Chardonnay is a varietal much loved by the US and the world over – in fact, Chardonnay is the most planted varietal in the world and the leading one in America from the Vinifera grapes. Each AVA region in the US has a different style in which they produce their Chardonnay. Some styles are full, heavy and intensely wooded, where some regions lean more towards a fresher, fruitier, unwooded style. In California, the famous Napa Valley has been known to produce some excellent Chardonnays in both these styles. Here are some Wineries that show interesting diversity with its Chardonnays.
Alpha Omega Winery was only founded very recently – in 2006 – but has managed to create quite the name for themselves; producing wines of peerless quality. What makes these wines unique, is the combination of modern, as well as old-world techniques. This hand-crafted brand is dedicated to uniqueness and exploring new and exciting ways of producing great wine. When it comes to their Chardonnays, they truly shine. Producing both an oaked and an unoaked Chardonnay, Alpha Omega created major waves at the International Chardonnay Symposium in 2016 for their 2013 Chardonnay Reserve. With only a few hundred bottles produced, this wine is intensely full and rich with exceptional citrus fruit flavor and minerality. This Chardonnay was barrel fermented and is beautifully balanced – truly highlighting the quality this estate can produce.
With some skilled and experienced winemakers involved at Harken, it is no wonder that the wine produced here has managed to gain quite the reputation. With the focus on creating old-school, heavy Chardonnays, Harken has received accolade after accolade for their spectacular Chardonnay. Their 2016 Vintage managed to score 87 points with the Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 90 points with Blue Lifestyle tasting panel and silver medals with both the Citrus Challenge and Los Angeles International Wine Competition. This 2016 Chardonnay has beautiful layers of fruit and oak flavors with the complexity lingering on your palate. Harken’s previous Chardonnay vintages prove just as successful, also managing to score sterling points and receive medals for the value and brilliance of their wine. Their wine is generally considered easy drinking, complex with a profound balance of fruit and oak.
The Withers wine was initially not created to be released to the public, but rather to drink among friends and family. However, due to the great love and appreciation for the wine, the wine was encouraged to be released commercially. The basis of all the wine released under the Withers label, they produce wines that are consistently riveting while constantly striving for greatness, and staying true to nature. Unlike Harken’s or Alpha Omega’s Chardonnay, the Chardonnays produced by The Withers are crisp and have clear minerality. Their Chardonnay is wooded but is more in the style of the Chablis region – leaving an elegant, velvety texture in your mouth. The 2016 Chardonnay is part of why The Withers Winery was declared as part of the Top 100 Wineries by the Wine and Spirits Magazine.
2016 Proved to be an exceptional year for most producers across the region – and in return, some extraordinary wines are right at our fingertips. These three producers are only a handful of the many but lesser known Napa producers that have managed to do great things with Chardonnay – and the future seems to hold only more great potential for more exquisite wines to come from Napa ranging from the big and known players down to the up and coming.