I don't drink a lot of California Chardonnay. There, I've gotten that out in the open. I felt it best to insert that disclaimer so that anyone reading this would realize a couple of things. First, I may not be the best at describing Chardonnays from California (or any wine for that matter). Second, since I don't drink many of them yet I do drink a lot of wine, maybe I have an inherent bias against our subject for this blog.
Since that is now out of the way, I can mention that I've lately become fascinated with two varietals, specifically examples from California. Those two would in fact be Syrah and Chardonnay, and Chard just happens to win out in the first to make it onto my small corner of the internet wine table.
2007 Acacia Chardonnay Carneros
On the nose I was able to discern American oak, pear, apple and a hint of pineapple. There did seem to be a sweet floral note perhaps honeysuckle but that was very faint, just a wisp through the nostrils. Quick aside but is there an un-sexier word than "nostril" in the English language? Please post if you know of one but that word to me is just absolutely not sexy or elegant in the slightest. Come on, there's no grace to it, no evocative imagery going through your head. Just one of the two openings to your nose.
Back on topic and I do apologize for that somewhat crude little rant. When I first tasted this wine, sans food, I noted a very nice acidic spine that held together flavors of pineapple, popcorn butter, apple and pear. At this point I was supremely happy because I had expected a giant butterball of a Chardonnay, as so many California examples are made. There was a great sense of balance, like each flavor would run its course across your palate then be replaced by another equally interesting taste. What kept the wine taut and composed was that acidity I mentioned, it prevented any one flavor from dominating. More on that later though.
With the ravioli, I drizzled some Extra Virgin Olive Oil (because I want those virgins to be extra!) and a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. At this point I was pretty hungry and decided that my need for food overcame my need for finding hints of nutty cheese in the wine. With the ravioli the acidity was receding, replaced by that velvety mouthfeel that can only scream "malolactic treatement!" at you from inside the glass. However!! Just wait, before I go ripping on malo'd up Chardonnays, it actually worked. The dry cheese and slightly peppery olive oil were complemented by the buttery wine. Don't get me wrong, the acid was present and again doing something nice on the finish. It's just that when you paired all the flavors of the food with the wine, things changed.
What I noticed on the palate while eating the ravioli were a significantly more velvety mouthfeel. Pear and butterscotch, a slight dance of pineapple juice across the mid-palate and on the finish, before that acidity took over, some vanilla. If I had to guess (and this is a huge shot in the dark) I'd say this wine saw maybe 12-14 months in a combination of new and old American oak or new American oak and French oak barrels.
Needless to say, the pairing worked a little bit beyond my expectations. I was unhappy with the 14.4% alcohol levels though, I didn't think it needed that high to accomplish the mission of being a very drinkable, food friendly Chardonnay. You'll see the Acacia sell for between 12$ and 17$, at the 12$ level it gets a very solid B from me. Higher up in price and I'd down grade this to a C+.