If you’re from California or enjoy California wines, the concept of an “unoaked” Chardonnay may confuse and baffle you. Like, what’s the point? But, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, winemakers are like chefs: they know their ingredients in their separate parts, and they know their ingredients as a combined whole. With that experienced knowledge, winemakers will make their harvesting, pressing, fermenting, and aging choices. And good winemakers, like good chefs, will never distribute something they’re not 100% proud of. Now, that’s not to say that it will be to every person’s palate. If you’re a hardcore Cal-oaky Chard kind of person, then that’s your right and privilege. Personally, I like to experiment. And, though, I’ve had a few (unmentionable) un-tasty unoaked Chards in my time, I figured, why not give Joel Gott a go. I’ve had good experiences with his wines in the past (see Joel Gott Pinot Gris), his wines, on the whole, have a good reputation, and for ten bucks — might as well, right? So, I present to you, Joel Gott California Unoaked Chardonnay…

About the Wine: Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay is labeled “California” because Joel Gott has utilized several different appellations to create this wine: Monterey, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, Napa (percentages unknown). The grapes were separated by individual vineyard while they were whole cluster pressed and fermented.

100% Stainless steel fermentation

13.9% ABV

Flavor Profile: Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay is a luminescent yellow in the glass — like the sun shining through a clean window sill. The initial aromas are subtle, but speak to bright fruits like pink grapefruits and green apples. Those fruit aromas may be subtle, but what’s surprisingly strong on the nose is the acidity — there’s the tiniest bit of sting as your breathe the wine in.

On the palate, the wine is simultaneously calm and exciting. Excitingly calm? Oxymoron, yes, but true. Because, my friends, this wine tells a swift story on the taste buds. There’s an initial soft, round mouthfeel that lasts but a second, quickly moving on to a burst of fresh fruit (predominantly apple, with a bit of citrus zest, and if you told me pineapple was in the pictures, I’d believe you). The fruits burst and fadeaway leaving this kick of spice-filled amazingness on the tongue (it’s weird to say this about white wine, but it’s the same kind of tingle you get with cinnamon, that kind of not spicy, but spiced feel).

Though the taste is quick, the finish is long, leaving tastebuds standing on end ready for another go.

Food Pairing: Easily enjoyable on its own, but I would highly recommend pairing Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay with a meal that’s almost its polar opposite: rotisserie chicken, filled with savory juices to contrast those acidic fruit flavors of the wine; creamy mashed potatoes with butter and garlic to play up that initial soft, round mouthfeel and — because of the garlic — pay homage to that heavy acidity; a clean, crisp salad of fresh vegetables because you cannot negate the fact that this is a crisp, fresh wine, and there should be at least one element that parallels the wine.

Mouth drooling yet?

More Info: If you haven’t read my review of Joel Gott Pinot Gris, please do so. Joel Gott, I’m calling you out. I can’t help but notice that most of the wines listed on the site are all from multiple appellations. But the Joel Gott Napa Valley Cab is from…Napa Valley alone. AND that mixture of new and old Bordeaux barrels for aging — well, suffice it to say, my tastebuds are intrigued. I’ve not seen it in stores, though.

All in good spirit, Joel Gott! For more information about Joel Gott, his available wines and (for the wines you can’t find in stores) to purchase wine directly, please do visit the Joes Gott website. I found Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay at CVS (Sale Price: $10.99)


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