I’m loving the cool climate wines from Ranch 32. From their Cabernet Sauvignon to their Pinot Noir, they truly keep the essence of the fruit in the bottle. And this Chardonnay is no exception. Aged completely in stainless steel, just a kiss of ML in the blend, Ranch 32 truly knows what “minimalistic winemaking” means. Bonus point: this restrained Chardonnay comes at an affordable price, which means you can enjoy this wine just as easily with a mid-week meal as you could on date night.

About the Wine: The Ranch 32 2016 Chardonnay is harvested from two Ranch 32 estate vineyards located in the Arroyo Seco AVA of Monterey County, California. After harvest, the grapes were whole-cluster pressed and fermented in 100% stainless steel. A small percentage (exact number unknown) went through malolactic fermentation. The wine aged 100% French oak barrels (35% new) for 10 months.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Ranch 32 2016 Chardonnay and breathe in delicious aromas of apples, pears, honey, and vanilla. This Chardonnay presents a soft straw color on the pour, settling into the glass a bit more golden in hue. Initial aromas are of all those scented from the bottle with the addition of green grass and lawn daisies — almost reminiscent to the calming scent of chamomile infused with honey and vanilla. Swirl and release those pomme fruits — they’re more open, softer, as if poached to perfection. Deep breath in reveals a hearty nuttiness; pull away and find an aura of bitter herbs or aromats, perhaps like lemongrass.

The palate of the Ranch 32 2016 Chardonnay is soft, smooth, but bright with fresh fruit juices. The acid is mild, the body is light, and there’s just a slight effervescent tingle on the tongue at the very finish. Dominant flavors are of apple, pear, quince, agave nectar, chamomile flowers, and a daisy like perfume. Those grassy herbs linger in the background while a hint of honey-nut lingers on the after breath.

Food Pairing: The first night I enjoyed the Ranch 32 2016 Chardonnay, I paired it with a vegetarian wrapped seasoned with spicy hummus. What I liked was that the spice notes in the wrap called out the more herbaceous qualities in the wine that were otherwise hidden in the background when sipping it on its own. In effect, those herb notes actually calmed down the spiciness of the wrap, making it more enjoyable to eat.

The second time I paired the Ranch 32 2016 Chardonnay with a beet and goats cheese salad. Here, what I loved was the goats cheese pairing. The cheese, which was seasoned with herbs de provence, played up the soft, smooth mouthfeel while simultaneously highlighting the brightness of the fruits. The herbs in the cheese highlighted the floral elements of the wine. I thought this was a truly elegant pairing.

More Info: I received the Ranch 32 2016 Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Jean and Marjorie!) Retail: $20. For more information about Ranch 32, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Ranch 32 website.

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