The Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay 2016 is 100% Chardonnay sourced from sustainable farmed Delicato Family Vineyards estate property in the San Bernabe AVA inside the Monterey County AVA below the Monterey Bay in the Central Coast AVA of California. Noble Vines is one of Delicato Family Vineyards (family owned since the 1920s with vineyards in Lodi, Napa, and Monterey) stable of brands, it is designed to highlight the importance of grape clones in the making of wine. The Chardonnay clone used here is Clone #4 originally found in Carneros (on the Napa side) and is a mainstay of California Chardonnay winemaking. The remaining 46 from the title refers to Block 46 of their huge San Bernabe vineyard, Block 46 is where a good amount of the Chardonnay grapes used in this wine came from, but other blocks in the vineyard were also used. Part of this Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel vats and the rest in oak barrels and a portion of the wine under went malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in Red wine, but it is induced in some White wines such as Chardonnay. It converts the tart natural acidity in the juice to softer more rounded acidity (more fruit, than citrus), so here you have both the lactic and the malo acids coexisting. The alcohol content is a ripe 14.5%.
The color is a sunny, golden yellow. The nose is delicate, with a mix of citrus, stone fruit and tropical fruit aromas, along with a gentle floral note. This is a balanced, flavorful Chardonnay, with more complexity than usually found in this price range. It tastes of juicy apple and lime, peach and lemon, a touch of vanilla cream, and melon. The mid-palate brings soft grapefruit, guava and faint coconut milk. The acidity helps the flavors to unfold, but is balanced enough to allow this to be a sipping wine. The finish is persistent and lengthy.
The Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay 2016 is a very well-made Chard, it is fun to have a wine where the flavors jump out at you, but technically the wine should project balance, the 446 is very well-balanced. It has a good sleek mouth-feel and layers of things happening in your glass. The various characteristics of grape clones is something the winemaker needs to know and is something a wine drinker does not have to know to enjoy a glass of wine. But I find the winery pulling back the curtain and allowing the wine enthusiasts a little insight to the thinking about the making of the wine to be highly interesting.