The Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 subtitled Francine’s Selection is sourced from long-term contracts with family-owned vineyards in Mendocino County AVA in Northern California. Toad Hollow winery was founded in 1993 by Todd Williams and Rodney Strong. Rodney Strong had been a Broadway choreographer and owned a winery bearing his name. Todd Williams passed away in 2007, and Frankie Williams, the Francine in Francine’s Selection, took over management.
The Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 is Frankie’s wine; it was one of the first unoaked Chardonnay in California. At the time, California was known for heavily oaked Chardonnay, so this wine set the trend. Toad Hollow is based in Sonoma, but this is a Mendocino wine. Mendocino is directly north of Sonoma.
Toad Hollow has always had a whimsical Mr. Toad Wind in the Willows vibe; they had fun with the label and marketing but took the wine very seriously. If you are interested in exploring Chardonnay, unoaked Chardonnay is a great place to start.
Most value-priced White wines are very simply produced; allow the fruit to shine thru, do not overdo the winemaking. Chardonnay is often the exact opposite; use a selection of grapes from different environments, malolactic fermentation, on lees, oak barrel aging, Chardonnay can get complicated.
Unoaked Chardonnay strips away some of the production elements; sometimes, what malolactic fermentation brings to the wine and oak aging imparts can be confusing. Or what do Chardonnay grapes taste like wine? When the wine is produced simply, like the other White grapes.
The grapes for this Chardonnay were picked early in the morning and underwent cold fermentation. The cold slows the yeast down; different fermentation temps bring out different characteristics in the grapes—the wine underwent malolactic fermentation.
Malolactic fermentation, the changing the tart natural acid in the grapes to rounded tasting acid, is often found with oak-aged Chardonnay. It is thought that the rounded tasted acid matches the flavors of the oak barrels. So, here is a chance to see just what malolactic fermentation brings to Chardonnay. A small percentage of no malolactic Chardonnay was blended in to provide a contrast.
This Chardonnay was not aged “on lees” (the dead, spent yeast is left in the tank) and sees no oak of any kind. So this wine should showcase what malolactic fermentation does to Chardonnay. The next time you have a barrel-aged Chardonnay, you may be able to pick out what is what. The alcohol content is 13.9%.
Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 Tasting Notes
The Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 a sleek, medium-weight Chard with an interesting flavor profile. The color is pale wheat yellow. The nose is melons, peaches, pears, ripe apple, a hint of cream, and slightly floral.
It starts with ripe peach, slightly rough orange zest, melon, and unsweetened pineapple. The mid-palate brings exotic spice countered by smooth cream and Anjou pear. The acidity is well-balanced; it gives the wine structure and tells you that you need to take another sip.
- The Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay 2019 is a delicious wine.
- It is well-made and nicely balanced; the flavors are both familiar and unexpected.
- It has a terrific mouth-feel, and the enjoyment goes all the way thru to the finish.