It’s easy to hate on California Chardonnay, but not all bottles are created equally. Mindful producers in cooler climates can create balanced, layered versions, even when employing barrel aging. Sonoma County is an excellent region to explore for restrained Chardonnay wines, particularly now, when Napa and Sonoma producers are imploring wine lovers to drink wines from these regions to support wildfire recovery efforts. Bottles like the Donelan Wines “Nancie” Chardonnay certainly don’t make the task a hardship.
A blend of Chardonnay grapes from across Sonoma County, the “Nancie” Chardonnay is an excellent example of a wine that isn’t exactly Old World in style, but also doesn’t turn the volume up painfully high on the alcohol and oak. Just 20 percent is aged in new French oak for 10 months, a relatively small percentage, comparatively.
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Upon first sniff, the “Nancie” Chardonnay is double-faceted, both refreshing and succulent at the same time. The scent is like crunchy red apple mingled with cool, clean morning dew, along with waxy, vanilla-scented candle richness. While it’s round and full on the palate, with spice and herbal accents, this Chardonnay maintains its freshness despite being aged in oak.