Mon 12 Dec 2011
The Bandwagon Chardonnay 2009, Monterey County, is completely delightful. Yes, the 2010 version is on the market, but plenty of this 09 is available in stores. The wine was made by Tony Leonardini, hence the name of his outfit, The Little Lion Wine Company. (Leonardini’s parents own Whitehall Lane Winery, and he grew up in the wine business.) Bandwagon Chardonnay 2009, made entirely in stainless steel, is a pale straw-gold color; lovely aromas of ripe apples and pears reveal hints of mango and jasmine with a background of cloves and limestone. Pineapple and grapefruit flavors, with touches of spice and smoke, are deftly balanced by pert acidity and a burgeoning mineral element through the finish; the texture is silky-smooth but lively and appealing. There’s a lot of character here for the price. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink through Summer 2012. Very Good+. About $16.
For the second choice in this twofer Wines of the Week, let’s turn to the Keenan Chardonnay 2009, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. Boy, this is so fresh and clean and pure, so scintillating yet subtly layered that it’s irresistible. Eighty percent of the wine fermented in barrels, with the other 20 percent in stainless steel; the wine spent seven months aging in oak but with no malolactic fermentation. The result is remarkable intensity and dimension married to elegance and suavity. Classic notes of pineapple and grapefruit are permeated by quince and crystallized ginger and a hint of cloves; there’s nothing tropical or buttery here, thank goodness, just a sheen of nuanced oak balanced with bright citrus flavors, chiming acidity and an almost palate-tickling limestone quality. A chardonnay to revel in for its integrity, authenticity and charm. 13.9 percent alcohol. Consulting winemaker is the venerable Nils Venge. Production was 2,600 cases. Drink through 2013 or ’14. Excellent. About $30.
These wines were samples for review.