Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2011 Review

Kendall Jackson

You know the drill by now: Friday = wine at my house. My husband is a big white wine fan, so we tend to get those a little more often than not. He likes a fresh and fruit forward style for all white wines but with Chardonnay, I tend to look for more of a balance of fruit, juiciness, and richness. I was making salmon and roasted broccoli for dinner and asked my husband to bring home something with a little more smoothness. He phoned me and gave me my choices; I chose Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2011 priced at $15.

Kendall Jackson as a winery has a great story, which you can find here. Family owned and operated since the 1970’s, they are a California powerhouse producer. Kendall Jackson was a pioneer of California wine making and helped define the “California” style Chardonnay. If you’re ever confused about what Chardonnay to pick, a Kendall Jackson is a safe bet. They are consistently good from year to year, but still true to the vintage and the fruit. You can also drink easy as they are big proponents of sustainability! They are the parent company to one of my other favorite California Chardonnay producers, La Crema. Bottom line, these guys know their stuff and are widely available, so get out there and try ’em!

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2011 comes in at 13.5% alcohol. This is a 100% Chardonnay that has been barrel aged in American and French oak. Kendall Jackson also ages this wine on the lees and uses a stirring technique to increase the silkiness and creamy mouth feel of the wine. The grapes in this vintage are all from coastal plantings, some from the central coast but also from Sonoma and Mendocino vineyards. My bottle was in decent shape and I had no cork issues. Upon opening the wine, there was a soft aroma of tropical fruits. The wine was a medium straw hue and a little bit darker than most of the Chardonnays I’ve reviewed recently. I chilled the wine to 55 degrees and we used stemless white wine glasses to for our tasting.

KJ in glass

The nose on the Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2011 was very soft. The aromas are clearly pineapple, papaya, and vanilla. My first sip was full of citrus, tropical fruits, a hint of floral character, and vanilla on the finish. The citrus and the tropical fruits were very well blended. You can taste almost every supermarket citrus variety: lime, lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit. It’s similar with the tropical fruits, very complex but so well blended not a single flavor stands out. The finish was surprisingly long with how juicy and fruity the wine was up front. The finish was lightly oaked and creamy. I think the progression of the wine in the mouth is really fantastic as it’s so vibrant at first and the finish doesn’t disrupt it but it’s like turning a dial from vibrant to soft very slowly.

The wine had a real split personality when it came to the food. The salmon brought out all the citrus and made it extra juicy. The broccoli made the wine floral, herbal, and fruity but in a very balanced way. I’ve honestly never had a wine go with broccoli this well! Both my husband and I marveled at the match. Another fun thing about this wine is the “acidity impression”. When you drink it alone it seems lower in acid but when you get something like a fatty fish in the mix, it responds with what seems like more acid to refresh the palette. We noticed this with the broccoli and the dessert as well!

Once the wine had more time in the glass, there was more vanilla in the mid palette and the finish had a hint of apple pie. The apple actually came through in the nose too. Our dessert was a lemon cheesecake and this wine was an exceptional match; fully balanced flavors with just enough acidity to compliment the food.

Overall, my husband and I both really enjoyed the wine. It was a better wine for me than for his taste, being so balanced. On the standard Wine Spectator scale, I give this a 91 and my husband rated it an 89. I rated it so high for two reasons; the well blended fruits with a smooth integrated finish and the fluctuating acidity impression. I like that it’s drinkable with all stages of a meal or on it’s own. That’s what I want when I’m entertaining too, a wine that is easy but memorable.

Have you had the Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2011? Want to talk about it? Let us know how you feel in the comment field below!



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