An interesting thing happened when I opened the 2008 Carneros Chardonnay from Ceja Vineyards, poured it into my glass and took a nice long whiff - I wasn't hit with an oaky, butter bomb! Now I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of what some California Chardonnays have become - I feel it has become more about what process the winemakers are using to make the wine, as opposed to letting the fruit really guide the process. As with other Ceja wines I have tasted, this wine is all about the fruit, and not just the juice that has been barreled, but the care that goes into growing a grape that makes great wine.
This Chardonnay highlights the true characteristics of the fruit and the vineyard. From the crisp nose, that presents pretty distinct citrus, as well as a fresh, ripe pear. And that is just the beginning of what this wine has to offer. The palate on this wine is very complex, despite of the fact that the wine-making process did not include malolactic fermentation, which generally gives Chards their body and structure, providing the deep buttery taste and texture. For a wine this crisp, the structure is incredibly balanced and also lingers in the mouth. This fullness is achieved by a 9 month French barrel sur lie aging process, leaving you with a rich wine, that is all about the fruit.
As I am pretty sure the Ceja's would recommend, I had this wine with a plate of slightly spicy chicken fajitas, some flavorful Mexican rice and guacamole. The slight sweetness of the wine, worked beautifully with the spicy dish. This truly is a wine I could drink all summer.
(This wine was generously provided by Ceja Vineyards as a tasting sample.)