I’m not going to lie, I love Chardonnay. Chardonnay is one of those wine world chameleons. It can be crisp and light or it can be an oak bomb or anything in between. The Snoqualmie 2012 Chardonnay leans more towards the oak side. Chardonnay is also polarizing. Many people don’t like the oak. In the past many winemakers (especially those in California) turned Chardonnay into a flat and insipid creature with no freshness and way too much oak and sugar. Here at CGR, some of us prefer fresh and fruity. That notion was challenged by this little gem. Let’s learn a little about the winery before we get to the juice!
Snoqualmie is a leader in the Washington wine industry. They have dedicated themselves to producing eco friendly wines at affordable prices. Sustainability is at the heart of all levels of the operation. Their efforts are often rewarded by the most prestigious wine publications, year after year garnering “best buy” and “best value” ratings for the majority of their offerings. Now let us get to the wine!
The Snoqualmie 2012 Chardonnay comes in at 13.5% alcohol. I’m not sure if this is 100% Chardonnay. This winery is known for spiking it’s Chards with a few percent of Viognier to bring in a bit of a floral character. This wine certainly saw oak and some of it was toasted. I’m guessing it was aged on the lees and had some malolactic fermentation too. We chilled the wine to between 50 and 55 degrees. We tasted the wine using a stemless generic wine glass. There were no issues with the cork or the bottle. The bottle exuded lemon and vanilla upon opening. The wine color is a beautiful straw yellow.
The nose on the Snoqualmie 2012 Chardonnay is very pleasant with lemon, vanilla, medium toasty oak, and nectarine blossom. The flavor of the wine is quite similar but there is also a strong pear note, a white floral accord, and an umami flavor of brown butter alongside bright Meyer lemon, vanilla, and oak. The mouth feel is super silky and round. This is certainly more in the California style of Chardonnay but the acidity and oak balance never push it over into the flat and insipid territory. I served this wine with a creamy tomato and chicken pasta. With the food, the pear and butter became the stars of the wine with the lemon still holding it’s own but with less brightness. As the wine opened up a bit more a note of Honeycrisp apple came forward to duke it out with the pear and lemon for fruit flavor supremacy. All the flavors flowed together well and the finish was quite long with a creamy lemon butter flavor. The wine is palette cleansing and dry but still perfectly enjoyable on it’s own.
Surprisingly enough, my husband loved this wine. He was quite excited about it and asked if I’d bought a second bottle. Normally he prefers Chardonnays that are very fruit forward, bright, lively, and with only the merest hint of vanilla or oak. I prefer mine more balanced in the ratio of oak to fruit. I like the bright ones too, they just aren’t usually complex enough for my ultimate preference. I’d say the balance of oak to fruit on this tastes around 70/30. Yet it still managed to be fresh, fruity, lively, as well as round, buttery, and vanilla heavy. If you’ve had problems with over oaked Chardonnay but want to embrace oak, then please give this one a try. On the standard Wine Spectator Scale, we give it a well deserved 92. This wine retails for about $10 and drinks like a bottle three times the price. I’m looking forward to buying this wine again and trying it with different dishes, cheeses, and a proper tasting glass!
Have you tried the Snoqualmie 2012 Chardonnay? Was it too oak-y for you or was it just right? Let us know in the comments below!