Chardonnay: Getting it right. Say thanks to K-J!

So many sins are committed in the name of Chardonnay — mainly wines that lack good AVANT-Chard-Non-vintage-balance (and great fruit). They may lack the acidity for structure or pander to sugar addicts with sweetness. Kendall-Jackson, however, never lets you down. K-J’s Avant and the Vintner’s Reserve, both $17 SRP ($12-$13 on sale), are dry but not austere. Both have juicy fruit and are supported by firm acidity. Avant is more modern in its approach — with less oaky flavors. Vintner’s Reserve is not afraid of oak but has the fruit to stand up to it. The blog at has an entry on the thinking behind these two Chardonnays. Give it a read.

Kendall-Jackson Avant Chardonnay California 2015, $17: Avant is a modern take on Chardonnay: minimal oak, maximum fruit. This 2015 vintage from vineyards in Monterey County, Santa Barbara County and Mendocino sings. It has aromas of pineapple, green apple, lemon and pear, and flavors of green apple and lemon drop. It’s braced with bright, firm acidity and sleek minerality. I love this 2015 vintage.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay California 2015, $17: Rich, a seamless infusion of oak, juicy flavors and acidity, and when you swallow, the flavors persist. It’s a fuller-bodied wine than Avant. Flavors are intensely tropical: pineapple, mango, papaya, tart green apple with a kiss of oak. So delicious. This wine has been the top-selling Chardonnay in the U.S. for almost 25 years. It was the wine everybody coveted when I first started writing about wine. And it hasn’t changed a bit.

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