The 2012 Belle Ambiance Chardonnay is sourced from more than one California grape growing AVA. Belle Ambiance is a new label from Delicato Family Vineyards, they also produce Gnarly Head, Bota Box and HandCraft along with several others. Chardonnay is the wine makers wine, it can be light and crisp or full-bodied and buttery or anything in-between, depending on how they decide to make the wine. With the Belle Ambiance, 50% of this Chard was aged and fermented in stainless steel vats, with no malolactic fermentation and the other 50% was aged in a combination of French and American oak with malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is a process routinely used in Red wine and sometimes used with Chardonnay, especially when oak aging is involved, it changes the natural tart Malic acid in the grapes to the creamy, buttery Lactic acid (which is found in milk products). So the Belle Ambiance should be a best of both worlds Chardonnay, fresh and tart tasting while mixed with rounded fruit and a touch of butter. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a clear, shiny golden-yellow. The nose is pretty, floral with orange blossom honey, pineapple, lemon, tart apple and toasted vanilla. This is a medium bodied Chardonnay, the mellow fruit flavors take the lead and the crisp tart flavors arrive on the mid-palate. It starts with a mellow combination of pear and peach, followed by creamy vanilla and apple. The mid-palate adds a slap of grapefruit, lime and orange zest, with a late hit of butter. The acidity is very balanced and the finish, while it does fade quickly, lingers for some time.
The 2012 Belle Ambiance Chardonnay (list price $9.99) is a night-time Chardonnay. Most inexpensive Chardonnay’s are crisp, light and refreshing, just the thing for a picnic or a refreshing drink by the pool. The Belle Ambiance has the body and the complexity to fit in when the sun goes down. This is a Chardonnay with some oak influence that folks who do not like oaked Chardonnay can get into. The oak flavorings, the vanilla and butter, are balanced and in fit in well with the fruit and citrus and give this Chardonnay a solid foundation. Pair it with pecan crusted chicken breasts or pop the top on a bottle or two and sip it by the fire pit.