2015 Smith + Story Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Region: Sonoma Coast < CA
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Sustainable farming; night pick, grapes chilled and gently pressed, then straight to neutral French barrels for a slow, cool fermentation with minimal stirring; aged on lees for 10 months in neutral wood; unfined; minimal added SO2; 13.3% ABV
Winemaker: Ross Cobb & Katy Wilson
I’m ashamed to admit that for years I was a Chardonnay hater. I thought all Chardonnays, especially ones from California, were oaky butter bombs, a prejudice ingrained in me by my mother, who drank (and mostly still drinks) only Sauvignon Blanc. As it turns out, Mom was totally wrong, and so was I. Chardonnay doesn’t just naturally taste like fake buttered popcorn – it’s actually a very neutral grape, one that greedily soaks up the influences of its terroir and winemaking. There are lots of producers that OD on oak (or oak chips), but thankfully there are great producers who use oak subtly, to bring out the lush flavors of a juicy apples, pears and stone fruit inherent in the grape without weighing the wine down or getting all flabby. Like Allison and Eric Smith (a lovely couple who launched their winery with a Kickstarter campaign in 2014) – their pretty Chardonnay comes from coastal fruit and ages in neutral Burgundy oak for 10 months. Power team Ross Cobb (Flowers, Cobb Family) and Katy Wilson (Flowers, Joseph Phelps) makes the wine, and so you know it’s gonna be good: vibrant acidity, some briny, salty notes that melt into fleshy stone fruit and a creamy finish. Total crowd pleaser!