Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay 2006

Californian Chardonnay is to be steered clear of in my experience, if you
Posted 12th November 2010        

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Californian Chardonnay is to be steered clear of in my experience, if you don’t like oak or butter and prefer your white wines to be on the crisp and citrusy side.

If, however, you are like me and prefer a good Chardonnay to any other white wine varietal and like it to be robust enough to stand up to the hardest of cheeses, all chicken dishes, tuna steaks and even lamb then this is a wine for you.

If you can’t or won’t drink red wine then this provides a viable alternative as it is powerful enough to substitute most Beaujolais and young Burgundies too. I bought this wine not only because I like Chardonnay but because I got tired of drinking Sauvignon Blanc in the summer at barbecues and also knew that I could hog it all to myself as not many other people would like it because of its very oaky and full-on style!

Sonoma-Cutrer vineyards were founded in Windsor, California in 1973. Initially they provided grapes to other winemaking companies and their chardonnay grapes developed a premium reputation for quality which drove a high level of demand. Off the back of this, the company decided to start making their own wine and a new winery was started in 1981 and built with the latest technology and know-how in the industry. Today they still enjoy a reputation that is second to none and provide the number one selling Chardonnay in America’s finest restaurants.

The grapes for this wine come from the vineyards in the Sonoma Appellation, ideal for the growing of Chardonnay because of both climate and topography. Undergoing complete malolactic fermentation in oak, the wine is a deep yellowy-gold colour (indicating some age) and very viscous in the glass showing a relatively high level of alcohol content. On the nose the wine is unmistakably Chardonnay – oak and vanilla mustiness combine with ginger, lemon zest and caramel butter. To the taste the wine is rich and dense and broad and firm on the palate with flavours of lemon, apple, pear and melon. The aftertaste is dry, long and lingering, with a touch of spicy oak.

Perfect food matches include hard goat’s and sheep’s cheeses, fish and shellfish with strong flavours (tuna, crab) and barbecue roasted chicken.

Available at time of publication from Majestic at £14.99 a bottle.

Marks out of 100 – 95


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Meet the Author:
Donald lives in Tadworth, Surrey and is originally from Durban in South Africa. He developed an appreciation for wine at a relatively young age mainly in thanks to his francophile mother who served it (just one glass mind!) with food around the dining table and taught him to appreciate, enjoy and acknowledge its ability to complement and even enhance good food. This appreciation grew stronger in his early twenties when he met like-minded buyers and drinkers of wine while working behind a bar as a student and also realised that a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon was a better pairing with barbecued red meat than any beer could ever be. Now all he pretty much drinks is wine – of all colours and styles – and enjoys collecting wines he likes to drink. Favourites include (but are not restricted to!) New World Pinot Noirs, most red Rhone varietals, the deeply dark and tannic wines from South-West France, big, creamy, oaked and over-the-top Chardonnays and the sweet white wines of Monbazillac and Sauternes. Donald prides himself on a relatively in-depth knowledge of the South African wine industry. He has visited many of the top wine estates in the Cape and will gladly try and convert the most sceptic, ignorant and staunchest critics of SA wine. If he won the lottery Donald freely admits he would buy a wine estate somewhere in the world and grow old in no great rush while getting his feet wet with grape juice.