The variety of
Unless you belong to the belligerent Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) group of white wine lovers, the sheer variety of styles and ‘weights’ of Chardonnays can be very enticing.
As a rule, regardless of their country of origin, unoaked Chardonnays are the most affordable. Without tying up expensive oak barrels for fermentation and/or aging, these whites are made in stainless steel to highlight the bright, fresh fruity flavours of the grape.
Despite occasional sightings in southern BC, the White-tailed Jackrabbit is considered extirpated in the Okanagan Valley. A tribute to the White-tailed Jack Rabbit also known as the Townsend Jack - Ganton & Larsen Prospect Vineyards Townsend Jack Unoaked Chardonnay (847137) $10.99 highlights the bright lemon and lime citrus notes with undertones of pear and wisp of chalky minerality.
One of the first Estate Wineries in the Okanagan Valley, situated on the Golden Mile Bench north of Oliver, Gehringer Brothers started making wine in 1985. Originally focused on Germanic varieties, more than thirty years later brothers Walter and Gordon have developed a much wider portfolio.
Dry Rock Vineyards has a southern exposure and very rocky soils. Gehringer Bros. Unoaked Dry Rock Chardonnay (536199) 14.99 is made from grapes from carefully cropped vines. Lengthy fermentation on the lees adds a complex creamy character to the medley of apple, pear and pineapple flavours.
With tongue firmly in cheek, few wineries have as little respect for the sophisticated matter of winemaking as The Hatch, born in the Okanagan Valley’s West Kelowna in 2015. Their self-describing website is absolutely hilarious… but even more amusing with a glass of their Screaming Frenzy Chardonnay in hand.
Screaming Frenzy Chardonnay (627034) $20.55 started winning Double Gold medals with the debut 2013 vintage. The current vintage shows the same balance of classic lemon, apple and pear fruit flavours with mellow acidity and a splash of perfectly integrated oak contributing vanilla and light caramel up front and in the finish.
SOAHC – pronounced “So-ahck” – Estate Wines claims it is one of the first vineyards in North America to leverage the biodynamic process from inception. The name is derived from reversing the letters of the word “chaos”.
SOAHC explains, on their website: “One of the key principles of biodynamic farming is to harness energy from nature. This is probably best exemplified in the stirring process creating vortices which increase oxygen and give water a potentized force. When stirring any mixture, you create a vortex, only to then create chaos by changing directions, and then, out of chaos, you create another vortex.”
Regardless of this philosophical approach, SOAHC Chardonnay (598110) $24.60 is a rich blend of oak and stainless steel fermented juice. Green apples, lemon and creamy almond aromas and flavours slide seamlessly into an earthy, peppery vortex in the finish.
Perseus Winery is owned and operated by Terrabella Wineries. Perseus is committed to celebrating the diversity of the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys by farming some of the best grapes with the best growers in British Columbia.
Made by the traditional method, with the final effervescent fermentation in the bottle, Perseus Sparkling Chardonnay (91736) $27.99 is bright and sassy – lemons, green apples, hazelnut and rain-washed slate lead into a finish of honeyed apple and toasty hazelnut. Pour this sparkling wine half a glass at a time to keep it from warming up in the glass!
Four Shadows Vineyard is at the south end of the Naramata Bench. Located at the foot of Campbell Mountain, the vineyard soils consist of rocky glacial till mixed with lacustrine deposits. Lean lacustrine deposits of silts, clays, and carbonates keep the vines struggling just enough to send down deep roots that heighten the layers of minerality underlying the fruity characters of the grapes.
Barrel-fermented, Foxtrot ‘Four Shadows’ Chardonnay (813063) $45.99 reaches for that layered complexity of apple, pear and apricot flavours over toasted oak and lingering sun-baked herb
and savoury spice box subtleties that marks great white wine from France’s renowned Burgundy. It has a wonderful, almost “oily” textured weight and silky density on the tongue rarely seen in BC Chardonnay.
It has been said that the six different 2014 Chardonnays recently released by Anthony von Mandl’s Checkmate Artisanal Winery – ranging in price from $80 to $110 – take BC Chardonnay to whole new levels of distinction and complexity. Sign up online at Checkmatewinery.com for the opportunity to purchase these wines.
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