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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Classy, Restrained California Chardonnay

Donum Estate Chardonnay Carneros Inaugural Release 2007

Thomas Matthews
Posted: June 18, 2009

I visited Sonoma and Napa in early June to attend our "Bring Your Own Magnum" parties, and ended my trip with a visit to my brother Bob and his family in Berkeley, Calif. They are wine lovers, so I wanted to take a nice bottle. I stopped into Groezinger's, an old, excellent shop in Yountville, and asked for advice about Chardonnay. The knowledgeable young clerk recommended the 2007 Donum Estate Carneros.

It was a bit pricey, at $65, but we all liked it a lot. The flavors were subdued but complex, with notes of papaya, mango, coconut and lime. Full and lush in the mouth, it remained focused and balanced, with lively acidity that kept the wine fresh through the long finish. I rated it 92 points, non-blind.

This is the first Chardonnay release from Donum, which has previously focused on Pinot Noir. (See our New Faces profile of Donum Estate from 2004.) Winemaker Kenneth Juhasz used estate-grown, Wente clone fruit, fermented and aged the wine in one-year-old French barrels, and used only partial malolactic fermentation (hence the lively acidity and unobtrusive oak flavors). His blog states that he seeks "a delicate balance between power and elegance," and I think he found it in this wine.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Chardonnays, plus our quick list of Top Values in California Chardonnay.

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