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Swirling Pino


Benovia's RRV Chardonnay Scores Top Honors with KWG Tasting Panel


94 Points (Excellent) | Benovia 2007 Russian River Chardonnay

"Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in America. But the world of Chardonnay is changing.  I personally didn't think a change was needed, but like most success stories, the general philosophy appears to be a change or die message.  What is the change taking place in the Chardonnay world?  The change is in style.  The traditional California oaked and malolactic fermentation Chardonnay style is being challenged by a new unoaked and fruit-forward movement.  We found this to be especially true at the lower price points.  We have seen this stylistic change take place in the many Chardonnays that we have tried over the last 2 years.  I still think that Pinot Noir has the greatest number of styles for wine lovers to try but I am now certain that Chardonnay will continue to present many different options in the near term as well.  Below is what we found in our recent Chardonnay tastings.  I will also follow up this post with another summary post of some of my favorite Chard discoveries from my recent trip to California.

Which Chardonnays were our favorites?  We found quite a few gems.  As in the past, we also found that most of the best Chardonnays tended to be premium level wines and they are priced at more than $20.  There are a few exceptions that are priced lower like Kendall Jackson's Vintners Reserve, Foxglove, Stonehedge, Four Vines, and Columbia Crest's "Grand Reserve."  For the most part, like Pinot, you will need to spend a little more to get a top level Chardonnay.

Which Chardonnay won the KWG Tasting Panel's highest honors?

Our favorite Chard came from a winery that I had never heard of before.  The 2007 Benovia "Russian River Valley" Chardonnay just blew us away. This wine was Excellent and we scored it 94 points.  At $35, this wine is a steal.  The only downside, I could see is there were only 330 cases made of this delicious wine.  This wine will appeal to those readers who like the light oak style we talked about above.  It displays fabulous ripe pear flavors with notes of vanilla, banana, and light oak as well.  It would pair well with lobster or crab cakes with a light cream dipping sauce.  It was just yummy!"

By Ken's Wine Guide Tasting Panel, 08/04/2009