The Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2016 is 98% Chardonnay and 2% Gewürztraminer grown in Wente Estates vineyards in the Livermore Valley AVA just inland from the San Francisco Bay inside the larger Central Coast AVA of California. Wente Vineyards has a very interesting story, they are the oldest continuously (since 1883) operated family owned vineyards and winery in the US and that’s only part of the story. In the early 1900s Wente became active in developing grape varietal clones, making hardy, disease resistant clones of some of the best grape vines in the world. Around 80% of the Chardonnay produced in California today use the Wente Clone and I also had a Bordeaux winemaker tell me he uses the Wente Cabernet Sauvignon clone in his vineyards in France. Wente is one of the oldest wine estates, but their work and legacy is still very vital today. Every winery makes Chardonnay a little different from the other producers, here 50% of the Chardonnay was fermented in American oak barrels and the other 50% was fermented in stainless steel tanks. The oak barrel fermented portion was then aged “on lees” for 5 months (“on lees” indicates the dead yeast from the fermentation process is kept with the wine, it adds flavor and texture), here they also stirred the lees. Stirring the wine imparts a creamy feel to the wine, the more it is stirred the more pronounced the effect. The other 50% is also aged 5 months in stainless, but half the wine is aged “on lees” and the other half has the lees removed before aging. It seems Chardonnay always has a complicated production process and no 2 wineries make it the exact same way. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a pale butter yellow. The nose is light and floral, some notes of melon, lemon, and apple, along with peach, light spice, and pear. This is a bright crisp Chardonnay upfront with huskier flavors on the mid-palate. It tastes of a mix of grapefruit and pear, soft lemon, green apple, with a touch of spice. The mid-palate adds melon, dried apricot, a little cream, and a light salty sensation. The acidity is nicely balanced, this Chard works as a sipper or paired with the meal. The finish is full, it fades before too long, but never really goes away.
The Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2016 is a very solid, tasty Chardonnay, it should be, Wente knows a thing or two about Chardonnay. This is one of those wines that checks off all the boxes, it has interesting, somewhat complicated flavor, it has the acidity to give the wine length and let the flavors unfold, it’s from a producer that has made wine for over 100 years, and it’s well priced (it should be found in the $12/$13 range). The creamy texture from the “on lees” and the 25% that wasn’t “on lees” adds a nice citrus, spice, and vanilla counterpoint. The Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2016 is a very appealing Chardonnay.