The Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 is sourced from the estate vineyards of Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) property in the Colchagua Valley of Chile. This is a wine that is often available for under ten dollars, and the 2020 vintage received 90 points from a leading wine critic.
You would think that Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) would only deal in fabulously expensive wines. Yes, they do have high-end wines, but they offer many excellent affordable wines. They have been in Chile since 1988 and have modernized the vineyards and facilities to modern standards.
The technical notes for the Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 tell that the estate Chardonnay grapes also have a selection of grapes from Casablanca Valley, though the bottle clearly states the grapes are estate grown. That is one of the perks of value-priced Chilean wine; estate fruit can come at all price points.
Chardonnay is a wine that every producer in every country makes to their own specifications. They are each a little to a lot different from the next. I occasional hear someone say, “I don’t like Chardonnay” and I think they are all different, there are a variety of different styles, how can you not like all of them?
The Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 is an unoaked Chardonnay, fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. I see no mention of malolactic fermentation. That is a process that converts the tart natural acid in the grapes to rounded, softer acid. Malolactic occurs almost universally in Red wine, and Chardonnay is one of the few White wine grapes that uses this technique, but not here.
One process they do highlight is the wine was partly aged “on lees.” Lees is French for the dead yeast and grape residue that falls to the bottom of the tank after fermentation. If you stir the wine, which distributes the lees through the wine (Stirring the lees is called battonage), the wine can take on a creamy texture. Stir a lot, very creamy, not so much, a little creamy. On lees also adds a salty, slightly nutty flavor.
The 2020 vintage was hot, and the grapes ripped and were picked 13 days earlier than typical. The 14% alcohol content seems to reflect the ripe fruit, so this may be a citrus and fruit-forward Chardonnay. The trend in California Chardonnay is to do a mix of oak aging, malolactic, and on lees. Not do any one process completely, but a blend of techniques. So, I am looking for to tasting what the Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 has to offer.
Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 Tasting Notes
The color is a clear, clean wheat yellow. The nose has some weight; there is melon, grapefruit, lime, spice, orange blossom honey, apple, dried pineapple bits, and a floral edge. The Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 does not need oak; it has a solid mouthfeel and a full array of flavors.
It tastes of ripe peach combined with lemon, that salty on lees thing (I rarely can pick out the nutty flavors, but I always catch the salt), lime, melon, faint, tart tangerine, a soft mineral component, and Anjou pear. The acidity is well controlled; it gives solid texture and allows the flavors time to unfold properly.
- The Los Vascos Chardonnay 2020 an excellent, affordable Chardonnay.
- I thought that there would be something missing with the lack of oak aging, but I was wrong. This is Chardonnay rocks.