Sometimes we look in unlikely places to find what we are seeking in this column: wines that are easy to cellar. We’re talking about affordable and findable wines that don’t take forever to blossom into mature gems.
American chardonnay is probably pretty low on your list when it comes to stocking your cellar. Most people think of American chardonnay as high octane, oaked out white wine meant to give the drinker an immediate jolt of pleasure before limping off to an early death. This stereotype does, unfortunately, describe far too many bottles of Californian Chardonnay.
The truth is, there is plenty of great Californian Chard that is made to give lasting pleasure and to develop in your cellar. It is rarely all that expensive. There is plenty of it available in our shop. And in this day and age of premoxing white Burgundy, it’s definitely worth taking a look at some alternatives!
Here are some good choices:
Stony Hill Chardonnay 2008 ($44.99) – Stony Hill Chardonnay has an almost legendary ability to age. Like old-school Chablis, this is no-malo Chard, so the wine is filled with sharper, apple-tinged acidity that keeps the wine fresh for a long time. The staff here have had plenty of stunning old bottles of this wine!
Montelena Chardonnay 2009 ($49.99) – This wine is an icon of California wine’s golden age, the 1970s, when elegance was supreme on the west coast. In fact, it is this wine that beat out top white Burgundies in the Judgment of Paris in 1976. Unlike many other classic producers, Montelena uses exactly the same recipe for making its wine as it did back then. Buy and cellar with confidence.
Arnot Roberts, Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, 2011 ($34.99) – OK, so no one has yet proven that this particular wine ages well, as AR is a relatively new winery, but how could it not? It is balanced, and loaded with freshness and flavor, and Santa Cruz chardonnay from the likes of Ridge has a great track record. At a great price, this one’s worth the chance!
Eyrie, Original Vines Reserve Chardonnay, 2009 ($47.99) – Already wow-inducing, this Oregon Chard is guaranteed to improve for many years to come. After tasting through bottlings of this from the 1970s and 1980s, Jancis Robinson wrote “I started wondering just how many Burgundian domaines could present an array of white wines that has lasted as consistently well”.