Wine Spectator's James Laube reports that California Chardonnay is breaking out of its stylistic holding pattern with a spectrum of wines that reflect some careful rethinking on the part of winemakers. It's not a wholesale change, but rather a subtle shift. More grapes are being picked at lower sugars and higher acids, and from cooler vineyard sites. More wines are being made with less oak-or without oak entirely-and no malolactic fermentation, the secondary fermentation that produces a more familiar style of richness and depth. Fans of this less-is-more approach will find a lot to like among recent releases on retail shelves and wine lists.
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