California’s Anderson Valley in Mendocino Country has developed a reputation over the last couple of decades for being a top appellation for Pinot Noir — with some of its wines rivaling those of the Russian River Valley and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The cool-climate area is also producing some exquisite Chardonnays, including this standout from Domaine Anderson, a California property of famed Champagne house Louis Roederer.
To say that this estate-grown wine is easy to drink is both true and an oversimplification. It’s easy to drink because it’s unencumbered by the harsh qualities that too much reliance on oak — especially new American oak — can bring. Unrestrained use of wood has been the appeal, or the curse, of so many California Chardonnays, depending on your preference. (By now I’m sure you can tell where I stand.)
Fortunately, an increasing number of California wineries are going easy on the oak and keeping alcohol levels in check as well, making way for other qualities in their wines to shine. Are we at the start of a new age of more refined California Chardonnays? I think we just might be.
In any event, Domaine Anderson’s 2017 Chardonnay hits the mark with its tastes of green and yellow apples, orange and lime zest, and a touch of honeysuckle. It finishes with mild floral and herb notes; hints of nutmeg and butterscotch are squeezed in by just the right amount of oak exposure.
This is one of the more elegant California Chardonnays you’ll find in the $30 range — a top-value wine that will pair with a wide range of foods, including roast chicken and pork, fish with rich sauces, and risotto with shrimp and asparagus. You’ll thoroughly enjoy it just sipping it on its own, as well.
I also appreciate that the wine is still in current release after a few years or so of bottle age. With no rough edges at this point, it’s in its prime and ready to drink.