The 2012 Wente Estates Morning Fog Chardonnay is sourced from Wente’s Estate vineyards in Livermore Valley and the San Francisco Bay. The fog that rolls inland off the San Francisco Bay in the morning cools the grapes before the afternoon heat kicks in. Wente Vineyards has been a family owned winery for 130 years and have been very active in developing different grape clones, in fact the Chardonnay grape that Chateau Montelena used to win the Judgement in Paris (Bottle Shock movie) was the Wente clone. This Chardonnay did not undergo malolactic fermentation (changes tart acid to more rounded, apple & pear tasting acid) and 50% was aged in used oak barrels and the other 50% was aged in stainless steel tanks. The Chard was aged “on lees” for 7 months, which means all the dead yeast and grape residue was left in the barrels and tanks (adds flavor and texture) and the wine was stirred on a regular basis, which adds a creamy texture. The 2012 vintage in California, especially Northern California was extremely good, if you have a choice between the 2012 and an earlier vintage grab the 2012. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is clear wheat yellow. The nose is apple, pear, magnolia, pineapple, a hint of lime and a touch of butter. This Chardonnay has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel, but the flavors are tart and bright. It starts with golden delicious apple, pink grapefruit, tropical fruit and a slight hint of butter. The acidity is strong, but well balanced and gives this Chardonnay some impressive length. The finish is long and strong.
I don’t know if it’s the 2012 vintage or if Wente really has their act together (probably both), but this Chardonnay is excellent. Great nose, outstanding mouthfeel, tons of flavor, terrific acidity and a textbook finish, this Chardonnay checks off all the boxes, plus it should be available for $13 or under.