May 21 was National Chardonnay Day. Chardonnay, America’s bestselling white wine is beloved by wine lovers around the world. While this grape originated in France’s Burgundy region, it has found a home in most major winegrowing areas worldwide, including every primary wine appellation in California. Chardonnay flavor profiles range from rich, buttery, powerful wines to lean clean unoaked styles. Winemakers love this grape because it adapts well to a variety of climates and have high yields and through the aromas and flavors can change greatly due to oak regimen, malolactic fermentation, aging and more.
But, Chardonnay in America has to thank the first family of Chardonnay, the Wente Family. You cannot think of Chardonnay and not think of Wente Vineyards. Carl H. Wente founded Wente Vineyards in Livermore Valley in 1883. Second generation winemaker Ernest Wente was a student at UC Davis and imported Chardonnay cuttings from Burgundy to California to explore the varietal’s potential in the soil of his native state. It was this this early dedication that helped product the first varietally-labeled Chardonnay in America in 1936. And it set the stage for the creation of the world-renowned “Wente Clone” which has been used in most vineyards in the U.S. and is the foundation of some the most famous white wines in the New World.
By 1960 the French wine and food magazine Guide Michelin reprinted a Los Angeles Times review that called the Wente Chardonnay the finest white wine in America, equal to the great white wines of France. This put Wente Vineyards on the worldwide wine map and has given them the notable distinction of being California’s First Family of Chardonnay. Today California grows almost 100,000 acres of Chardonnay, more than 20% of the varietal’s total worldwide acreage, and the Wente clone has become the most widely planted in the state.
Today, after more than 130 years, Wente Vineyards continues the family’s commitment to producing 100% estate grown sustainably farmed wines in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay area and Arroyo Seco in Monterey.
Wente Vineyards 2013 Morning Fog Livermore Valley Chardonnay offers crisp flavors of green apple and tropical fruit with a touch of vanilla and toasty oak. It has a nice full body and balanced acidity leading to a medium-ling refreshing finish.
Wente Vineyards 2013 Riva Ranch Chardonnay from Arroyo Seco in Monterey County is a particular favorite reflecting the terroir of this perfect Chardonnay region. You will love the tropical fruit aromas and flavors tied with great acidity and creamy notes of butter, vanilla and soft oak. As Karl D. Wente, Fifth Generation Winemaker, says, “Our Riva Ranch Chardonnay is beautifully rich, yet balanced style of Chardonnay that represents what the Arroyo Seco appellation has to give. This is distinctly a California style of Chardonnay, but is consistently well balanced with ample acidity.”
The Wente 2014 Small Lot Eric’s Chardonnay is from Livermore Valley, where the grapes are handpicked and sorted at harvest time in order to ensure premium quality. This unoaked Chardonnay is a favored style of Fourth Generation Winemaker Eric Wente. It is clear and bright with a nice balance of fruit and acidity making it refreshing by itself or with food. You will enjoy the Chardonnay fruit qualities shining through with lemon zest, green apple, citrus, pear, pineapple, and nectarine.
In honor of National Chardonnay Day on May 21 pick up a bottle of Wente Chardonnay and toast this fine grape. You are encouraged to share your photos, videos and comments through your social channels tagging #WenteChard and #ChardonnayDay.
For more information: Wente Vineyards