I'm going to commit a wine faux-pas and say that I actually prefer - nay, crave - full-bodied white wine in the winter. Of course, I live in southern California, where our January temps reach August-worthy highs - but oh, those winter nights. By my romantic, gas-powered fireplace. With the patio door cracked open.
At the wine bar I lend my talents to on Saturdays (Heritage Wine Bar, Pasadena) our pre-New Year's menu included a lovely Chardonnay by the glass - Sonoma-Loeb 2006 Chardonnay, Sonoma County. Being that it was screamingly popular with the clientele and always my first choice for an "end of shift" glass, I was surprised when a patron claimed it was "too oaky." Her feedback caused me to do a second tasting - and to see what number on the Spectator scale the wine received.
Who'd have thunk it? 89 points. At my "re-tasting," I found caramel apples, vanilla and counter-ripened pear on the nose. The mouthfeel was creamy and dense, but with a slight tap-dance that lightened the load, ending with delicious creme brulee, butter and - there you have it - gentle oak. In fact, this time around I noticed an almost puckery note to the finish that made me think it walked a thin line between just enough and too much oak.
That must have been what swayed the Spectator away from 90.
Being that oaked-or-not is very much a Chardonnay buzz-phrase currently, and that I am quite the champion of the oak + Chardonnay relationship (faux-pas #2?), I do not agree with the 89-point badge. I think Sonoma-Loeb made a hell of a seductive Chardonnay for the price ($30), and whilst I understand some folks prefer a little less barrel action with their Chard, it works very well here. In fact, I think I'll go downstairs (yes, I live above said wine bar) and buy another bottle now.