I’m always curious when wineries who’s main focus are heartier red wines produce a white varietal. Ladera, who’s primarily known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, recently purchased acreage in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley — known for top quality Pinot Noir and — yes — Chardonnay. Sourcing fruit from the right region is one thing, knowing how to do that produce justice is another. And Ladera does, indeed, do the Chardonnay grape proud…

About the Wine: The Ladera Vineyards 2015 Pillow Road Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from Ladera’s Pillow Road vineyard located in the Russian River AVA of California’s Sonoma County. After harvested, grapes were hand-sorted then whole-cluster pressed. The juice cold-settled for one day, then went through primary fermentation in French oak barrels (50% new). The Chardonnay only went through partial secondary malolactic fermentation, after which it aged sur lies, with regular battonage, for 11 months.

14% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the Ladera Vineyards 2015 Pillow Road Chardonnay and breath in the saltiness of the sea as well as a bit of nutty roundness or creaminess. On the pour, the Chardonnay is a soft, white cream color, settling into the glass with a solid golden yellow hue. Note that this wine is extremely aromatic as it flows from bottle to glass.

Initial aromas are of apple crumble, nasturtium nectar, and lemon curd. Swirl and find additional scents of butter, warm cream, buttermilk, and a background perfume of narcissus. The palate of the Ladera Vineyards 2015 Pillow Road Chardonnay is quite smooth, soft, but with an immediate hit of acidity. There’s a light texture, like a meringue puff, lining the background. Dominant flavors are of orange zest, pollen, almond skins, fennel, dry oak wood, and a hint of coriander. The finish is just a touch dry around the teeth and gums.

Lovers of fuller wines will appreciate that this white wine is quite substantial — and one that can certainly stand up to a hearty meal.

Food Pairing: I paired the Ladera Vineyards 2015 Pillow Road Chardonnay is a homemade veal burger and a side salad. That’s right, white wine and veal. Because veal is a bit of a leaner meat, it can easily be paired with a heartier white wine like this Chardonnay. The soft texture of the meat as well as it’s “perfumey-ness” helped round out the texture of the wine even further and highlighted the floral and earth flavors. Meanwhile the excellent use of acidity in the wine did well to cut through those same components, perfectly rounding out the meal as a whole.

Loved this pairing. Highly recommend it.

More Info: I received the Ladera Vineyards 2015 Pillow Road Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Miriam!) Retail: $50. For more information about Ladera Vineyards, their wine, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Ladera Vineyards website.

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