Napa Valley is America’s most famous wine region. Within the Napa Valley, two wines reign supreme: Cabernet Sauvignon for red wine drinkers and Chardonnay for white wine enthusiasts. While Napa Cabernets are undeniably world-class wines, Napa Valley Chardonnays often run into criticism for being overly oaked and not allowing enough of the grapes varietal character to shine through. Finding a balance between oak and fruit notes in Napa Valley Chardonnays can be a challenge, especially at an affordable price point.
Black Stallion Winery, located on Napa Valley’s famous Silverado Trail, is a boutique winery producing a Chardonnay that is both affordable ($19.99 MSRP) and complex. The wine is aged for seven months in oak barrels (half new, half 1-year-old French oak) to impart some character and structure, but the winemaker has also allowed the fruit to showcase its inherent characteristics.
One of the interesting things about the Napa Valley is that the temperatures in the region get warmer as one goes north in the valley. The southern end of Napa Valley is the coolest area, with foggy mornings and mild afternoons. The grapes from this area exhibit racy acidity and bright citrus fruit notes. Further north into the valley, around the Rutherford region, Chardonnay grapes grown in this warmer area develop more tropical fruit and honeyed flavors.
Winemaker David Ostheimer has blended grapes from both the Rutherford region, as well as more southern areas like Carneros, to create a wine with both structure and finesse. Whole cluster pressing of the grapes was used to help control astringency in the wine before the wine went into barrels for fermentation.
The result is Black Stallion’s 2010 Chardonnay, one of the best values in Napa Valley wines to on the market. The wine is food-friendly, with a pleasing acidity and bright flavors of lemon zest, pineapple, green apple, and vanilla, and it would pair well with cheeses, brined pork chops, or grilled seafood.
Look for Black Stallion Chardonnay in your wine shop and you will be pleasantly surprised how good Napa Valley Chardonnays can be when they aren’t over oaked.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Black Stallion Winery for review. No other compensation from Black Stallion Winery was received.