Seeking a Good Bottle of Buttery California Chardonnay Wine

Oh Bottle of Buttery Chardonnay Wine….
…..Where Art Thou?

Searching for a good California bottle of Chardonnay wine is a prodigious task. With all the great wine California produces, we are looking for a buttery bottle for our yacht club inventory. There are thousands of bottles of good wine from which to choose.

Our search brought us to Wine Warehouse’s trade tasting, held in Irvine, California. It’s one of six the the spirit distributor holds throughout California during the year.

With thousands of wines available, from 182 vintners, the six participating committee members were like little kids in a candy store. There was so much to see and do. At least 500 people crowded the main ballroom of Hotel Irvine on a Monday afternoon looking for beverages to share in their bars, restaurants, country clubs and yacht clubs.

‘That seems like an awful lot of wine to taste, except when you spit, because you’re tasting – you’re not drinking…..’

Our journey took us alphabetically around the room with our first stop at Cabernet Corporation where we tasted their 2012 Chardonnay Block Selection. It’s a fine Chardonnay without overbearing oak (what some call butter.)

So let’s go through the list of stops, and what we can share.

2012 La Playa Estates Block Selection (Cabernet Corp.) ✰
2013 Fess Parker Chardonnay-Santa Barbara Hills (Fess Parker Winery) ✰+
2012 Fess Parker Ashley’s Santa Rita Hills (Fess Parker Winery) ✰+
2012 J. Lohr  Chardonnay Riverstone, Arroyo Seco  ✰+
2012 Vigilance Lake County Chardonnay (70% Oak-Shannon Ridge Family) ✰+
2013 Shannon Ridge Family Sauvignon Blanc Lake County ✰+

After tasting our way through our target Chardonnays, we were able to visit some of our favorite bottles of wine, things like Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.

2012 La Playa Block Selection Claret ✰
2011 J. Lohr Estates Pinot Noir Falcon’s Perch, Monterey ✰
2011 Moss Roxx Ancient Vines Zinfandel  (100+ year old Lodi vine, Smokey with a touch of Petite Sirah from Oak Ridge Winery) ✰+
2012 Old Soul Vineyards Zinfandel (60+ year old Lodi vine with a touch of Merlot and Petite Sirah from Oak Ridge Winery) ✰+ +
2012 Old Zin Vines Zinfandel (jammy, fruit forward from Lodi’s Oak Ridge Winery) ✰+
2011 Vigilance Petite Sirah, Lake County (Shannon Ridge Family)  ✰+
2012 Trentadue Winery Zinfandel, Alexander Valley  ✰+

That seems like an awful lot of wine to taste, except when you spit, because you’re tasting – you’re not drinking, you can savor these wines and walk from the room unimpaired. In fact, it was a pleasure to see staff empty spit and pour buckets from tables throughout the room. This was a room full of professional restauranteurs and bar owners. They know the dangers of drinking too much, or imbibing too much. It was a pleasure to be in a room where people understood their responsibilities, and didn’t over drink, just savoring the wine.

You’ll find some of these wines at Total Wine and Bevmo (Fess Parker, J. Lohr, Oak Ridge & Shannon Ridge Family) while others are available only at bars and restaurants.

Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Temecula.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, expecially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.

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