Chalk Hill Chardonnay
Note: We received the Chalk Hill Chardonnay as a sample for review.
Chalk Hill winery lies in the Russian River Valley, south of Healdsburg. We brought the wine with us on a weekend away in the California coastal town of Gualala. The drive crosses the Russian River at its mouth as it pours into the Pacific Ocean. Our two previous visits were in the winter, but this weekend the sun was warm and the sky was blue: ideal for a bottle of Chardonnay.
The Chalk Hill Chardonnay does not bear the name Russian River. Nor for that matter the Chalk Hill AVA in which the winery sits. This wine comes from the Sonoma Coast AVA. This region covers the entire coast of the county, from San Pablo Bay in the South to the Mendocino County line.
The light golden colour of the wine suggested judicous use of oak. The nose of the Chalk Hill Chardonnay was not subtle. It was heavily laden with vanilla and pineapple. This offered a conflicting message to the subtle hue. The taste resolved the issue in favour of the colour. This is not an over-oaked brute; quite the reverse. There is no doubt that the wine has aged in some new oak. However, there is a complex blend of green apple and tropical pineapple. A dry dust floats in the finish.
I like Chardonnay to be acidic and austere. The wine is rounder and softer than I prefer. It does have a definite character and is not weighed down by an over abundance of oak. Online it sells for between $15 and $20. At this price many Chardonnays are bland or saturated with oak. It may not be to my taste, but it exhibits an unusual amount of character for a wine at this price.