First saw wine made at age 7, became a Master Gardner and now my favorite plant is Vitis vinifera. Published wine reviewer, teach wine appreciation at the local school district. And at my old age completed some WSET levels just because I love all things wine. I pour wine for various distributors, have worked with chefs pairing wine and food at corporate events and do private home parties too. Between events, I meet with winemakers in various states and countries.
“Scores do not reveal the most important facts about a
wine. The written commentary (tasting notes) that accompanies the ratings is a
better source of information than any score regarding the wine’s style and personality,
its quality level relative to its peers, and its relative value and aging
potential.” – Robert M. Parker, Jr.
Mizer Rating 4 Glasses!
you’re a lobster fisherman off the coast of New England, I understand why you
haven’t filled your wine racks with bottles of buttery Chardonnay. While such wines go well with chunks of
lobster dipped in butter, they’re a bit much for other things, and you’re
probably not eating lobster every day.
And, as things go to the challenge and sometimes frustration of
winemakers, pendulums swing and the publics’ preference for Chardonnay turned
toward steel: fresh, fruity, crisp, and acidic. But in that effort to meet a
changing public demand, I've been exposed to Chardonnays so acidic, they seemed
to threaten the enamel of my teeth.
we, in the U.S. just settle in? France did
so years ago with Mersaults and White Burgundies, Mercury and Pouilly-Fuisse
(all made from the Chardonnay grape). But in the U.S. while we continue to label
bottles with names of grapes (instead of regions) it’s sometimes anyone’s guess
what style is inside the bottle. Then again, maybe that’s what makes for
surprise and the joy of discovery. I
recently had such a joyous experience tasting again a bottle of Stonestreet’s
“Broken Road” Chardonnay and it has put the fun back into wine tasting.
perfectly happy, mind you, enjoying a Chassagne or Puligny-Montrachet on a
beautiful day sitting by the beach. It never disappoints. It’s always
delicious. But it never surprises anymore. After so many decades of tasting
wine, the pleasure remains but the thrill is gone. In fact, while enjoying many wines for review
this year, few –though all pleasurable – thrilled me. “Broken Road” thrilled me to the extent that
even remembering the tasting still excites.
wine is unique enough to make descriptions almost nonsensical. To begin, the
nose of this Alexander Valley AVA Chardonnay offers soft oak but also tangerine,
honeysuckle and tropical fruit. And here’s where it get nonsensical: it hints – doesn’t confuse with, but hints –
just a soft whisper – at Gewürztraminer!
No, you won’t confuse the two, and trust me, the experience is
delightful. The spice and tropical fruit aromas of this wine are a delicate
ballet of balance. In music, these would be grace notes. And these same suggestions carry into the
taste, but again as a most delicate hint. There’s no confusing the two grapes. There’s
subtle butterscotch and caramel from well-handled Chardonnay, but it’s the
orange zest that excites and surprises the palette. There’s also peach. But still, nothing
overwhelms. The orange zest is evident, but plays as an important instrument along
in a symphony of flavors. With all this going on, all this freshness, the
wine’s mouth feel is creamy and evidences that balance is not just in the aromatics
and flavors but also in the wine’s texture. Yes, this is a Chardonnay that is oaked but so deftly
handled that an abundance of fruit is evident, not obstructed. To Stonestreet’s
credit (and certainly the winemaker’s) the fruit, I think, is improved through
its delicate malo-marriage in wood. The wine is clean, crisp and with fruit evident
yet creamy and lush in the mouth.
A Natural With Any Seafood
tasted this wine again on the second day. With the small remainder, another
hint toward citrus, now Meyer lemon, but again – reserved, enticing, not
clubbing the senses. It finished with a nice (take that to mean balanced) oaky,
but zesty citrus/orange/Meyer lemon in a long, palette-cleansing finish.
is not possible for retail outlets to carry every wine produced, so if your
retailer does not stock or cannot order this wine, I’ve included information
below for contacting / visiting the tasting room and winery. If that serves as a reason for a vacation
trip to Sonoma, all the better. But if
you prefer to take an armchair vacation and enjoy pairing wine with a meal at
home, seafood is a natural. Mussels and shrimp? Great. Any cheese based or béchamel enriched
pasta dish would benefit from the wine’s cleansing acidity. Enjoy a glass of
wine, look through your recipe collection and let your imagination begin.
what Robert Parker, Jr. said concerning written commentary, I’m sure my
commentary is inadequate. It’s so because rarely does a wine so excite me that
describing it requires stepping so far outside the cliché box as to risk
embarrassment. So let me point out that
Mr. Parker awarded this wine 93 points. Stephen Tanzer wasn’t far away with 92
points. And perhaps once a year, and
even less frequently than that, I award a “4 Glasses” rating to any wine. But
Stonestreet’s “Broken Road” Chardonnay deserves it. I brought this wine to a holiday dinner party
and will pass along that it was acclaimed by everyone at the table. So forgetting the experts and the somewhat
experts (like me) it seems this chardonnay has a lot of appeal and shouldn’t be
for all the wine geeks out there, (and those that want to learn the jargon) following
are the “Tech Specs” that some like so much. Reading them should give you a
clue as to how this wine offers such fresh fruit while maintaining a creaminess.
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