing season and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The soil consists of layers of clay and volcanic rock over ancient ocean subsoil.
A great deal of the character of this Chardonnay, however, comes from techniques that are common among New World winemakers: barrel fermentation and malolactic fermentation for the rich, creamy texture and new oak barrels for buttery tropical fruit aromas and flavors. 90 percent of the wine is matured in new oak; 10 percent in stainless steel.
It's a deep gold, and the buttery scents and flavors are well developed. This wine is more mature than I would expect from a 2005, and it is drinking very nicely right now. Aromas and flavors of white peaches, apricots, citrus and butterscotch--friendly and open. It's a fat wine with low acidity, but the assertive fruit flavors are strong enough to stand up to shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce. And they add a slight mineral spiciness of their own. For my tastes, I would prefer a bit more of this spiciness and a bit more acidity.
Edna Valley Chardonnay usually retails for about $15 but is often offered for $12.99 at Cost Plus World Market--a good value. I bought mine from D&W Fresh Markets in Kalamazoo for $10.99--an even better value. And I recently saw the 2006 on sale for a comparable price.
I used to age Edna Valley Chardonnary for five years or longer, but the maturity of this bottle indicates that the wine should be consumed as early as possible.