Wine Reviews: California Wines to Beat the Heat

Apparently, August 4 is National White Wine Day. And considering the seemingly endless heat across most of the country, the timing sure seems right.

It’s 96 and humid where I am in the Mid-Atlantic, and I know it is a lot worse in other regions. I honestly can’t even think about red wine at the moment, so let’s dive into some delicious California white wines.

From a shockingly good $15 Chard to Chalk Hill and Carneros, this is a Chardonnay heavy sampling, but there’s a lot of diversity in here. Chalk Hill delivers three intriguing offerings, and I have a few from well-known names like Sonoma-Cutrer and Ferrari-Carano. If you haven’t heard of Lange Twins   or Bouchaine, these two producers make some well-balanced Chardonnays at reasonable price points. Bouchaine’s winemaker Chris Kajani makes more than a dozen Chards, and his skills show.

To top things off, I have two unique white wines from Napa’s Mira Winery. I’ve long been a fan of their reds – the Malbec and Cabernet Franc are exquisite – but these two wines are new to me: a skin-fermented Cabernet Franc (OK, so it’s not technically a “white wine”) and a Sauvignon Gris that’s perfect for high-end summer sipping.

These wines were received as samples. The Chardonnays were tasted single-blind, while the Mira wines were tasted sighted.

2021 Harken Chardonnay Barrel Fermented USA, California
SRP: $15
Deep yellow color. A ripe nose of lemon curd, yellow apples, and pear butter, with notes of almond, graham cracker, saltines, and some tropical flowers. The palate is juicy and ripe with yellow apples and pears, and medium acidity, which helps it stay bright and balance out the richer tones. Honey, graham cracker, and white tea notes add some fun vibes. There’s some flinty, floral complexity, too. A fun, surprisingly complex value Chardonnay that tastes way more “real” than most Chardonnays in this price point. Aged eight months in 50/50 American/French oak. (88 points IJB)

2022 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Sonoma Coast USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $20
Light yellow color. Rich pears and yellow apples with almond, honey, graham cracker, with fresher tones of white and yellow flowers, chalk dust. The palate shows a delightful creaminess but refreshing acidity, all balanced nicely. Juicy lemon, yellow apples, creamy pears, along with flinty, seashell vibes, and nuances of almond skin, honeycomb, and peanut brittle. Deep but vibrant, balanced, a delightful Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. (89 points IJB)

2021 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Estate USA, California, Sonoma County, Chalk Hill
SRP: $52
Rich yellow color. Juicy aromas of white peach, yellow apples, and pear butter, along with inviting tones of cinnamon and almond cake, with notes of honey, dandelion, and white flowers, too. A creamy, rich texture with bright acidity keeps things balanced wonderfully, and I love the flavors of yellow apples and pears, some nectarine. There is a pleasant mix of honey, graham cracker, sea salt, with honeysuckle and some nougat. There’s a tingly, mineral-laden finish. Aged 11 months in 42% new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2021 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Felta USA, California, Sonoma County, Chalk Hill
SRP: $90
Light yellow color. The nose exudes lemons, pears, green apples, with nuanced tones of sea salt, cinnamon crumb cake, shaved ginger, and mineral water. The palate sports an invitingly creamy texture, balanced with focused acidity, and a rich and juicy appeal with yellow apples, kiwi, and lemon, along with complex tones of honeyed white tea, almond croissant, yellow flowers, and all sorts of mineral and saline nuances. Delicious and precise. All maloactic fermentation, aged 15 months in 73% new French oak. (93 points IJB)

2020 Bouchaine Chardonnay Estate USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
SRP: $36
Deep yellow color. The nose exudes ripe yellow plums and pears, mixed with cinnamon, biscuits and honey, some graham cracker, and the…

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Wine Reviews: California Wines to Beat the Heat Wine Reviews: California Wines to Beat the Heat *Wine Reviews: California Wines to Beat the Heat