Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Chalone Estate Chardonnay, 2010

When this wine was reviewed by the Wine Enthusiast in 2012, it was described as "overoaked with buttered toast, caramel and sweet vanilla flavors dominating everything else." The winemaker, tasting his product a few years later wrote that "it is now starting to develop the complex brioche nuances that I love in this wine as it ages." Tasting the 10-year-old Chardonnay tonight when it is fully mature, I agree with the winemaker rather than the WE reviewer.

Deep gold color but bright and lovely. Compact smells and flavors--more brioche than buttered toast (sweet, rich buttered toast?) I generally don't like big, buttery Chardonnays, but if this wine personifies the overoaked style, then I am a fan. The oak (412 French oak barrels, according to the label) is integrated beautifully into very special fruit grown on the Chalone Estate. Subtle, complex, long finish. Mature Chardonnay at its best.

The current vintage of Chalone Estate Chardonnay sells for about $30. That's a bit high for my budget, but if you know that you can keep the wine for 8 to 10 years or longer and expect improvement rather than deterioration, that price is not unreasonable.

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