The Bouchaine Estate Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay 2013 is a $12.99 Trader Joe’s special buy. Bouchaine Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in Carneros (the Carneros AVA is partly in Sonoma and partly in Napa, Bouchaine is on the Napa side) and this bottling sells on their website for $30 and can be found on internet wine-shops in the $25-$27 range. The grapes come from their 100 acre vineyard in southern Carneros and this Chardonnay is created with great care. Several different yeasts are used to start fermentation (each type of yeast adds specific characteristics to the wine) and this Chardonnay undergoes malolactic fermentation (tart tasting acid naturally occurring in the wine is converted to softer more rounded tasting acid) and aged “on lees” (the dead yeast and grape residue is left in the tank with the wine when the yeast dies off after fermentation). This Chardonnay (85%) is aged in French and Hungarian oak (15% new oak barrels, the rest used barrels and the remaining 15% aged in stainless steel tanks. This gives the wine subtle oak influence along with a splash of fresh fruit and citrus flavors. So, why is Trader Joe’s selling this wine for less than 50% of its normal selling price? Trader Joe’s isn’t saying, but a quick check of the web showed that Bouchaine was near the epicenter of the 2014 earthquake in Napa. The seemed to have come out of that alright, so I don’t think that was an issue. They also recently hired a new winemaker and brought on Paul Hobbs as a consultant, so it looks like they may be taking their wines in a different direction, so maybe Bouchaine is clearing out the old to make way for the new. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
The color is a crystal clear, pale butter yellow. The nose is delicate, a mix of lemon, pear, spring flowers, lime, salty cashews and ripe apple. This is a complex Chardonnay, with a lush mouth-feel and a mix of ripe citrus and fruit flavors. It starts with creamy lemon, orange zest, Golden Delicious apple, non-sweet pineapple, and Anjou pear. The mid-palate brings kiwi, white peach and a soft touch of butter cream. The acidity is in the pocket, it gives this Chardonnay a good deal of length. The finish is full and long-lasting.
Well, should you buy the Bouchaine Estate Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay 2013? Of course you should, this is a first class bottle of wine at a crazy good price (Trader Joe’s also has their $35 Pinot Noir for $14.99). This may be the best 13 buck Chardonnay you ever had.