A few weeks ago I decided to splash out a bit on a wine and picked up the Kunde 2014 Chardonnay. Trader Joes had this for $14 I think and it seems to retail elsewhere for around $18. I wanted to serve some nice Chardonnay with a triple cream St. Andre because it had been a few months since I’d had any nice cheese. This wine was rated 92 points in Wine and Spirits and had won a gold medal in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition which is a pretty deep field. I knew these things going into the purchase and my expectations were high.
The Kunde 2014 Chardonnay comes in at 13.8% ABV. The fruit is from Sonoma county. The wine was split aged, 80% in barrels which were a mix of neutral and new French oak. The wine that was barrel aged underwent complete malolactic fermentation and Sur lie aging. 20% of the wine was done in steel. I chilled the wine down to between 50 and 55 degrees. We used stemless glasses for tasting. I liked the wine through it’s whole development and warming up but if you are going to be drinking it outside or in the heat, consider a Corkcicle. There was a soft apple note present when I opened the bottle. The wine was a medium gold shade with a delicate citrine sheen.
The Kunde 2014 Chardonnay had a nice nose that was reasonably perfumed with apple, pear, lemon, minerals and a pie crust note. The minerals were more noticeable in the taste of the wine than the nose. The nose aromas matched the flavors with an additional note of mirabelle plum, ripe melon, and honeycomb. The finish was not as long as I expected but it was nice with hints of toasted almonds, minerals, and a slight sweetness. The wine is actually fairly dry throughout and the acid is smack dab in the middle of the road. As the wine warmed slightly, I noticed lime and grapefruit in the mix. With the cheese, we got additional notes of white pepper and wildflowers. There was also a note I can only describe as “sea breeze” that was slightly salty, tangy, oceanic, and wild. I caught just a hint of it before we started in on the cheese and it was really evident with it.
I want to say that reading the winemakers notes seemed like we were drinking different wine. I can’t say my palate is that off from a pro but maybe it is. So how is it described by the winemaker? “Intriguing aromatics of orange blossom, Asian pear and marzipan that lead to a palate of tangerine marmalade and blood orange essence. This medium-bodied estate grown wine is well-structured with crisp acidity and rounded out by a creme brulee richness from barrel fermentation and a complete malolactic fermentation. Chardonnay is the queen of the whites and this lady suits that description to a tee. Across the incredibly diverse Kunde Estate, combined with a collection of clonal selections, complexity and focus come together in an easy sipping white wine. For those who like their Chardonnay to be crisp, a beautiful dose of acid and the richness of barrel fermentation creates a very lightly oaked, tasty experience.” Obviously, I didn’t find it that rich or citrusy. I’m exceptionally good at picking out citrus notes in wines and how they differ. For a wine that underwent malolactic fermentation, I was expecting something creamier in mouthfeel. The body of the wine was medium weighted and it was smooth, but not as lush as expected. It was more like a Chard that’s seen only neutral oak and a partial malolactic fermentation.
So after all that discourse, what did I think? I thought it was solid and interesting. My husband loved it. He even commented that if it was $10 he’d buy it all the time. I do not think it lived up to the 92 point rating. I think it needed just a hint more acid and a longer finish to have accomplished that rating. I’d have also liked to see those big bright citrus flavors in the palette. I really liked the wine as I described it. It’s different than any other Chardonnay I can remember having in the last few years. I think $14 is a fair price for the unique drinking experience. We give this an 89 point rating and will certainly purchase it again. I want to play with chilling the wine slightly lower than I did just to satisfy my curiosity about those citrus notes the winemaker described.
Have you tried the Kunde 2014 Chardonnay? I’d be eager to hear your thoughts!