If there’s anything we know about Chardonnay, it’s that it is highly adaptable to its environment. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Oregon—heck even Canada—all have areas that produce premium Chardonnays. Yet all are so distinctly different, all so uniquely dependent on both environmental (soil, climate, altitude and latitude) and human factors (grape grower, winemaker).
In California, Chardonnay is our most-planted white wine grape variety. It’s produced all over the state and, given the size of the state and the amount of wine producers, it can be expressed in a number of different styles. Today I’m zeroing in on three specific AVAs: Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Dry Creek Valley—all part of the Northern Sonoma AVA in Sonoma County, Calif.
The wines expressing these pieces of California terroir are all Chardonnays produced by Dutcher Crossing Winemaker, Nick Briggs, who walked me through a virtual tasting which included insight into the regional specificities from his growing partners: Charlie Chenoweth (Chenoweth Vineyards), Pam Bacigalupi (Bacigalupi Vineyards), Dan Rotlisberger (Redwood Empire Vineyard Management).