Hess Collection Chardonnay, Oak, and Texture

Anyone who knows me is aware I am a fan of oaky white wines. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at a recent lunch I was invited to I fell hard for the Hess Collection Chardonnay¬†(2016).

Hess Collection Chardonnay 2016

Joining a small group of scribes at this meal was Nicole Carter, the chief marketing officer and director of winemaking for The Hess Collection. (Now that’s a busy person.) One thing she said about Chardonnay, and Napa Valley wines made from this grape in particular, struck me. “You have to deliver that texture,” said Carter.

I couldn’t agree more. The texture you get from oak is what makes most Chardonnay special. And though the Hess Collection Chardonnay spends nine months in oak, only 19% of the barrels are new. You do get a touch of luxurious toastiness. The real pilot of the ship, however, is the used oak delivering alluring texture.

Let’s talk about price. For $22, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single vineyard Chardonnay from Napa Valley with this kind of deft oak treatment. I am not sure what could hold a candle to it. This would be a great glass pour option for a restaurant.

Let’s take a look at the vineyard where it comes from, Su’skol:

Hess Collection Chardonnay, Oak, and Texture

What would it take to get you to love oak and Chardonnay again? Or just like it?

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Defend Oaky White Wines and Hug a Barrel

Lone Oak / Photo by Beverly Crandon via Flickr.

Permit me to rattle my saber a bit and come out and say I am tired of all the criticism of oaky white wines. I love ’em. Especially this time of year, when they are like a warm hug. And you want something that pairs exceptionally well with rich seafood dishes, creamy soups, and even (gasp!) a steak? Boom.

I really like Chardonnay with oak. Over four years ago, I wrote about meeting the winemaker from Frank Family Vineyards in Napa, Todd Graff. When talking about the world’s most famous white wine grape, he shared three words with me:

Chardonnay needs oak.”

For those who ask if Graff does a stainless steel version? “We do unoaked Chardonnay; it just happens to have bubbles in it,” he mischievously¬†explained. (They make a sparkling wine.)

(Full story about my visit on Foodista.)

The Diverse World of Oaky White Wines

So when I had the opportunity to profess my love for the barrel in the February issue of Wine Enthusiast, I jumped at the chance. Now it’s online with a really fantastic illustration. Read all about it and discover four¬†recommended white wines that benefit from the barrel but don’t have you pulling splinters out of your teeth .

Defending Oaked White Wines

Lone Oak photo by Beverly Crandon via Flickr.

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