Artesa Winery - Chardonnays

Artesa Winery has three Chardonnays amongst its offerings. Two are widely available, while a third is a more limited release. I'll look at two of them today, both from the 2006 vintage. The first Chardonnay is from their classic tier. The 2006 Chardonnay Carneros is the largest Chardonnay bottling Artesa produces. More than 30,000 cases of this wine were made. The fruit was hand harvested and 50% of it was barrel fermented. This wine is generally available for approximately $15.

The nose of this wine is loaded with baked granny smith apple, vanilla and nutmeg notes. From the very first sip through the palate apple notes are the most dominant. An undercurrent of citrus comes out in a subtle manner as well. Spice notes carry through the palate as well, along with gentle but persistent acidity. The finish of this wine is above average. Lingering apple pie spice notes are accompanied by a lighter, buttery undertone.

What I like best about this wine is it's versatility It's crisp and refreshing enough to drink on it's own but has enough layers, complexity and overall stuffing to pair with poultry, seared pork or cream based dishes. For about $15 this is a nice value.

The second Artesa Winery Chardonnay is the 2006 Carneros Estate Reserve. The production on this one was just over 3,000 cases.  Half of the wine spent over 9 months in new French oak. The suggested retail on the reserve in $26.

The nose of the reserve presents apple, vanilla and strong smoke characteristics. The palate has scone and biscuit note along with continued apple, spice and smoke. Nutmeg, apple, subtle Asian pear and apple pie crust notes dot the persistent, layered, lengthy finish.

The oak treatment on this wine makes itself known in several of the flavor components but it's unobtrusive. Compared to the other Chardonnay, the reserve is more structured and far more tightly wound.

What I like best about the reserve Chardonnay is that it's modestly priced for a reserve, especially one I'd feel comfortable tucking away in my cellar for 3-5 years.

Both of these Artesa wines are fine examples of Chardonnay. The question comes down to what type of Chardonnay you like. The first one with it's Carneros designation is a great choice for everyday drinking and offers a lot of pleasure. The reserve veers towards, but short of, being in the "California-style" with it's buttery and oak influenced notes. Personally I lean towards the Carneros over the reserve, but both are well made and fairly priced.

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