Monday, January 16, 2023

Hold On To Your Hat For This Chardonnay

Cline Family Cellars is a family-owned wine producer in California's Sonoma County. They are located on a beautiful ranch and are celebrating the company’s 40th anniversary. 

Fred Cline writes that his Carneros Chardonnay - Hat Strap - was named for the habit of cinching one's hat strap while walking the vineyard as the winds from San Pablo Bay blow across the vines. It's that wind that helps keep the climate cool for the grapes to increase their hang time, which increases their flavor. It also has cost more than a few people their hats.

The grapes - from Los Carneros - were fermented in a mixture of steel tanks and oak barrels, with 10 months aging, which took place mostly in French oak. A little more than a third of the wine was aged in first-use wood, a third in neutral barrels and the rest was aged in stainless steel tanks. Extended contact with the spent yeast cells resulted in 100% malolactic fermentation, using a bacteria designed to inhibit buttery notes. Alcohol sits at 14.5% abv and the wine retails for $30.

The 2021 Hat Strap Chardonnay from Cline colors up very pale in the glass and offers a nice nose of lemon, apricot and white pepper. The palate frames the fruit with savory herbs like sage. The acidity is lively enough to pair with salads, pasta with cream or lemon sauce and mushroom risotto. The finish is long and savory with a strong streak of salinity in it. This one of the better Chardonnays I have had in a while.  

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