Friday, October 16, 2009

Johnson Family Chardonnay 2008 Sonoma Coast

These days it seems it’s really hard for me to find an everyday Chardonnay that I can get really excited about that isn’t ridiculously expensive. I will also admit that I can be a little fussy about what I want out of a Chardonnay. I like my Chardonnay to have a really nice balance of fruit, oak, and acid. If any one of these elements is missing or so strong that it overpowers the rest of the wine, I find myself a little disappointed.

Johnson Family is one of those wonderful second label value wines that are made by great wineries and winemakers when they have a glut of high quality grapes for their higher end label. Instead of making more of the main label and perhaps getting supply, demand, and price out of balance, they will bottle some wine under a second or phantom label. In this case the very secret winemaker is from Sonoma and is wel known for making many excellent Chardonnays that retail for $40 and up.

The Johnson Family Chardonnay 2008 from the Sonoma Coast is a Chardonnay that gives me everything I want in really nice balance. In your glass you get intense golden color, which did have me a little concerned at first that this was going to be an over rich, buttery to the point of being flabby Chard, but that was absolutely not the case. The nose brings very nice aromas of apple pie and some toasty oak that does not overwhelm the fruit. In your mouth you get more of the same with some pear mixed in with the apple and the oak. Again, the oak is more than subtle but less than overwhelming. The unknown winmaker really did an outstanding job with the barrel aging in French oak. The mouthfeel is rich, but it is beautifully balanced by some refreshing acidity. This is a very nicely structured Chardonnay.

This is a great, food friendly offering from Johnson Family that could go with a number of things. Nicely balanced Chardonnays like this go very well with poultry and seafood. I had this with a grilled, marinated chicken breast, and they worked quite well together. I’d like it even more with some pan seared scallops or a broiled lobster tail.

Priced at $17, it’s a very nice Chardonnay for the money. Probably the best I’ve found under $20. Cheers!

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