Back in 1912 Ernest Wente persuaded his father, C.H. Wente, to import Chardonnay cuttings from a nursery at the University of Montpellier in France to their Livermore Valley winery. Today roughly 80% of all California Chardonnay stems from what is now called the “Wente Clone.” There is a reason Riva Ranch is their flagship Chardonnay. It’s grown in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey and has been since the 1960s. A scant 2% Gewürztraminer is added in. This balances out everything that you want from a California Chardonnay – lemon-lime, quince, slight butterscotch, sweet resin, apricot, white peach and good acidity for structure and a nice mouth feel. The 2018 could actually be the poster child for California Chardonnay, it’s that consistent. 10% of this wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, the rest being fermented in a combination of both new and used French and American oak barrels, which rounds out the wood nuances and viscosity. It’s an excellent Chardonnay and represents California Chardonnay particularly well.
ORIGIN: Monterey, California
PRICE: $22/750 ml
PAIR WITH: Chicken picatta; creamy risotto with caramelized onions and garlic; buttery popcorn and goat cheese
SCORE: 92 POINTS