Wine O’Clock: Bighorn Cellars Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay 2007

22 Jun

Chardonnay exploded onto the California wine scene in the 1970’s with the hometown boys of Chateau Montelena besting the French in the famous Judgement of Paris in 1976.  By 1988, plantings of Chardonnay in California surpassed those in all of France.  By 2005, California-grown Chardonnay accounted for 100,000 acres or 25% of the world’s Chardonnay plantings.  Those Left Coasters know their way around the grape.  I have come to love Chardonnay from Sonoma and Napa since I poured a Sonoma vs. Napa tasting at Barriques in Middleton  a few months ago.  The best examples I have tried have expertly balanced New World-style tropical fruits with soft, buttery oakiness for a sublimely complex-yet-smooth experience.

The Bighorn Cellars Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 comes from the Los Carneros AVA, which is in the Sourthernmost extent of Napa.  As such, the grapes are soothed by ample coastal fog and bay breezes that allow the grapes to develop complexity without ripening too quickly.  This offering is currently a tasting selection at Barriques Wine & Spirits in Middleton.

Bighorn Cellars Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay 2007

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay

Vitals: Los Carneros AVA (Napa); 14.4% abv; ~$25/bottle

Company Line: “Our 2007 Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay is an exquisite example of the varietal, showcasing an excellent range of fruit on the nose from pineapple and tropical fruits to ripe pear, orange-blossom and brioche. The palate is tantalizing, lush and full bodied with flavors of grilled pineapple and apricot…

Gold Medal Winner – 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Tasting

My take: pale lemon yellow in the glass.  Nose exhibits ample overripe tropical fruits with an undercurrent of caramel apple and braised pear.  Full-bodied on the palate, bringing fruity notes of overripe pineapple, dried apricot and bright citrus over an undercurrent of smooth, understated buttercream.  Finishes clean with a mild lemon twist.  A highly drinkable chardonnay exhibiting the balance of fruit and oak that Sonoma and Napa examples are known for.  Reminds me of the fantastic La Crema Chardonnay from Sonoma that I poured during a recent early spring tasting.  I don’t think anyone does balanced, well-composed chardonnay like Bay Area winemakers.

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