The Federalist Mendocino Chardonnay 2017 is like the name says, 100% Chardonnay made from grapes farmed in Mendocino County in Northern California. Mendocino has all of the grape growing advantages of Sonoma, it is directly north of Sonoma, but does not have the name recognition of Sonoma. There are top-notch vineyards and wineries, that fly under the radar of the average wine drinker. One of the reason may be that for a long time Mendocino was the outlaw marijuana capital of California and marijuana is/was more profitable than wine. Just the same, excellent grapes are grown in Mendocino.
The Federalist Mendocino Chardonnay is produced with a nod to old-school California Chardonnays of Napa Valley and Sonoma, rich with creamy oak influence. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged “on lees”, with the lees being stirred. The more you stir the lees the more the wine takes on a creamy texture. It is aged in oak 35% new, the rest used barrels, mostly Hungarian and American, with a little French oak. Hungarian oak and French oak are the same species, the forests are a few hundred miles apart. American oak is a different species of oak and while it is used in winemaking, but is more likely used in aging whiskey. The different types of oak impart different flavors into the wine during aging with the Hungarian and French oak adding spice, while the American oak adds vanilla. The alcohol content is a rich 14.5%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is a clean, clear, golden wheat yellow. The nose is apple, peach, pear, lemon chiffon, sweet vanilla, a whiff of spice, and a little cookie batter. This is a full-flavored Chardonnay, with rich smooth tastes and ample acidity. It starts with a stew of apple, grapefruit, and vanilla cream, followed by peach and butter. The mid-palate offers exotic spice, a little tropical fruit, lime, orange zest, pear, and lemon. The acidity makes its presence known but does not bite. The finish is full and lengthy.
- The Federalist Mendocino County Chardonnay 2017 is a modern take on old-school Chardonnay. Yes, there is the oak influence, but it is there to add flavor, not dominate the wine.
- This is a Chardonnay with all the production tricks yet is affordable, a check of the web saw prices from above $10 to around $15.
- Chardonnay fads seem to swing between no oak to too much oak, but the Federalist finds a sweet spot in the middle (ok, maybe a little on the oak side), where the oak just adds to the flavor.