The Prayers of the Saints Chardonnay 2017 is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in Washington State. I have noticed that wine that once had Columbia Valley as the place of origin on the label now say Washington State, they must be looking to promote Washington since the Columbia Valley produces 99% of the wine in Washington. Prayers of the Saints Chardonnay (there is also a Prayer of the Sinners Red Blend) is a new label from Chateau Ste Michelle, the largest winery in Washington. This Chardonnay has some interesting features, 7% of the juice is “Black Chardonnay“, no, that isn’t a type of Chardonnay, it is Chardonnay that became oxidized early in the winemaking process. If you saw the movie “Bottle Shock” you are familiar with its symptoms, the Chardonnay turns a nasty brown color before reverting to the golden Chardonnay hue we all know. In the movie it was accidental, but here, it is intentional. It is a technical process I don’t quite understand, but if it occurs early in the process it is beneficial and if the wine oxidizes late in the winemaking you have major problems. The winemakers say it reduces bitterness and adds rich, complex flavor and it is something that you would not expect in a Chardonnay selling in the $10 to $13 range. 76% of the juice was fermented and aged in stainless steel vats and 24% in 53% French oak and 47% American oak barrels, no new barrels, but a mix of 1 and 2 year old barrels. French and American oak are two different species of oak and they have different grain structure and impart different flavors. So these various percentages add up to a very detailed and precise oak flavoring to the wine. I always say no 2 winemakers produce Chardonnay the same way, while there are many similarities from one Chard to another there is always something at least a little different and the Prayer of the Saints may be markedly different. The packaging of the wine also stands out, the label is a mashup of medieval skeletons and Salvador Dali-like painting of praying saints. And here is the labels party trick…the back label says that if you are a saint or a sinner the truth will be revealed in the dark (so be sure the front label is exposed to bright light) because when the lights are cut the label becomes a glow in the dark praying skeleton. So it looks like according to this Chardonnay we are all sinners, they’re probably right. The alcohol content is 13.5%, not that sinners worry about such things.
The color is wheat yellow with a golden tint. The nose is on the husky side, melon, lemon, peach, pear, French vanilla, baking spice, apple, and flowers. This is a fruit-forward smooth, medium-bodied Chardonnay, with lip smacking acidity (that’s a good thing). It tastes of a mix of peach, pear, lime, and lemon curd, ripe green apple, and vanilla cream. The mid-palate offers hint of spice, a salty sensation, and pink lemonade, followed by melon. The acidity allows the Chardonnay to be an appealing sipping wine and also pair well with upscale summer salads and cold seafood, shrimp, oysters, and crab legs. The finish mirrors the body of the wine and hangs around for a respectable length of time.
- You saw the Bottle Shock movie now you can kind of taste what they were talking about, two very different Chardonnays, but it isn’t everyday, especially in this price range, that you get to experience “Black Chardonnay”.
- You can choose a wine by the label, wine with skulls and/or skeletons on the label have never let me down and you can add bonus points for glow-in-the-dark skeletons
- Washington State wines offer a great deal of taste and quality in the value price wine class
- The “Black Chardonnay” adds a hint of sweetness, this is basically a “dry” wine, but there is ripe, sweet fruit around the edges of the flavor profile