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Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

There is a rift that divides the wine consuming world. There are people who prefer the robust flavors of red wine, and those who prefer the delicate balance of white wines. For those who restrict themselves to just one type of wine have not yet unlocked the full potential of the drink known as “the nectar of the gods.”

Most white wines do not have the stand alone structure that reds do. This is primarily due to the strong tannic influence of the red grape. Because most people are first introduced to red wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, they are place off by the difference in flavor, texture and color of white wine. But white wine can offer just as much as any red; it just presents its flavor in a different manner.

The subtle nature of white wine allows it to be paired with foods that would be otherwise overpowered by any red varietal. Although some find it dull, drinking white wine alone can be an enjoyable experience if the right wine is selected. This is the problem that strikes the heart of anyone who has fumbled through a restaurant’s esoteric wine list or the hallowed aisles of a wine retail store.

Chardonnay is by far the most well loved white varietal. This delectable wine can be loved with a wide variety of foods, and is one of the only whites that can boldly stand alone. The delicate nature of the Chardonnay grape, along with its high acidity and low sugar allows it to be paired with light dishes; while its buttery flavors and textures allow it to be paired with rich, creamy foods.

Because many French and California cuisine dishes are cream based, the Chardonnay varietal has a strong presence on their restaurant’s wine list. But choosing the right Chardonnay can pose a problem for even the most experienced wine connoisseur. This can mean the difference between enhancing your dining experience and turning your night out into a dull, dull meal.

Chardonnay vines grow in a wide variety of climates and soils. Because of this, they occupy a large part of California’s vineyards. But there is a select set of conditions that produce Chardonnay fruit that has the potential to make award winning wine. Because of the complexity of viticulture, there are a seemingly endless number of variables that affect vines, and thus the grapes.

The natural world controls most of these variables, so it is in the hands of the growers to plant the right varietals for the conditions inherent in their vineyards. Chardonnay vines delight in long moderate days, with cool nights. Although they can thrive in many different soil types, rich alluvial soil usually produces the best fruit from Chardonnay vines.

It is then in the hands of the winemakers to turn the grape into a delectable wine. Because of the unique climate and geology of the Sonoma Valley, wineries can attract some of the best winemakers in the world. These winemakers use techniques including malolactic fermentation and barrel aging to produce approachable, full bodied Chardonnays with buttery, creamy flavors and textures. But every winemaker will tell you that fantastic wine comes from the vineyards.

The Sonoma Valley is separated from the Napa Valley by the Mayacamas Mountain range. Located to the west, the Sonoma Valley is exposed to a distinctly different set of conditions that affect Napa. The fog from the San Pablo Bay creeps along the valley floor, making a cooling effect that is extremely beneficial to Chardonnay grapes.

The diversity of the Sonoma Valley is uncanny; each vineyard is exposed to a distinct set of conditions which makes their grapes and wines unique. Because the mean daily temperature rises as you go north through the valley, Chardonnay vines typically do best in the southernmost regions.

The soil of the Sonoma Valley AVA is part of a geologic phenomenon known as the Franciscan Complex. These soils are the result of the Sonoma Volcanics, which deposited ash and silt throughout the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The result of the Franciscan complex is shallow soil that is rich in nutrients.

The soil from the Sonoma Valley AVA produces Chardonnay fruit with distinct flavors and incredible complexity. In my opinion, the crème de la crème of Sonoma Valley Chardonnay producing wineries is Landmark Winery. Their flagship Overlook Chardonnay is regarded by many as one of the top Chardonnays in California. It is an brilliant addition to any cellar.

Ben Bicais has written many articles about calwineries.com/explore/regions/sonoma-county”/>Sonoma Valley Wineries.



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