We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
Many people absolutely adore Chardonnay, while others find it overrated and overdone. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, it has to be one of the single most enjoyed grape varieties on Earth. My own thoughts have changed over the years about Chardonnay. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. I do know I have personally come to prefer Chardonnay that has been barreled. The grape itself, unless blended, offers a neutral character. This means it might offer nothing overly complex or mind boggling when fermented dry, and in steel tanks only. This is why the majority of winemakers who produce Chard every year, tend to at minimum, age the wine in oak barrels. Typically, the wine will go through malolactic fermentation as well as oak aging to bring out character, mouthfeel, and the telltale buttery texture wine lovers have come to enjoy.
We are proud to review another wine from the Matchbook Wine Company. You can read our last review of another one of their wines here. This time around it is the classic wine discussed above, Chardonnay. This wine is 100% estate fruit, which means grown, produced, cellared, and bottled within the AVA. It is not an easy task to achieve with large production, but the Giguiere family is committed to mostly all estate grown grapes, and integrity in labeling. The wine is comprised of six different clones of Chardonnay (grown in the Dunnigan Hills AVA east of Napa Valley), to increase complexity. All fruit was harvested at night, and brought in before sunrise to ensure cool, rested grapes were crushed. A cocktail of compatible yeasts were utilized to ferment the wine. Clone 809 was fermented alone in steel tanks to retain its muscat character, while the remaining five clones were fermented and aged in French, American, and Hungarian oak barrels. It was aged on the lees for eight months, performing weekly battonage (stirring).
The wine shows its true color as it pours into the glass a light straw with a golden rim. The nose is complex from the get-go offering notes of lemon tarts, honeydew, and freshly peeled lemon rinds. The palate is driven by citrus and butter. Nuances of lemon candy, limes, cantaloupe, honeydew, and buttered toast send the senses into overdrive. The mouthfeel is full and textural; there is nothing boring about this wine.
- Matchbook Old Head Chardonnay, 2015 vintage
- Appellation: California, Dunnigan Hills AVA
- Grape varieties: 100% Chardonnay
- Barrels: 78% 2-5 year old barrels, 22% new oak barrels
- Clarity/brightness: Clear/bright with no detectable flaws, and no evidence of gas or sediment
- Tannins: Low
- Acidity: High
- Alcohol: Medium
- Finish: Medium plus
- Alcohol by volume: 13.9%
- pH: 3.73
- Retail price: $15.00 at the time of review
- Cases produced: 48,000
This bottle of Old Head (old head meaning used oak barrels) Chardonnay is impressive for the price. It competes with many others in the $15-20 price range, but with a bit more sophistication and elegance than some. It is not driven by malolactic fermentation, as the buttery aspect is minimal and well balanced. It is always nice to taste the fruit instead of oak and butter with a north coast California Chardonnay. My pet peeve was once again jostled when I saw the cheap cork seated in the neck of the bottle, but the wine inside is quite nice.
I highly recommend this wine to anyone looking for the Chateau Montelena style of Chardonnay, as in more of a quality wine, than a wine hidden behind butter and oak. I do believe this wine has the potential to age for many years, and it should prove to get better as the years pass. I think it will be a killer wine in 5-6 years.
Sip, savor, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.