I was on a mission the day I chose Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay. A mission to find a Chardonnay with a little bit of old-world funk to it. You know, that kind of “taste the farm from the fertilizer on up” kind of funk. It’s the same kind of craving you get for stinky cheese, truffle, or even rare meat. You know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, well, grab a glass and pour a little Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay and experiment with me…
About the Wine: I have to quote a line from the Chalk Hill website because this is, truly, why I chose this wine: Chalk Hill has “an estate-wide, shared aesthetic, the process is light-handed, non-invasive, and sustainable, allowing each bottle to emulate the essence of the vineyard.” What’s more, they craft the wine with food in mind — the estate also includes an organic garden which literally feeds their on-site culinary program. Chalk Hill, you’ve ticked all my boxes, and that’s even before my first sip.
Ok, now on to Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay…
The Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from — you guessed it — Chalk Hill estate vineyards located in Sonoma. The gently pressed grapes went through barrel fermentation and aging in Hungarian, French, and American oak (32% new). Full (100%) malolactic fermentation occured, sur lies lees, with regular bâtonnage. The resulting wine was unfiltered before bottling.
Flavor Profile: A deep straw yellow that’s just a bit cloudy in the glass, Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay emits the best aromas of burnt butter, sweet apples, and woodsy-oak. It’s like you’re eating a butter poached apple in front of a campfire — and that’s just the nose of the wine. Swirl, sniff again, and get those subtle hints of acidity and rest assured that this will be a well-balanced wine.
On the palate the wine is soft, rich, speaking of that oak, that MLF, that skin contact. It’s a white wine that has some weight to it, but is by no means heavy or overbearing in either taste or texture. Primary flavors are akin to caramel apple, burnt popcorn (I mean that in a good way), with little accents of nuts like blanched almonds. Mid-palate brings in that farm-funk minerality with both the taste and the texture of a well-aged cheese. That lasts for but a moment. All good things do come to an end and the finish of this wine is just beautiful as comes to a calm close, slowly bringing both the flavors and the mouthfeel to a point with the most delicate slice of acidity.
Food Pairing: I struggle to say what the perfect pairing would be for this wine because I feel like you cold go in so many directions. If drinking Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay as an aperitif, it would do well alongside a charcuterie board and a selection of cheeses (ranging from mild to super funk).
For a main, I would recommend a soft, smooth-textured, and mild seafood like seared scallops, halibut or even sea bass — something that will mimic the texture of the wine, but also provide its own version of delicious schtank. Serve that against something acidic — like a micro-green salad dressed with a kicky vinaigrette and garnished with a few raw nuts — to elevate the overall acidity on the palate (since the acid in the wine is so low).
More Info: This was my first Chalk Hill Estate wine experience and it will certainly not be my last. Like I said, I chose this wine for the pure “organic-ness” of it and it completely followed through with — if not exceeded — my expectations. Looking at their library of wines online, I can tell that they’ve chosen to do just a few things well (like any good artist or chef). What peaks my interest the most is the botrytised Semillon — I feel a significant lack of Semillon in my California wine life and I’d love the opportunity to taste the varietal in the organic style that Chalk Hill has so eloquently established. Not sure if that’s available in stores or just online, but will keep my eyes peeled and you, my readers, posted.
I found Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay at Safeway (Sale Price: $30) — and worth every penny). For more information about Chalk Hill, their farming methods, and — of course — their wines, please do visit the Chalk Hill website. Double Cheers to this one!!
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