Weekly Under $20 Value Wine Pick – 2007 Fox Glove Chardonnay, Santa Cruz, California

Influential wine critic Robert Parker gives it 90 points

Influential wine critic Robert Parker gives it 90 points

Besides the venerable Bonny Doon and Ridge Wineries, you really don’t hear much of anything else that comes out of the Santa Cruz mountains region.  I know there are a number of wineries that do exist there, but there rarely get much attention compared to California’s other more famous regions like Napa and Sonoma.  The 2007 Foxglove Chardonnay is produced by twin brothers Bob and Jim Varner of Varner Wine.

The company makes several premium, small production chardonnay and pinot noir under the Varner and Neely labels.  The Foxglove brand in which there are a cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and this chardonnay, are their value level workhorse wines.  I haven’t tried the cabernet sauvignon or the zinfandel yet, but if the quality of the chardonnay at the price point is any indication of what’s to come with the red wines, I can’t wait to try them.

Foxglove chardonnay is a clean, pure expression of fruit and mineral; a result of spending it’s time fermenting and aging in steel tanks rather than in oak.  In fact, its aging regimen consists of no oak.  The wine also undergoes no malolactic fermentation, which is a process that morphs some of the harsher acids in the wine into softer ones, thereby creating a “softer” wine.  The resulting wine is one of laser like precision and a mouth-feel that feels weighty yet edgy.  You still get rich, tropical fruit flavors, but you also get an acid backbone makes the wine feel alive in your mouth.

The grapes for this wine are sourced from the Edna Valley region located along the central coast of California.  There are over 25,000 cases made of this wine, so finding it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  As I mentioned earlier, they make some premium chardonnay that are certainly age worthy.  I’ve tried them before and was very impressed at the level of quality in the premium versions.  As far as collecting is concerned, these are great value acquisitions for your collection as the chardonnays retail for roughly $40 or less, if I’m not mistaken.

Dishes with cream sauce don’t stand a chance against this wine.  I think this will also go great with salads, soups and grilled veggies.  Backyard BBQ worthy indeed.

Un-oaked chardonnays are all the rage nowadays.  Many wineries now make some form of chardonnay that sees either no-oak or minimal oak.  Winemakers making this style of chardonnay often inhibit malolactic fermentation, which as mentioned earlier is a process that alters acids in the wine and softens mouth-feel.  Undergoing malolactic fermentation is what creates the buttery flavors often associated with the style of California chardonnay that for some reason have gotten a bad rap in the recent decade.  I’m still not sure whether its the consumers or the wineries that are driving or creating the demand for this new sub-style of California Chardonnay.  With more research, I think it will make an interesting subject for a post.  For now I recommend this wine as a case-buy.

Varner Wine

We had the wine at Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas on Oahu.  I believe the wine can be found at Fujioka’s, Tamura’s and The Wine Stop Hawaii.  I’m not sure about other retail locations, so just call your favorite local retailer first.

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2 thoughts on “Weekly Under $20 Value Wine Pick – 2007 Fox Glove Chardonnay, Santa Cruz, California

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