The Artesa Carneros Chardonnay 2013 is sourced 80% from Artesa estate vineyards and 20% purchased from neighboring vineyards. The Carneros AVA is half in Sonoma and half in Napa (Artesa is located in southern Carneros on the Napa side) and is a cool climate growing region that specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Artesa (means handcrafted in Catalan) is a 350 acre Estate that was founded in 1997. They are owned by Codorníu Raventós, a family owned company located near Barcelona, Spain, that has made wine since the 1500s. Half of this Chardonnay was fermented and aged (6 months) in French oak barrels, 30% new barrels, the other 50% was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. 30% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation (the natural acid in the juice changes from tart tasting to more rounded, softer tasting) and the wine was aged “on lees” (the dead yeast and grape residue in left with the wine, imparting a cashew nut and a creamy flavor. This is not some “thrown together” Chardonnay, a lot of thought and effort went into obtaining the desired effect. The alcohol content is 14.3%.
The color is pale extra virgin olive oil yellow. The nose is nicely balanced, fresh apple, lemon, pear, lime, with a lightly floral edge. This is a dry, elegant Chardonnay, balanced with hints of vanilla and butter. It tastes of mix of apple and peach (balanced not overly fruity), lemon with a touch of lime. The mid-palate shows soft, salty, nutty flavors, with a hit of vanilla cream and finishes with a not too acidic splash of grapefruit. The acidity is well-balanced, this is a food wine that drinks well on its own. Many food wines only find their balance when paired with a meal, that is not a problem here. The finish mirrors the mid-palate and slowly fades away.
The Artesa Carneros Chardonnay 2013 displays subtlety, balance, length and an interesting and varied mix of flavors. You should be able to find it somewhere under $20, which, while not exactly cheap is a good value for a quality Carneros Chardonnay. If you ever talk to a wine-maker from Burgundy, the thing you can say that will make them the happiest is that their Chardonnay has great length and wonderfully balanced acidity. The Artesa Carneros Chardonnay 2013 at just under 20 bucks has more length and balance than most Chardonnay coming out of Burgundy at that price range.