2013 Woodenhead Chardonnay

Buena Tierra Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA; 14.3% ABV
Purchased at Palo Alto for $7.99 on December 3, 2016

woodenhead_chard_origI was really excited to see a wine from Woodenhead show up at GO. This winery is known for their Zins and Pinots, both of which are regularly well received by major publications and priced mid-30’s to mid-40’s per bottle. A single vineyard, Russian River, unfined and unfiltered Chardonnay from a quality producer sounded like a sure bet. Alas, this is “the wine that almost was.”

The wine pours a medium gold with clear edges, and on the palate showed great intensity with pear and some gala apple with well integrated oak and enough acidity to keep everything fresh. However, even these great qualities were not enough to overcome the offputting and unrelenting sulfer odor in the nose. I kept the wine open for almost a week, hoping the sulfer would eventually blow off. While it did fade somewhat, it never went away.

Surprised, I returned to the web to try to find more information on this specific wine. It’s as if the winery has wiped all traces of this wine’s production. Tech sheets abound for past vintages of all of their other wines, yet a search for this wine yielded nothing. An effort that didn’t meet winery standards that appears to have never been marketed and quietly sold off to Grocery Outlet. Pass on this one.


11 thoughts on “2013 Woodenhead Chardonnay

  1. dluber

    Ah that surfer odor…sweaty, peed-in wetsuit, rinsed with seawater, smoky cannabis notes – the scent of summer!

    As for sulfur, can you be more specific? Generally there are two kinds:

    1. Sulfite (SO2, the oxidized form, which counterintuitively is used as an antioxidant) – this is the smell of burning matches, it will dissipate with air and time, although if the wine was massively overdosed, will cause other permanent changes (flaws)

    2. Sulfide (H2S, the reduced form, always present at low levels but undesirable) – this is the rotten-egg smell, it is not as easily gotten rid of, requiring copper treatment or aggressive aeration/CO2 scrubbing. Left long enough in the right conditions, it can develop into disulfides and mercaptans, which are even stinkier (sewer gas, rotten cabbage, skunk) and harder to get rid of – the wine’s usually a write-off at that point.

    Here’s an overview: http://palatepress.com/2010/03/wine/brimstone-in-the-bottle-sulfur-compounds-in-wine/

    1. seedboy

      To be sure I’d have to buy another bottle; I think, however, it was sulfite, because it did blow off some with time (at least, it did for me).

    2. Darrell

      Good article on the derivatives of sulfur. I have complained before about the use of the word sulfur here since elemental sulfur is odorless. In the old days, German wines quite often had too much SO2 and tasters wouldn’t so much experience a stinging sensation as much as a sneeze inducing reaction. Sulfides and thiols ( mercaptans) in winemaking are usually just plain smelly and stinky and can’t be confused with the match stick odor. I qualify thiols in winemaking because some thiols aren’t offensive.

  2. seedboy

    I so wanted to like this wine but I had the same problem with it. I suspect that the winery never “released” it, just sold it off to the GO, and that is why there is no internet presence. I’ve not had any Cairdean chard yet. Has anyone tried the Saintsbury? It is not cheap but that is a reputable winery. I still like the Field Notes and occasionally see it in stores that don’t sell a lot of wine (Pinole, for instance).

    1. davidlikeswine Post author

      Hi SB! I tried the Saintsbury (there should be a full review if you scroll back a bit on the main feed). The brief synopsis of what I thought is that it’s a good wine, well made, no flaws, but for $13 GO dollars, a bit overpriced. Took some time to come together, but was there by day 2.

      1. zoeldar

        Totally align with this take on the Saintsbury. Solid, no flaws, just not that exciting. The Cairdean Chards are miles ahead – all of them – just don’t serve too chilled. I’m finding that they are far better at 60 degrees vs. right outta the fridge.

    2. Keith Peters

      I had both the Cairdean and Sainsbury chardonnays. Both are worth their prices. The Sainsbury is a little more mineral. Don’t over-chill it. The Cairdean is drinkable. Has some decent flavors. Both wines are worth drinking. I’ve had them each one and will buy them again. Wish the Sainsbury was closer to $10, probably what it’s worth.

  3. davidlikeswine Post author

    Oh my goodness, how embarrassing! Yes, “sulfer” not “surfer.” Thanks for the catch! Yes, I was really bummed this one didn’t pan out. It had almost all the right ingredients. Sounds like the 2012 Cairdean Carneros Chardonnay is the hot pick right now. Any other Chardonnay recommendations out there?

  4. Zoel

    Wow – really helpful, as I would have been excited about this bottle as well. I will presume you meant “sulfur” and and not surfer, as those dudes may have an odor, but not one normally associated with off-production wines. Bummer on this possibility…


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