Carñeros AVA, CA; 14.3% ABV
$6 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 30 Sept
After Lim13 and I liked the California-designated Whiplash Chardonnays (2010, 2011) from Reata, I jumped on this bottle with a Carñeros designation. Carñeros is at the southern end of Sonoma Valley (but see comments) and gets cooler air off the bay during the day, generally producing (what I regard as) more balanced Chardonnays than in hotter areas like the Napa Valley floor.
Indeed, at least on the first night, this wine does not show the heavy ripeness of warmer-area Chardonnay. Instead, it gives flavors of medium-ripe yellow apple and lemon, something I might call white fruit (not sure of a specific example) and flowers, and a lighter orange fruit that could be cantaloupe or orange-fleshed peach. It’s well-balanced by ample but not overwhelming acid, and supported by gentle oak. On the Reata web site, they brag about the tropical fruit flavors in the 2012 bottling of this wine, but this wine seems much less tropical to me than the 2010 Whiplash. (At least 85% of a wine’s grapes must come from the labeled AVA for it to receive that designation.) At times, especially early on, the wine tasted slightly oxidized, but it went away with a little air, and shouldn’t be a problem if drunk soon.
I had thought it might improve the second day, but I was surprised how much better I liked it. The wine was far more integrated, full-bodied, and “tropical,” with nicely ripe pineapple coming to the fore. There was also less noticeable lemon and “white fruit and flowers”. The orange fruit was also more hidden in the background, but all the complexity was still there if you dug for it. Definite Thumbs Up IMO.