WENTE VINEYARDS holds the distinction of pioneering modern-day Chardonnay production in this country. Their Wente clone, or versions of it, is planted in more than half of the chardonnay vineyards in California and countless vineyards around the world. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Wente family’s first bottling from this clone in 1936, a wine which also was the first to be labeled as Chardonnay. The Wentes play a large role in California wine history: Their winery in the Livermore Valley due east of San Francisco is the oldest, continuously-operated, family-owned winery in the country. All of their wines are grown in family-owned vineyards where only sustainable farming practices are used. Today, fifth-generation winegrower Karl D. Wente makes four distinct styles of Chardonnay. Morning Fog is one of their top sellers. Check out the handy Wine Finder for a retail store near you that sells Wente wines.
Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay Estate Grown Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay 2015, $18
This is a tangy, crispy, refreshing dry Chardonnay infused with minerality and subtle oak. It has firm acidity for balance and charming fruit reminiscent of green apple, pear, melon, apricot and pineapple. Half the juice is fermented in neutral oak, the rest in stainless steel to retain freshness.
Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay Arroyo Seco (Monterey) 2014, $22: Riva Ranch is the Wente family’s estate vineyard in the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey. You’ll find this wine is richer and fuller than Morning Fog, bursting with white stone fruit, pineapple, and lime. It has a broader mouthfeel and nice touches of toast and vanilla from barrel fermentation.
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